Food review: Superb value for a nice lunch at The Swan at Blakedown
One a cold, winter’s day, having just enjoyed a lovely trip on the Severn Valley Railway, my family and I went hunting for a traditional, friendly, cosy pub.
We were hungry and full of the joys of Christmas – sorry, but we were, there’s no fighting it anymore – and having alighted at Kidderminster after being treated to visit from Santa and plenty of seasonal music and cheer on the Severn Valley Railway, it was time for a meal and a few drinks.
We decided to go for The Swan at Blakedown. A little research online showed us it seemed to tick all the boxes: family friendly, nice layout, cosy feel and nice pub grub.
It was, however, a good job we booked slightly in advance because the pub is clearly a popular little place and it soon became apparent why.
Despite it having the look and feel of a traditional pub, which had been nicely decorated and kitted out, it also had the feel of a restaurant too.
We were seated at a table with some high chairs in a little nook, away from the hustle and bustle, although that would not have been a problem as everyone was in good spirits – it’s just that my five-year-old daughter, Annabelle, simply loves those high chairs.
My mom, Nadine, was also with us along with my wife, Kelly, so we sat at a table for four, and another nice touch was the waitress service.
Despite the fact the place was clearly very busy, we had two ladies working really hard to make sure we had everything we needed. They even apologised afterwards for a ‘delay’ with our food when the truth was it was nice to get a bit of a break between courses. They were given a good tip, which just about says it all.
We were drawn to the lunch time menu once we had been seated for two reasons – it looked great and was also very reasonably priced.
There were two options. The first had all the pub classics – and some nice little extras too – like fig, Stilton and walnut tart, Cumberland sausages with mashed potatoes, peas and red onion gravy, poached salmon with pesto dressing, Jamaican jerk chicken and rice with homemade coleslaw and mixed leaves, pan fried duck breast, roasted red onion, and butternut squash and pumpkin tagine.
The set lunch menu, however, gave a nice choice of three starters and three mains – all for under a tenner. It was too hard to resist.
In the end, it was just my wife and I who went for a starter while my mom kindly agreed to play with my daughter in the beer garden for a few minutes. Grandparents are good like that.
Mackerel salad was my choice while Kelly went for the Greek version.
When it arrived I was treated to some slightly-smoky, slightly-peppered fish, and plenty of it too, layered over a basic salad of cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, with a nice dressing over the top too.
The fish was lovely with no bones to worry about either and when eaten with a bit of the salad and dressing it was a nice, light meal to start.
Kelly said her Greek salad was also lovely, with tasty oil dressing working really well with the olives and feta cheese.
I then went to rescue my mom from the beer garden and we all sat down for the mains.
Choices included homemade pie of the day served with mashed potatoes or chunky chips, peas and gravy, homemade three-bean chilli with rice or grilled cod with new potatoes, wilted spinach and lemon parsley butter.
I love a chilli and the veggie option is always good, so I opted for that one while Kelly, for a change, chose the fish.
Mom and Annabelle, meanwhile, went for the lasagne and they probably chose wisest.
My chilli, however, was also really tasty and it was clear some real effort had been put in behind the scenes as it tasted really fresh.
There wasn’t much kick to it but what it lacked in spice it really made up for with flavour.
It was quite a simple dish but there was a perfect amount. Not too filling but it definitely didn’t leave me hungry afterwards.
Simply put, the starter and main, all for under a tenner, were superb value for a really nice, lunchtime special.
Kelly said her cod was perhaps a little bland and it was quite a small portion, which could have done with some extra veg, but it was still tasty and light.
All things considered, it was a good option for those trying not to over indulge over the Christmas period. And the fish was nicely cooked too.
Mom’s lasagne was probably the best dish out of the lot, which was just a larger version of the meal Annabelle also devoured.
It was packed with flavour and tasted really wholesome. The herbs really brought out the other flavours and, again, it was clear it had been made fresh, there and then, which is no mean feat when a restaurant is so busy.
Sometimes it can be easy to over or undercook meals but ours were all cooked perfectly. My advice, if you ever pop in, is give the lasagne a whirl.
We didn’t have room for desserts but the staple classics of sticky toffee pudding, homemade vanilla cheesecake and tiramisu with fresh cream were all available for around a fiver.
All in all it was a lovely way to spend a few hours enjoying food, drink and chatter with the family. Certainly worth checking out.
If you’re not stopping by at lunchtime, the evening menu is available 6pm to 9pm daily and changes every few weeks. There is also a set-priced mid-week special, Monday to Thursday, also 6pm to 9pm. Food is served all day Saturday and until 8pm on Sundays.
Prices for the lunch time menu start at £5.95, a set lunch is available Monday to Saturday – with two courses for £9.99 – and there is also a ‘pie & pint’ or ‘burger & beer’ for £7.99.
The Swan at Blakedown also caters for events and functions including birthdays, Christenings, wakes and weddings, as well as offering bespoke outside catering serving everything from hog roasts to full wedding breakfasts, or full fork luxury buffets to budget business finger buffets.