Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Swan, Denham Village

After five years together, the Ewing and I decided to celebrate our half a decade of happiness and joy/pain and suffering (delete as appropriate) with dinner at the Swan, situated in the rather lovely Denham Village.

Part of the, four strong, Salisbury group, they describe their ethos on the website thus; 'we searched the highways and (often forgotten) byways of the Chilterns to create our little clutch of born again boozers. Our pubs are for everyone - you may even have to step over a dog or two on your way to the bar. This is how it has always been and how we like it.' And, having already eaten at their the Old Queens Head in Penn, it's pretty agreeable to me, too.

Making the most of the scorching summer weather, we were quick to nab a table outside on their large, tiered patio. As we initially got together amid a backdrop of pub gardens - plus copious pints of Strongbow and packets of Walker's salt and vinegar - it seemed rather appropriate to be dining al fresco again, albeit in somewhat classier circumstances.

Despite the hunger-sapping heat I was determined to enjoy three courses; firstly as I was only just back chewing solid food after some recent gum surgery, and secondly as a double course of antibiotics had put pay to any ideas of a celebratory drink, meaning I felt obliged to make up for the the lost calories through an enticing mixture of fat and sugar.

Thankfully it was an obliging kind of menu, featuring plenty of local and seasonal produce, with a few unusual, but not too outré, twists.

A case in point being rather curious and very refreshing, tatziki sorbet, a frozen mixture of cucumber mint and yoghurt, which played very nicely with the spicy heat of my lamb kebab.

The kebab itself was a thing of utter wonder. Grilled lamb is one of my very favourite things, the deep, slight gamey notes and sweet fat responding particularly well to the combination of spice and an open flame. I’m not sure quite what marinade the local Stockings Farm lamb, had been rolled about in before it was cooked, but it tasted fantastic, the meat being perfectly crispy and soft and smoky all at once.

My only criticisms were the lack of bread for mopping up the sublime juices, and the fact I could have happily eaten rather more of it.

The Ewing chose the goat’s cheese panna cotta with salt baked beets, peppery watercress and balsamic. This was a gloriously rich and smooth take on a classic combo, with the slight funk of a good chevre, and none of the unpleasant gelatinous wobble found in a lesser cooked cream. A decent portion, too, meaning there was plenty to share with me.

Mains continued in the same successful vein. My pollock was a fine piece of flaky, fresh fish, and was well complimented by sweet pink grapefruit, glazed fennel and a brown crab sauce of serious depth and deliciousness. While I was really hankering after a bowl of skinny fries, a side order of sautéed new potatoes still hit the spot.

The Ewing tackled the behemoth of 15 hour braised Amersham lamb shoulder with mint gnocchi and a rosemary cream. This was some serious cooking, with a serious portion size to match. Luckily she was quite happy to swop plates half way through so I too could experience the melting meat, heady sauce and fluffy potato dumplings for myself.

Even the Ewing had trouble devouring all of her vast chocolate delice, served with cherry ripple ice cream and cherry sauce. This was a proper pudding for the most hardened chocolate lovers; dense, dark and bitter; cut through by the tart cherries and sweet, milky ice.

The strawberry sundae was the sugary kiss of midsummer and a pinnacle of its ilk. A rich confection of cream, custard and macerated berries perfumed with local elderflower and topped with a ball of vanilla ice cream and a buttery poppy seed twirl. A grown up desert that leaves you feeling very much like a small kid again as you scrape the long-handled spoon once more around the dregs at the bottom of the glass.

Throughout our years together I have come to realise the Ewing makes a very fine chauffeur, pot washer, cake baker and general 'fixer'. But, while these things are all well and good, she is also funny, a great dining companion and, most importantly, puts up with me. Happily our lovely meal at the Swan Inn matched the lovely company.

The Swan Inn on Urbanspoon

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