The Swan Inn – Proper Cooking But No Service
The Swan Inn’s charming atmosphere demonstrated everything right about British middle-class taste: all Kirstie Allsop and no Hyacinth Bucket. Unfortunately, the clientele was everything wrong with British middle-class taste: over-indulged mothers and carbon copy daughters, hawkishly scanning with beady eyes and anxious dispositions. The Swan Inn’s interior provided colourful, quirky, classy touches that remained traditional without being slavishly Laura Ashley. Regardless, on this summer’s day, the stylish dining area was upstaged by the pleasant stretch of River Leven, providing picture perfect picnicking in Newby Bridge.
The Swan Inn menu was pleasingly concise, full of solid choices that all sounded delicious. The unfussy food was as it should be, focusing on big flavours with sophisticated touches to retain interest. The dry cured rib of beef was so good it induced a fit of giggles. I expected to find Desperate Dan wearing his Sunday Best tucking into one. Non-vegetarians gearing up for an afternoon hike owe themselves this dish. If you are a vegetarian, order it anyway and don’t tell anyone. The baked Alaska was not a desert but a challenge – a right of passage for pubescent Inuits to prove their masculinity.
I wanted to love The Swan Inn at Newby Bridge, but service let it down: it wasn’t offensive, just non-existent. All outside tables were taken, yet no staff were outside. They were bizarrely inefficient: kept as far away as possible from the majority of diners. It wasn’t the end of the world queuing at the bar; however, when lunch arrived and more wine was required, staff weren’t allowed to take drink orders. I requested the tables worth of drinks at the bar but wasn’t offered a tray. No check back was received during the meal, and we had to clear our own plates as the desserts were served.
Regarding value, The Swan Inn in Newby Bridge was toward the upper price point of Lake District restaurants; however, the setting both inside and out was noteworthy, the portions generous and the ingredients top notch.
The Swan Inn Review Summary
Atmosphere 9/10 Cost 5/10 Quality 8/10 Service 3/10