This New Year we fancied something low key so our old friends invited us to a meal at The Swan Inn in Amersham. We had never been and the menu looked inviting and well priced so thought we would give it a go. The Swan is a traditional pub that serves modern British food and located in the pre-Saxon town of Amersham.
Two of us were to be an hour or so early so we decided to call to see if we could get nibbles before (our booking was at 9.30pm, which was too late for our English bellies to cope with, without food ahead) and it was a good job we did. Okay we admit we had read the reviews that said that often food was not avalaible on the menu and that bookings were often lost, so we called the restaurant asking them if nibbles were an option. Sure enough they had not got a booking under the name – despite booking this, weeks in advance and it was New Years Eve! So as a result they had not got our pre-ordered food. We were quite shocked and it did initially grey our thoughts of the place.
When we did get there we ordered drinks from a wide wine, beer and cocktail selection until our friends arrived. When they did we were seated upstairs which is away from the rowdy bar downstairs and is lovely with its old beams and old fashioned ceilings. From then on the service really did pick up – maybe because we created such a fuss when booking four times over!
As we had pre-ordered, our food came out when we were ready. First of all we ordered a Moet – I am not one to order expensive champagne in a pub as I always have the voice in my head that we can get it half price in our local Tesco but maybe that’s the commoner in me – which was lovely way to kick of NYE. We ordered the scallops with pea puree, the smoked salmon with capers and the pork belly with ginger beer glaze. My scallops were clearly not fresh and were served without the coral. I get that it is New Year and fresh fish is hard to come by but in that case do not offer it on the menu. The smoked salmon was fresh and not too smokey, just how I like it. The pork had a good layer of fat and nice crispy crackling that went with the sticky dressing. Overall we enjoyed the starter.
We moved on to a bottle of red to go with our main course, two of us ordered the Beef fillet Wellington served with mushrooms and a marsala sauce and myself and one other diner ordered the duo of lamb that came with fondant potaoes and roasted tomatoes. Now the wellington dish was double the size of our lamb dish. One dish looked hearty and satisfying – perfect for soaking up all of the alcohol we were drinking and then the other dish looked as if it came from the Nouvelle cuisine school of cooking. I honestly think dishes need to be the same in terms of size in the same restaurant. The lamb to be fair was well cooked and looked very beautiful however I would have liked to have been asked how I wanted my meat cooked as I prefer pink not well done. The beef wellington, as I mentioned, was huge with a thick pastry around a huge chunk of beef. The beef again was over cooked to our liking but then again I suppose they had a large number of ordered on NYE (that’s not quite true as it was not that busy at 9.30pm but still.)
For dessert we ordered the Eton Mess and cheese and biscuits. I am not a dessert person but the others finished it off quickly so I assume it was good.
The service really did make up for the fact that they lost our reservation as the staff were friendly and regularly topping up our glasses and seeing if we were okay. The atmosphere was cozy, quaint and just what we were after for New Year however the food was a little hit and miss. Maybe this was because of the pressure at New Year. Final comment is that a pub doing a New Year’s Eve menu should not close the bar at 11.55 – if we had known that we could have made plans for when the clock stroke midnight.
Food Service Atmosphere