A Night at The Swan Inn with Paul WelburnLeave a Comment
On a crisp and clear February evening, we were warmly welcomed into The Swan Inn, nestled in the beautiful Oxfordshire village of Islip.
Headed up by Chef Patron Paul Welburn (who achieved a Michelin Star at The Oxford Kitchen), The Swan boasts cosy and stylish décor with a personal touch. The village’s roots are not forgotten with artwork from the local community up in the bar and restaurant.
Before we get onto the food, a little about The Swan itself. A beautiful 17th century Cotswolds pub, it has frequently changed hands, and never quite found its place in the hearts of the locals. Until now. A group of four couples in the village approached Paul with a proposition – to make something really special – and The Swan was re-born. On arrival, the shiny, open kitchen is the first thing you see and the mouth-watering smells are a promise of what’s to come. The Swan boasts a cosy bar area, which you can relax in before moving through to the Cygnet restaurant and bar.
A must-see feature? The immaculately and inventively decorated toilets. They are themed, one in the style of each couple, and range from a London nightclub-inspired disco to Henley Regatta. The artwork, and sculptures are also captivating.
The Tasting Menu
The four course tasting menu is £60 per person and changes each week so you have to keep coming back for more. And you’ll definitely want to! With a flight of paired wines at £40 per person, we’ve booked ourselves in again!
Bread and Snacks
We started off with delicious warm bread, accompanied by salted butter and yeast butter – both divine. Paul created some delicious amuse bouches including his signature trout ceviche tartlets with gin and tonic coulis. A bold and innovative take on sesame prawn toast was plated in our Copper Tri-Ply mini frying pan and elevated a family favourite to fine dining heights. Our Copper Tri-Ply Range is especially fab for serving up dishes. Check out what else we love about it here!
These snacks went perfectly with a bold mango cocktail. The Cygnet boasts an excellent wine and cocktail list, with their bartenders happy to whip up whatever takes your fancy!
Each course celebrated a key ingredient. The carrot for starters, halibut in the fish dish, pork for the main, and pear for dessert. These ingredients absolutely sang and each dish was a completely new take on anything we have had before.
The joy of the Cygnet is that the menu changes every few weeks so there are always new and exciting culinary journies to be had! The produce is all locally sourced and is a real celebration of British products.
Paul’s starter was a whole carrot, cooked in its own juices, with dukkah, goats curd and black garlic. It was a true celebration of the carrot as we’ve never seen it before!
The baby gem, caper and raisin puree was a real highlight of the halibut dish, which was topped off by a lemongrass velouté. The fish was melt-in-the-mouth, and combined with the rich flavours, was probably my favourite dish!
A pork fillet and slow cooked collar, sage dumplings, ‘chutney’ sauce and radish was the main event. Impressively topped with a crackling tweel, the slow cooked collar melted in the mouth and, combined with the sage dumpling, was a real winter treat.
The ‘chutney’ sauce packed a punch and was full of flavour. The sage and radish cut through the rich pork. If you’re doing the wine pairing, you won’t be disappointed. Accompanying this wintery main was a full-bodied German 2020 Pinot Noir. It’s a testament to the thoughtfulness behind the wine pairings that we had never had a German Pinot Noir before, and it complimented the dish perfectly.
Continuing along the theme of warming winter flavours, the sticky pear pudding with butterscotch sauce and iced pear was joyous.
This little corner of culinary heaven is just what the area needs. It’s delicious fine dining at affordable prices. The welcoming, friendly atmosphere of a village pub lives on, but it is now so much more than a pub. The Swan is also a 10 minute walk from the train station, with direct trains to London in just over an hour. It really is a must-visit destination, perfect for family dinners, celebrations, date night, or just a bit of a treat. Book on their website now!
Written by Eliza