Tucked inside the world-famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the South Bank right next to the Tate Modern is a restaurant where you can get perhaps one of the best Sunday roasts in London.
The Swan, a multi-level restaurant and bar, has an excellent great-valued Sunday lunch that is very delicious. At just £26.50 for two courses, or £29.50 for three courses, not only do you get great food, you also get to sit a beautifully designed restaurant as well as savour an amazing view of the Thames (from all the tables) in surroundings that include white tablecloths, Robert Welch cutlery, all which looks very upscale and expensive but actually isn’t.
It’s best to make reservations for Sunday lunch as the day me and my friend were there the place was 90% full mid-afternoon. We, of course, opted to have the Roasts. I preferred the pork belly while he wanted the beef, and we both were not disappointed.
My Old Spot Roast Pork Belly, baked apple sauce with all the trimmings was delicious. A nice large slab of pork, resting in a fetal position over a mound of very soft cabbage, was very tender, moist and cooked to perfection. Served with quite a few large cooked carrots, a nice helping of browned potatoes, and a big yorkshire pudding, plus a cooked onion sitting in pork juice was an extra touch. My friend had the same exact trimmings but his Sirloin of aged Ayrshire beef was cooked exactly as per his request (medium well – though The Swan does recommend medium rare). He said his meal was very good. And luckily for me he could not finish half of his portion, so I polished it off for him (thanks buddy)!
The two starters we had were very good. My friend had the Ellie’s Dairy Goat’s Cheese with salt baked Heritage beetroot, and glazed hazelnuts, and it was a very colourful (because of the different varieties of beets) and different. I helped him to finish it, and even though I am not a fan of beets, I particularly liked the orange and pink flavoured ones – so different and so good which gives a great taste to an otherwise dull vegetable. I had the Bitter Leaf Salad, Kentish Blue Cheese, poached pear with walnut dressing. It was on the small side but it was perfect as a prelude to the main course. It was simple yet very tasty as I was given several leaves that were filled with the walnut dressing with blue cheese and the bits of pear sprinkled on top – I can still taste the walnut dressing, unique and delicious.
The Puddings are a must. My friend had the Bitter Chocolate Marquise in salted caramel sauce with grue nib tuile (a chocolatey biscuit made with almonds). His dish was three layers of different coloured chocolate, including an inner portion that was like a chocolate mousse. It is a dish that is decadent and delightful! And he finished it all! I opted for the Almond & Apple Tart with Devon cream – and I was not disappointed. The tart was moist (and tasted almost like it was soaked in rum – but it wasn’t unfortunately), with a graham cracker crust, and almonds baked on top for a tart that is one of the best that I have ever had. Recommended!
There are cocktails and mocktails on the Sunday menu. We had two cocktails. My Mango Fiesta was just that – a fiesta! Multi-coloured and multi-tasty – very juicy and served up lots of flavour without any alcohol. The Seedlip & Pink Grapefruit that my friend had lacked the kick of the Mango Fiesta but it was nonetheless refreshing. The Swan also has an extensive wine list and a range of the draft, craft and bottled beers.
Of course, The Swan is more than just Sunday lunch! There is an excellent regular menu with something for everyone, as well as a breakfast menu (I want to go back for pancakes), and a theatre menu (excellently priced like the Sunday menu). There is also a bar menu for the cozy bar downstairs, and just to add there is a room on the top floor for private events. But it has to be mentioned again that the views from the bar, restaurant and the private events room are spectacular, overlooking the Thames and north of it including St. Pauls and the skyscrapers of the City (and the Millennium Bridge just right outside). Just beautiful. And to also mention the service is very good. The courses were impeccably timed, and we were not rushed at all. But for an extra kick before you leave, have a cup of their strong Arabica coffee – it’s good if you like your coffee strong!
Their Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea, inspired by the journeys of the characters found in the play is also a bargain at £28.50 per person. The people sitting next to us had it and I had to refrain myself from grabbing one of their cakes!
And let’s not forget that this Mother’s Day The Swan has a set menu (priced at £29.50 for 2 courses, and £32.50 for 3 courses) which will include starters of Cured Cornish mackerel, poached Yorkshire rhubarb, yoghurt and tarragon; Corn fed chicken, carrot and savoy cabbage terrine, celeriac puree; and Jerusalem artichoke veloute, truffled creme fraiche topped with artichoke crisps. Mains follow with Baked Stonebass fillet, charred asparagus, pea puree and morels; Roast lamb rump, leek and parmesan gratin, lamb fat potato; Roast free-range pork belly, confit shallots, roasted apple sauce; and Roast 28 day aged Sirloin, glazed bone marrow and a cauliflower cheese puree. Indulgent desserts are found in the Chocolate fondant tartlet, salted caramel ice cream; Bramley apple parfait, raisin puree and walnut crumb; Mango Bavarois, tropical fruit salad, caramelised white chocolate or a selection of British farmhouse cheeses
The Swan has the best of contemporary British cooking, and a proportion of their revenues goes to the Shakespeare’s Globe Trust, a charitable organisation set up to further the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance.
The Swan is a fantastic restaurant in a convenient location offering great views, amazing value, delicious food in a superb and cozy environment.
Review by Tim Baros