Located in a back street, away from the village’s touristy centre, the Black Swan is a good example of a pub that’s been “done up”. Not done in a way that, as often, ruins its character but in a way that leaves you in no doubt you’re in a pub. So, there’s a room for drinkers and a room for eaters.
The restaurant bit has a Modern British menu that, perhaps unsurprisingly, gives some prominence to seafood (as do a number of places round here). For example, there’s a seafood platter for sharing, which I reckon we would try on a future visit. There’s a kitchen team who know how to cook their food. And servers with a ready smile, who also do their thing well.
Swallows Ltd is a smokehouse literally round the corner from the pub. Their main product is kippers and , here, the Swan turns them in to a pate. It’s powerfully smoky, but not unpleasantly so. It comes with toast and a handful of salad leaves. Monkfish Caesar salad was a take on the classic. Chunks of fish, coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried. Crisp anchovies and shards of pancetta add to the flavour. There’s Cos lettuce, of course, sprinkled with Parmesan, and croutons flavoured with garlic and herb. It’s lovely.
Another local supplier is Carters, the butcher in neighbouring Bamburgh. Locally, they are renowned for their sausages and they supply them to the Swan. You get three big, fat pork sausages – one flavoured with sage and onion, another with apple and a third with lots of black pudding. They sit on a mound of mashed potato, enhanced with white pudding and are topped with a red onion chutney, which brings a tangy sweetness. There’s crispy shallots ( and there needed to be more of them) and an assertive gravy made from beef bones. Lamb rump came from up the road in the Scottish Borders and was served with pan haggerty and nice takes on classic vegetables – carrots, crispy shredded parsnip, pea puree flavoured with mint and a few enoki mushrooms. A red wine sauce brought it all together.
Ice cream as a dessert for both of us. One of us took a scoop of vanilla and another of salted caramel. For the other, it was just vanilla but that was a sideshow. The main feature was two pears perfectly poached in sweetened red wine, which formed the sauce. A scattering of seasonal berries sets it off. This was really good – one of the best things eaten during our week in the area. Good espresso rounded off a nice evening.