Quick lunch in Michelin accredited pub near Rugby for Â£15 - too good to be true?
In 2012 The White Swan changed hands - now the Michelin-accredited pub near Rugby says it can offer you a lunch cooked by a chef with experience at Michelin-starred restaurants for Â£15.
For those interested, and those not, my idea of lunch is a frantically gobbled supermarket meal deal.
I’m not alone, and to make things more bleak, studies suggest the majority of us don’t even bother leaving our desks for lunch.
Cue an invitation to The White Swan pub on Main Street in Shawell, which now offers an ‘express lunch’.
The Michelin-accredited pub says it is trying to show people that a decent cooked lunch can be had in under 45 minutes.
When you travel over quaint spindly roads to get there, it’s hard to believe the pub is 10 minutes away from junction 19 of the M1.
It’s well connected enough with Rugby that a lunchtime trip is feasible, but you get a ‘country pub’ feel.
The pub is a ‘chocolate box’ cottage – its front adorned with a bushy mane of some sort of creeping plant.
The decor is smart, a well-balanced fusion of contemporary simplicity and rustic character.
I was served a series of tapas-sized taster dishes. Several of the sample dishes, smoked salmon and avocado on Irish-style soda bread, soup of the day with brie toastie, and beer battered cod, were taken from the lunch Express menu.
The smoked salmon was fresh, with a velvet texture and a visceral ‘ocean’ flavour. I was told the soda bread was baked on site – I could have eaten a whole loaf of it.
The soup, tomato and basil, was a bit pungent for me, although that’s more to do with my taste and not its quality. The toastie it came with was nice enough.
The cod was beautifully delicate, the beer batter was airy, crispy, and dry enough that it wasn’t greasy. What made that dish was the addition of a gently-sweet lemon preserve.
The final tapas-style sampler was beef cheek, cooked overnight, with mashed potato, veg and a carrot puree. The beef was sublimely rich and it melted in my mouth. The mashed potato was perfectly seasoned and had a ‘just right’ consistency.
Pudding was a date sponge with coconut, pineapple, and rum. A white chocolate and strawberry parfait and a rhubarb bakewell. All were excellently done.
The quality of the food, much of it locally sourced by the way, was matched by the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff – they really care about what they’re doing.
Their wine list, which was sampled, adds to the experience – especially as staff are brilliant at matching wines to dishes.
Owner and chef patron Rory McClean asid: "Since we took over the White Swan in 2012, we’ve made drastic changes to all areas of the pub.
"From developing the property and giving a complete revamp of the interior design, we’ve taken a pub in need of a lot of and love commitment and turned it into the Michelin accredited destination dining venue that it is today."The White Swan has had a colourful history, lacking direction under a series of different ownerships; now, it’s a hub of fine, affordable dining priding itself on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
"Most recently, we’ve introduced a series of events including our new private chef hire where one of our chefs will come out to you to cook and serve delicious food in the comfort of your own home.
"We’re excited for the White Swan’s future and all the new unique dishes and flavours we’re going to create."
I’m told Mr McClean is aiming to get the pub a Michelin Star. Put your money on his succeeding – it’s a safe bet.
The Express Lunch Menu is offered from Tuesday - Friday, between 12pm and 2pm. It includes a main, a side, amuse-bouche and petit fours. See goo.gl/w2gRgG
To learn more about the pub, or to get in touch visit www.whiteswanshawell.co.uk or call 01788 860357