Dining Out: The White Swan, Shawell, Leicestershire

Early in the New Year my wife decided to take me out for a `surprise birthday` meal `somewhere in the local area! We have eaten out at most of the local restaurants and public houses within ten miles of Daventry so I had no idea where we were going as we headed off up the A5 on my `mystery lunchtime trip`.

After just fifteen minutes we turned off into the compact village of Shawell. I wasn’t quite sure which county I was in as the small village of Shawell is located very close to the borders of Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire and is less than a mile from junction 19 which links the M6, M1 and the A14.Shawell is in fact in Leicestershire close to the old Roman site of Tripontium west of the village on the A5. It is a small village which also includes earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle and the 15C Tower of All Saints Church south of the village

The White Swan is managed by Rugby born Chef/Patron Rory McClean and his American partner Samantha Laye. Rory worked and trained in Michelin star restaurants under Angela Harnett at the Connaught and Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, London before joining up with Head Chef Ben Coleman at The White Swan.

Ben brings a huge amount of experience from working across the world in Italy, Hong Kong, China and Japan sharing a similar vision to Rory in wanting to provide a fine dining experience and to cook exceptional food in their hometown locality. Sous Chef Chris Leaper has been working in professional kitchens since the age of thirteen gaining experience at The Westbury in London and was Head Chef at The Grey Goose at Gilmorton before completing a fantastic trio of chefs at The White Swan.

The White Swan has undergone a major makeover in recent years but still retains the atmosphere of a traditional country pub but with a restaurant that produces top class food. On entering the pub there is a small smart bar area on the left and a comfortable seating area to your right. Outdoor seating space is provided in a small courtyard at the rear and on a raised area at the front of the pub with plenty of car parking up a narrow drive to the side of the building.

Children are always welcome and you can also bring your dog along if you wish.
We were greeted at the door and asked whether we would like to have a drink in the bar or be shown to our table.

The dining area was very bright and clean partly due to the huge skylight which we both thought was a real feature of the room. Freshly decorated and refurbished with recently varnished parquet flooring it was a delightful and comfortable dining area. Despite it being a January lunchtime and a crisp cold temperature outside there were a number of other customers enjoying their lunches inside.

The White Swan is a freehold pub which has enabled Rory to use a range of independent local brewers. A varied selection of draught, bottled beers and regular guest beers are always available. Russell Webb`s Dow Bridge Micro- Brewery is located in the village of Catthorpe just a mile away from Shawell so I chose a pint of their Gladiator (4.5% ABV) which was a strong dark full bodied ale with roasted malt giving off hints of chocolate. A wonderful pint to celebrate my birthday.

My wife chose a large glass of South African `False Bay` Shiraz which was served at the perfect temperature and humidity thanks to the stunning glass wine cooler doubling up as a wall partition. The wine was a full-bodied Shiraz packed with rich, juicy fruit aromas, hints of cracked black pepper giving way to a black cherry and spicy flavour on the palate. It was served in a stunning tall glass which my wife fell in love with.

We opted for the three course lunch menu at £23 per person. There was a choice of five starters, six main meals and five puddings to choose from the menu. All of the dishes were beautifully presented and arrived at the table in good time.

My wife chose to start with the Spinach & ricotta ravioli with sage butter. `A delightful starter with delicious flavours garnished with crispy sage` and I opted for the Smoked ham hock, piccalilli & toasted sourdough. `Ham hock parcels alongside a nice piece of pulled pork pate meat`. Both starters were beautifully presented and tasted wonderful.

For the main event we went for the Bavette steak with fries & chestnut mushroom sauce and the Confit pork belly, colcannon, apple purée & heritage carrots. The Bavette or `flank steak` was a delicious long flat steak cooked medium rare as requested to perfection. The fries or `stringy` chips were a little disappointing. The chestnuts helped provide a delightful savoury taste to the rich velvet creamy mushroom sauce. The perfect accompaniment to a bavette steak.

Who can resist Pork belly with crackling? I couldn`t so I went for the comfort food and ordered the Confit pork belly and was soon rewarded for my choice. Tasty soft fleshy pork topped off with a warm piece of crispy crunchy crackling accompanied with an essential spread of apple sauce, slightly charred heritage carrots and Irish favourite mashed Colcannon. It looked stunning and tasted just as good as it looked.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Shawell

We were told the Sticky toffee pudding recipe was the chef`s mothers old recipe so my wife went for that with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and I chose the White chocolate & vanilla pannacotta, blood orange & ginger. Once again both were stunningly presented and were a satisfying conclusion to a delightful lunchtime `birthday` meal. I even got a single candle in my pudding!

Jim Davis:

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The White Swan, Shawell, Leicestershire:

Value for money: Excellent
Food: Exceptional – beautifully presented and a treat for all of the senses.
Service: The waiting staff were attentive, helpful and smart but not obtrusive.
Disabled access:
Parking: Plenty of parking up a narrow drive to the right of the pub
Grading: 9/10
Total Cost: £60.15 included three course Lunchtime Menu and three drinks for 2 people.

The White Swan, Main Street, Shawell, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 6AG
Tel: 01788 860357 Email: info@whiteswanshawell.co.uk Website: http://www.whiteswanshawell.co.uk

Best Pub Refurbishment 2014 CAMRA AWARD WINNER
Champagne Breakfast: every Saturday Morning served from 10am – 11:30am
Set Lunch menu: 2 or 3 courses (£18.00 / £23.00) served from 12pm – 2.30pm
Wednesday: WIne & Dine Menu changing weekly – 3 Courses with matching wines for under £25! served from 6pm

Gift Vouchers available

Full à la carte Menu, children`s menu and Bar menu all available. See Website for details

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