The White Swan

September 14, 2013

Very nice lunch yesterday at the White Swan in Shawell. Just south of Lutterworth, it’s amazing to think this peaceful, pretty little village is hard by the carmaggeddon that is the Catthorpe interchange where the M6 and M1 team up.

It’s definitely in the posh country pub category and those who are put off by a pub that has a sign behind the bar telling about its “house champagne” might want to look elsewhere. Less than a year after its major makeover its still very smart and new but its not poncey (and I should say there’s great beer, brewed round the corner by Dow Bridge in Catthorpe, as well champagne). It’s nice, light, airy and most importantly the food is very good and the staff seem to care. I had the no-choice set lunch starting with rib-eye steak with peppercorn sauce with fries and salad. It was great – a lovely steak (from nearby Onley Farm) was well-seasoned, beautifully cooked and the sauce was pitched perfectly to give a little heat but not to deaden the tastebuds. A desert of treacle tart with clotted cream ice-cream and berries was similarly faultless.

Chef Rory McCLean has cooked in top kitchens and it seems to show here with all the details being right – the cooking of the steak, the temperature of the salad (not fridge cold), the quality of the pastry, the sweetness of the raspberries.  You’ll need to book at weekends but definitely one worth checking out.

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The White Swan, Shawell

February 10, 2013

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Midlands chef with big ambition and talent to match is likely to pitch up in London. Fortunately for the rest of us there comes a time when they’ve had enough of the pressure cooker and look to return home. Sometimes it’s because they want a more human place to bring up a family, or maybe they just compare the costs of setting up a restuarant in Mayfair or taking over a pub in Leicestershire. I think of Brian Baker at the Marquess of Exeter, Dameon Clarke at the Wicked Witch and Adam Grey at The Red Lion in East Haddon as among the local boys who’ve returned from ostensibly more glamourous careers.

News now reaches me of another wanderer returned. Rugby lad Rory McClean has spells with Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social and Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley on his CV, but has now taken over the White Swan at Shawell, just south of Lutterworth. The 17th century pub has been renovated inside and out and looks modern and smart with lots of light oak, comfy sofas and so on.

There’s an all day pub food menu with the likes of rabbit scotch egg, chorizo arrancini and venison burger, and then a proper a la carte menu in the evening. This looks rather attractive with starters such as Orkney scallops with egg,peas and bacon and mains including suckling pig with black pudding, apple and cider and roast Northfield Farm duck with lentils.There’s a great looking winelist and Leicestershire real ales from Dow Bridge of Catthorpe are on offer. It’s not been open long and I’ve not seen any reviews but everything looks promising. Good luck and welcome home Rory.

[Edit – see also this quick review from later in the year]

White Swan Restaurant

White Swan Restaurant

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