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About 19 or 20 years old, his highlighted hair had been brushed into a Jamie Oliver like quiff, his casual attire having been anything but casually chosen. This dude I think that's the word clearly put a lot of effort into looking relaxed. If you haven't already gathered, it's a bit trendy this place.
The age profile in the dining room is, on average, slightly older than in the bar, although it still a fairly young sort of place, without too many faces much over 50.
Phone: 01562 700229
But there was nothing lazy about the way this lad was slouched. No, this was a very deliberate, cool slouch. I doubt if this young man did anything lazily.
Monty" 14oz rump steak with onion rings, peas, tomato, chips and mushrooms 11.95.
My dining partner seemed more than satisfied with the beer battered cod, although she struggled to manage all the chips. Ever the gentleman, I felt duty bound to step in and help.
The meals came in pretty good time, and the steak was very flavoursome for a fillet, and nicely cooked, if not as tender as some I have experienced. The peppercorn sauce was good, if not exceptional, and there was plenty of it enough for two meals in fact. The chips were tasty and plentiful, although on a personal note I would have preferred carrots rather than the peas it was served with, and it is not cheap at 19.45 with the sauce.
There is an excellent wine list, with no fewer than six different champagnes, ranging from 6.50 a glass Louis Custine Brut NV, to the 105 bottles of vintage Dom Perignon. It therefore seemed appropriate that Amy Winehouse was playing in the background although, as the night wore on, I began to feel that the continuous jazz standards were a touch too loud.
For afters, I went for the sticky toffee pudding in caramel sauce, which was most enjoyable and rounded off the meal nicely, while my companion enjoyed Asics Spikes Sprint
The front lounge bar is very swish, offering a choice of comfy sofas and tall round tables, the candlesticks and vases on the window ledges providing a rustic touch. Most of the people in the bar seemed to be stylish young things in their 20s or 30s, and the atmosphere was not too different from what you would expect to see in some of the more hip bars in Birmingham.
Grilled fillet of cod with sauteed New potatoes and chorizo 13.95; Butternut squash stewed with spinach, feta, and black olives 11.95; Stir fried beef with noodles and oriental vegetables 14.50; "The Full Asics Womens Shoes Fashion Sneakers
The young man slouched in the sofa beneath the window of The Swan, writes our mystery meal review, The Insider.
Outside, the changes have been subtle, but effective. Traditionalists will mourn the replacement of the old swinging pub sign with the more vogueish stencil signwriting and a clever logo featuring a letter S in the shape of a Swan. But the new cream and brown colour scheme really looks the part, a dramatic improvement on its slightly shabby appearance of a few years ago.
A smiling, petite, dark haired lady brought us four un buttered bread rolls, but it took me a while to work out that the small glass dish at the end of the table Asics Womens Trainers Sale was for pouring olive oil and balsamic vinegar in.
Rump of lamb with minted mash and provencal vegetables 14.25; Asics Tiger Gel Kayano Trainer Evo Red
The main dining area is a large conservatory at the side of the pub, but we opted to sit in a small room at the back. Not quite as overtly trendy as the bar, it is nevertheless a stylish place to be, although I could not quite work out whether the weathered look to the painted wood panelling was deliberately distressed, or whether it just needed a fresh lick of paint.
Inside The Swan, BlakedownI liked the single, fresh flower in the glass vase, and the turquoise dried poppies (at least I think they were poppies) in a display in the corner added a nice quirky twist. The slightly cramped layout of the tables did mean I found myself in slightly closer proximity to the lady sitting behind me than conventional etiquette would consider appropriate.
At least I say "slouched" because I cannot think of a more appropriate term. According to the dictionary (Chambers Encyclopedic English, since you ask), the verb slouch means "to sit, stand, or walk with a tired or lazy drooping posture."
Unfortunately, its kerb side appeal is marred somewhat by the road side railings, but you can hardly blame the pub for that. Perhaps reflecting its new young, thrusting image, the Swan markets itself as the ideal meeting place for business breakfast meetings, making much play about its wireless internet access. I've never worked out how they manage to access the internet on the wireless.
MENU SAMPLESmoked salmon with beetroot salad and horseradish dressing 5.75; Chicken liver parfait with red onion chutney and toast 5.75; Grilled goat's cheese en croute with redcurrant Jelly 5.25; Smoked bacon, black pudding and poached egg salad with honey and mustard dressing 5.25
the tiramisu. The total bill came to 50.65, a little on the pricey side given that we had just one drink each, but by no means extortionate.
It was pleasing to see that the ales had not been neglected, either. Regular readers will know I love Jennings' Cumberland Ale, but there was also a pale ale by Sadlers, one of my favourite local brewers based at the Windsor Castle Inn just up the road in Lye. In my excitement I forgot to ask which pale ale it was. "It's very light," said the young brunette waitress, and indeed it was, with quite a sharp, spicy flavour. An interesting drink, but not as good as Jack's Ale, my favourite Sadlers tipple.
The Swan was built around 1760, and is one of the few buildings to feature on the early maps of Blakedown, a small village between Kidderminster and Stourbridge. But while its period details have been retained, it received the full fashionable gastropub treatment after being taken over by Chris Lowe in 2008.
Food review of The Swan
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