After a decade-long partnership with Shakespeare's Globe theatre, the Swan has spread its wings, says Katherine Alano
For the past decade, the Swan, located at Shakespeare's Globe on London's Bankside, has partnered with the iconic theatre to offer restaurant, bar and events spaces alongside cafés and tap houses.
Restaurateur Diccon Wright founded the extensive food and beverage operation a decade ago, and today it is a sister business to the Swan and Amano restaurants in West Malling, Kent.
With stunning views over the Thames and St Paul's cathedral, the Swan restaurant can cater for up to 120 covers at lunch and 150 covers at dinner.
rseeing the operation is executive chef Allan Pickett, former chef-patron of Piquet in London's Fitzrovia. Pickett joined the company in February 2017 and said of his appointment: "Diccon has been a great mentor to me since joining. He's not just about numbers; he sees the business as a customer, because he is in here nearly every day, steering the business. Working here has broadened my experience from my previous role in a small kitchen to what can sometimes be a bit of a monster at the Swan."
Pickett brings a wealth of experience to the restaurant, having worked at the likes of Chez Nico, Orrery, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and D&D London's Plateau, as well as L'Escargot under Marco Pierre White.
Pickett's style is inspired by classic French cuisine, developed during his time working with the Galvin brothers. "It is simple food, but I like to keep the flavours natural without mucking the ingredients around," says Pickett.
e restaurant offers an à la carte menu as well as a pre-theatre menu priced at £28.50 for three courses. Prices on the à la carte start at £8.50 for a starter, rising to £31.50 for a main course.
The selection of starters include cauliflower velouté with poached scallop, spiced raisins and caramelised florets; roast partridge salad with slow-cooked leg, pickled radish and braised leeks; and Ellie's Dairy goats' cheese with salt-baked heritage beetroot and glazed hazelnuts.
For mains, diners can choose from the likes of pot-roasted rump of Romney Marsh lamb, curly kale, caramelised shallot, garlic and thyme-infused potatoes; and darne of cod, spinach, rock samphire, lemon, capers, croutons and burnt butter sauce.
kett changes the menu according to the seasons as much as possible, around four or five times a year. Favourites with the guests include the shorthorn rib-eye with chips, watercress salad and béarnaise sauce; and pot-roasted halibut, port-glazed salsify, sauté of wild mushrooms, red wine and shallot vinaigrette.
Also on the menu is what Pickett says has become something of a signature dish: slow-cooked pork belly, black pudding, celeriac purée and brandy-poached prunes, which can be served either as a starter or main dish. Pickett brines and cooks two suckling pig bellies for 12 hours, after which they are pressed, cut and roasted in the oven. The dish has its roots in French cookery, but Pickett admits that he has made it more British with the inclusion of black pudding.
"The suckling pig is so very tender and melts in the mouth, while the black pudding adds an earthy, gutsy feel to the dish. The prunes are poached in a very light stock syrup and brandy, which is infused with an Earl Grey tea bag. It's a really hearty dish, and it works especially well coming into the autumn."
kett is keen to get his brigade of 40 up to speed with the "forgotten skills" in the kitchen. "For instance, it is important not to lose such classic skills as slow-cooking," he says.
"We need to be able to pass that knowledge onto the team. We make a great country terrine, where the chefs hand-cut the pork fat and chicken livers. It takes time to do, but we try and keep up with that despite the high number of covers we do, at the same time as keeping up the quality," he adds.
Desserts are priced at £8, including baked brown sugar tart, crème fraîche and candied lemon zest; and bitter chocolate marquise with salted caramel sauce and a grué nib tuile.
"The Swan is a constant evolution," says Pickett, "but, more importantly, we listen to the guests and what they want."
From the menu
Starters • Fried duck egg, brioche, wild mushrooms, parsley and shallots £8.50 • Country terrine, pistachio nut, gooseberry preserve and toasted bread £11.50
Mains • Seared seabass, lightly curried mussel sauce, braised fennel compote with saffron potatoes £21.50 • Pot-roasted Ross chicken supreme, thyme confit leg, fondant potato, Madeira-braised white cabbage and roast gravy £23 • Half/whole native lobster, garlic butter, chips and seasonal leaves £22.50/£39.50
Desserts • Set vanilla cream cheesecake, poached blackberries and jam £8 • Cinnamon-spiced steamed sponge pudding, ginger sauce £8
Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DTwww.swanlondon.co.uk !river-room2](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/Jqfb479MR3CEW0tfRrZo) [Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).
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