Whilst some villages lack any decent takeaways, let alone a proper pub, The Swan in Ascott-under-Wychwood is covering all the bases.
Hosting a weekly curry and steak night, means everyone is happy, and judging by the number of locals partaking, it’s too good an opportunity to miss.
‘our waiter Luca was an absolute gem of a find, keeping us not only immaculately fed and watered but royally entertained. We loved him’
If, on the other hand, curry isn’t your thing, or you’d prefer to eat from the main menu, you can. The world is your oyster.
So there we were, knife and fork in hand of a Tuesday night, appetites heightened, ready for some proper Indian spicing from head chef Tim Kensett, and he didn’t disappoint.
The swan is sister to The Chequers in Churchill, the recently opened Black Horse in Salford and the work-in-progress Cock in Combe
Neither did our waiter for the night Luca, an absolute gem of a find, keep us immaculately fed and watered but royally entertained. We loved him.
But first a bit about the pub – sister to The Chequers in Churchill, the recently opened Black Horse in Salford (READ OUR REVIEW HERE) and the work-in-progress Cock in Combe, The Swan is perhaps Lionhearth‘s flagship; the 16th century pub renowned in the Cotswolds and beyond.
Really welcoming, with a roaring fire, locals at the bar and lots of different eating areas and snugs to choose from, it manages to pull of that gastro/locals pub combo that the likes of The Back Lane Tavern in Woodstock and The Plough in Hanney achieve.
Seated in a sweet dining area on the other side of the bar, complete with beams, funky paintings and chintz wallpeper, so far so very Cotswolds.
The menu is equally as accessible, too many tantalising dishes to choose from, especially with the chicken tikka main with popadoms and garlic naan, a home made mango chutney and coriander rice thrown in, which with a drink is £19, such a great deal.
the twice baked mature Cheddar cheese soufflé with spinach and mushroom sauce won hands down
And yet we still blithely ordered the curry and chips from the ‘nibbles’ section, alongside the tomato and anchovy crostini while we were perusing the rest of the menu, oh and some unfeasibly good bread and butter, all of which were impossible to resist, and really raised the bar before we’d even started.
Then the twice baked mature Cheddar cheese soufflé with spinach and mushroom sauce (£11), because not only is it the gage of a good chef (think Brasserie Blanc and The White Hart Wytham for some serious offerings), but an immediate must.
My arteries quivered in fear as the wonderfully decadent Smoked Haddock Monte Carlo was placed before me
And of all the wonderful rich, autumnal food to pass our lips, it won hands down. Generous portion-wise, it had that wonderful aerated moussey texture with just the right bounce, surrounded by a heavily mustardy, silky smooth cream sauce that I literally wanted to drink, dotted with fresh herbs, and then settled on a bed of sautéed mushrooms and squeaky clean spinach. Absolute heaven.
That’s not to detract from the classic prawn cocktail with brown bread (£12); featuring huge juicy prawns and a sauce that had a real kick to it, nothing wishy washy here and unabashedly old school.
As for the curry, it was gorgeous, hearty, ample, buttery smooth and spicy – the perfect all rounder
My arteries quivered in fear as the wonderfully decadent Smoked Haddock Monte Carlo (£19) was placed before me, sat on a plump, unctuous round of mash, like a mozzarella. And yet the clean, soft, flaky fish cut through the slick, white wine sauce, the poached egg, providing the accompanying sloppiness required.
As for the curry, it was gorgeous, hearty, ample, buttery smooth and spicy – the perfect all rounder. The garlic naan was another irresistible bit of culinary temptation, greasy, smoky, dripping in garlic and herbs and just the right consistency of stretchy doughiness and black scorched smokiness.
the steamed lemon sponge with lemon curd and evaporated milk was serious nursery food
How we managed dessert I’ll never know – the steamed lemon sponge (sponges are back in a big way everywhere this season) with lemon curd and evaporated milk (£8), serious nursery food, which was properly lemony rather than excessively sweet.
The dark chocolate mousse with confit orange and a citrus crumble was more of a mystery, because there was also a scoop of caramel which we hadn’t expected and the crumble was more like granola, so the soft mousse and sticky crunch didn’t really go together.
‘keep an eye out for me. I’ll be sitting quietly in the corner enjoying a soufflé with a glass of wine, happy as Larry’
But by then we were finding it hard to breath, thanks to a lack of waist-band space, so replete and content we wandered back out into the rural countryside marvelling at what Ascott-under Wychwood has right on its doorstep.
So when you venture there for curry night on Tuesdays, or steak nights (flat iron steak frites with a glass of wine for £19) on Thursdays, keep an eye out for me. I’ll be sitting quietly in the corner enjoying a soufflé with a glass of wine, happy as Larry. See you there.
The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood is at https://lionhearth.co.uk/the-swan/