The Westerfield Swan
Review date: August 2014
NO UGLY DUCKLING
Eighteen months ago The Swan at Westerfield, just outside Ipswich, stood empty and lifeless but now it’s enjoying a new incarnation courtesy of Deben Inns. Adrian Rawlinson finds out more
In January 2013 it looked as if the Westerfield Swan had gone the way of so many pubs in recent years. The previous landlords had shut the doors and it remained closed for over 6 months. Although there is another pub in the village it was sad to see what had once been a popular and thriving pub sitting empty.
August 2013 however saw the pub spring back to life after being taken over by Deben Inns, who also run The Maybush at Waldringfield, the iconic Butt & Oyster at Pin Mill, The Fox at Newbourne, The Wilford Bridge and the Coach & Horses at Melton.
After a £250,000 refit the Swan re-opened imaginatively refurbished in a style that has become synonymous with the more recent Deben Inn stable refurbs - fresh, bright and welcoming. Each of the pubs remains individual but there is a consistency to the comfortable relaxed yet stylish quality that can be expected.
The Swan is still most definitely a village pub but with food and dining at its core. There are stools at the bar for those who just want to enjoy a drink and a variety of seating through three distinct areas that caters for intimate dining for two through to large parties.
We have visited the Swan quite a few of times since it reopened as it, being a dog friendly pub, has been the start end point for two of our Pub Walks with Darcy series. However it was not until earlier this summer that either my wife or I had eaten there.
Lesley’s trip - a lunch time get together of mother, daughter, niece and great niece – was followed with glowing reviews. The food and the service were both excellent and my she commented that at just over a five minute drive from Ipswich town centre it would be a good place to grab a ‘business’ lunch.
Our visit this time however was an evening one, a Tuesday evening in late July. What was immediately apparent as we arrived, shortly after 7pm, was that it was already busy. Not busy in a negative way but most tables were occupied and there was a congenial buzz. At such times I recall there is an Elvis Presley record called ‘50,000,000 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong’ and while I’m not suggesting that the Swan has yet established a following of that size I always think if a venue is consistently busy – which it has been each time we have visited – it must be doing something right.
When we arrived, having pre-booked, we were shown to our table which was situated by the main bay window. It may not have the river views of the Maybush, or the Butt & Oyster but I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet and peaceful it was. Although it is situated beside the main road through the village I cannot say I was conscious of passing cars at any point.
The menu is simple and varied. There are ‘nibbles and bites’, starters and then the main meals are split into ‘from our local butcher’ ‘from the sea’ and the vegetarian selection ‘from the fields and farms’. In addition there is also a selection of meat, fish and vegetarian platters which can be chosen as single portion or to share and a selection of daily specials. The Swan also offers a gluten free menu with a good selection of dishes.
Being big fans of the fish sharing platter at the Maybush we nearly slipped into the habit of ordering the same again. However spying a Caprese salad of buffalo mozzarella, plum tomatoes, torn basil and extra virgin olive oil on the starter menu as well as king prawns with garlic-chilli butter, white wine parley and ciabatta we thought that we would create our own shared dish. Getting two extra plates was no problem at all for our very helpful waitress. The combination was perfect and alone would have served as a lovely lunch.
For our mains we both stuck to the ‘from our local butcher’ section of the menu although had both been tempted by a couple of the daily special fish offerings. My wife went for the aged 10oz rib eye steak and I chose the breast of duck with super food salad of roasted plums, quinoa, squash, beetroot, hazelnuts and baby gem lettuce.
The steak option is often one of our ‘test’ dishes. There are few things nicer than a tasty well-cooked steak and few things more disappointing than a poor one. Thankfully Lesley’s steak was 100 per cent in the former camp. Flavoursome and perfectly cooked accompanied by a punchy rocket and parmesan salad, chips and roasted plum tomatoes. Likewise my duck was very well cooked – still pink and again full of flavour. The superfood salad made a refreshing change. Quinoa is in my opinion an underused ingredient. It has been recognised by the United Nations as a ‘supercrop’ for its health benefits and is a good alternative to rice or couscous. Combined with the other ingredients it worked really well, my only criticism was that there was too much. Half the portion would still have been ample.
For desserts we chose cheese and biscuits and a mixed summer berry Eton mess with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants and blackberries. The mess ironically wasn’t a mess but was beautifully presented in a wine glass in neat layers, the berries were sharp and a perfect way to round of our meal.
A special mention must go to the waiting staff who were excellent throughout the evening. Despite being very busy nothing was too much trouble for them which was demonstrated perfectly when an elderly gentleman diner seated near us needed a different chair to sit comfortably at the table which was delivered instantly with no fuss.
In all an excellent evening and one that will be repeated.
The Westerfield Swan
Westerfield Rd, Westerfield, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 9AJ
Phone: 01473 251447
For more information and offers visit: www.debeninns.co.uk/swan