PUBLISHED: 11:17 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:17 18 November 2014
This month Stephanie Mackentyre reviews The Swan Inn, Monks Eleigh.
THE Swan at Monks Eleigh reopened in September after its new owners, the family-owned Exclusive Inns, undertook to sympathetically refurbish this thatched pub. The menu has also been given a fresh look, with dishes to surprise including frogs’ legs in garlic. The River Stour crayfish with a white bean cream veloute was tempting, but I chose to begin my meal with wood pigeon, carrots and bok choi. My starter arrived in good time and was delightfully presented and the pigeon cooked to perfection with just the right amount of blush.
For my main course, if I’d had the appetite, it would have been calves liver and bacon with creamy mash. Instead, I picked the locally foraged mushroom risotto served with grated parmesan. As I enjoyed it I had an image of the chef foraging the countryside. It certainly tasted as though he’d done exactly that and it was also extremely satisfying.
I enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and my waiter was knowledgeable and kindly suggested a couple of alternatives. I noted that they are open not only for Christmas Parties, but also for Christmas Day and Boxing Day — booking is essential.
For dessert I tried the violet cream with a raspberry sorbet and toasted oatmeal and fresh raspberries. A rustic dessert, the flavours worked rather well and it was something I’d never encountered before.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £24.03 for three courses and a glass of wine. This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
Table Talk with diners Lauren Deal and her grandfather Leo Baker.
What do you do? I live in West Bergholt and I’m a law student studying at Liverpool University, now in my final year.
What did you choose from the menu? I had the prawn and rocket sandwich and then chocolate fondant for dessert.
Why were you at The Swan Inn? We were going out for lunch and hadn’t visited there before.
Describe your dining experience in a sentence: The atmosphere was friendly with welcoming staff and the food was also really nice too.
How would you rate their value for money? I think 7/10.
Worth visiting again? Yes, especially for that dessert, it was really good.
What was the best part of your visit? Before we ate we sat at the bar and got chatting with a couple of friendly locals, which was a really nice start to our lunch together.
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The Swan Inn
Three other traditional village pubs ready to cater for your Christmas Day
The Fox and Goose
We say: Also restored sympathetically to reflect its heritage, but retaining plenty of oak beams.
The Lion and Lamb
Stortford Road (B1256)
We say: This 17th century ale house is minutes from the M11 and within easy reach of Stansted Airport.
The Angel Inn
Stoke by Nayland
We say: This Grade II country inn has recently-refurbished five star accommodation and an open fire, offering you an AA Rosette fine dining Christmas break.