The Swan Felsted, Essex
PUBLISHED: 16:32 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:40 20 February 2013
Stephanie Mackentyre has lunch in The Swan at Felsted
THIS imposing building in Felsted started life as the village bank, but has enjoyed life as the local pub for many years even being completely rebuilt in the 1900s after a ferocious fire. When Jono and Jane Clark first spied it seven years ago, the building had been closed for two years and they certainly had their work cut out turning it around with the help of family and friends to its now stylish state.
Jane explains: We never originally planned to be owner operators, it just happened that way. Jono has a great love of wine and a great head for business, the perfect match for head chef Alec Maxfield who Jane believes has been the real driving force behind The Swans popularity. Now an award-winning establishment, in 2009 The Swan was crowned Great British Food Pub of the Year adding to a string
Alec has worked with the great Heston Blumenthal and for our starter prepared a dish of fresh pan-seared scallops. The dish was interspersed with slices of chorizo and served with a celeriac puree and a sherry vinegar dressing. The whole dish was brimming with flavour and made a fine beginning to the meal.
Alec is regularly called upon to host his Chef for a Day courses, which are proving popular as gifts for food-lovers in the region. The participant spends a day in whites with Alec in the kitchen preparing and serving the lunch service, after which their hard work is rewarded with an afternoon three-course meal for two, while they discuss the tricks of the trade theyve learnt during their one-to-one with Alec.
Next came The Swans bestseller loin of venison with fondant potato, caramelised parsnip puree with chestnuts and Brussels sprouts. The pan-roasted venison was melt-in-the-mouth perfect, served with a deliciously rich port wine jus, and you could taste the freshness of the vegetables too.
Jane explained about two other arms of the business while we dined. The new pub shop offers frozen meals from the current menu to take home, which is a great idea if you want great taste but fancy a cosy night in by the fire. Plus Jane and Jono have launched Passion 8 Catering, an outside catering service for private parties, weddings and even intimate dinner parties.
Dessert couldnt fail to please, as it was a light chocolate sponge pudding just oozing with rich hot chocolate sauce and served with a vivid fruit coulis and double chocolate ice cream.
Like many pretty Essex villages, there is limited space for parking outside, however across the road from The Swan are free spaces available by the church. The couple are also responsible for another of the countys most popular places to eat The Compasses at Pattiswick. If you are yet to sample either, youre missing a treat.
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The Swan at Felsted