The Swan at Forton has fond memories for many of us, mostly known for their incredible carvery and comfortable countryside setting. It had been a while since I last dined there, but after having an extremely busy couple of weeks the thought of dining in an 18th century former coaching Inn only a few minutes away from Newport, but enough to be in the countryside seemed very appealing and relaxing.
The first thing that caught my eye was the sign above the door ‘Welcome to somewhere different’ which seemed promising and inviting, under new ownership since January 2012, the new owners, British Country Inns, have kept the original features and country charm of The Swan which I was pleased about. The amazing Chandelier was still hanging prominently in the bar, with the stripped wooden floorboards and open fireplaces it seemed the ideal place to relax!
The new managers of The Swan are Lisa and Mal Mellor, Mal is also head chef and has over twenty years of experience in the industry and offers traditional classics on the menu with a contemporary twist, somewhere different all makes sense!
We were shown to our table set in the conservatory, a bright room, candlelit table perfectly set, the Swan at Forton has a very spacious dining area, I could see the huge carvery area at the back of the restaurant which I had fond memories off. Also in the restaurant is an interesting collage of beautiful mirrors creating a great feature in the restaurant.
Advertised around the restaurant are various themed nights and offers, it seemed a popular one was their Pie and a pint, a homemade pie with a pint of ale or Fosters for only £10 Monday to Saturday.
We were a little overwhelmed with the menu, there seemed to be so many different dishes that seemed tempting, I chose for starters an aromatic pork pie served warm with sweet piccalilli and crusty bread priced at £4.95 and Ann chose a Summer fruits infused seafood martini with Salmon, Prawns and Cod priced at £5.95.
I chose the Pork Pie to be a little different, and it certainly was, I have to admit I have never eaten warm pork pie but combined with the sweet piccalilli it was delicious, I believe it is fairly new to the menu but I am sure it will be popular. The dish is also served with a salad with a very tasty dressing.
Ann’s Seafood Martini looked very impressive, packed with plenty of salmon, prawns and salad a great combination of flavours. It was obvious to see Head Chef Mal took great pride in the presentation and taste of his food, a good result so far!
The Swan has a good reputation for Steaks, so for my main course I chose the 10oz Rib Eye char grilled Steak served with grilled tomato, onion rings, chunky chips and salad for my main course priced at £15.95 and a red wine sauce for an additional £1.95 and Ann chose the healthier option Tagliatelle with Prawns finished with sundried tomato, onion, mushrooms and creamy pesto and parmesan cheese priced at £11.95.
When they arrived I was pleased to see that the chips were homemade, many restaurants now claim to serve chunky chips but they can tend to be steak cut frozen chips which is always a disappointment, not at The Swan. Both dishes were presented to a very high standard; I could understand the traditional menu with a contemporary twist.
My 10oz Rib eye was extremely tender, cooked to perfection, medium rare, and full of flavour, the red wine sauce was rich and a perfect flavour to compliment the quality portion of steak. The chips were just as they should be, homemade and chunky. Ann’s dish looked equally as impressive, served with a side dish of Garlic Bread which looked like a main dish on its own, ciabatta served with salad. The presentation was excellent; looking around at other diners every meal that left the kitchen looked perfect which proved that head chef had a real passion for food. Ann thoroughly enjoyed her dish, although a large portion, she did have to leave a little Tagliatelle, the dish had a generous serving of prawns and a great rich creamy sauce.
At this point I must express how full we were and very satisfied with the meals we had chosen, although it was one of those moments when you look at the dessert menu thinking you couldn’t possibly eat anymore then the perfect pudding catches your eye and you can’t resist! It happened to both of us, no surprise there! The Chocolate and Banana bread and butter pudding served with custard at £4.95 caught my eye, I know a very filling dessert but I just had to try it! Ann chose the more delicate dessert Raspberry and Vanilla Panna Cotta with berries also priced at £4.95. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the desserts arrived and looked very impressive, thinking my pudding would be quite heavy it wasn’t at all, the perfect combination of banana and chocolate oozed out of the pudding, just the right amount, every mouthful was a delight! Ann’s Panna Cotta was beautifully presented with a large portion of fruit; once again Ann couldn’t complete the challenge, although she did thoroughly enjoy it!
Children are welcome at The Swan, they do offer a children’s menu at £5.50. They can also cater for parties for 10 to 70 people either in the main dining room or in the private regency room and have a number of menu options available. You can also stay the night, with 10 en suite rooms available sleeping up to 21 guests from £35 per night.