I’m back from my toilet holiday with another roast dinner review, this time of The Swan Inn in Isleworth. Will it be a super roast? Or a roast dinner of concern? Scroll down to find the answer then move onto doing something more productive than reading this shite.
Still with me?
Sigh. I have writer’s block. I don’t know what to write. And I have to start work in 20 minutes.
So this week I was tasked with finding somewhere on the to-do list that my friend could drive to from Reading, and that wasn’t too difficult to get to Heathrow from afterwards. The Swan Inn ticked those boxes.
Alas, it was a pain to get to from Harrow and I had a pretty stonking hangover thanks to drinking the day before with my crazy friend. 3 tubes to Richmond followed by a 30 minute walk in the cold.
Give me the swans
It’s a rare accolade in a London pub for the barman to suggest that it is nice to see new faces in there – The Swan Inn clearly was a local’s pub though it didn’t have that “get the fuck out or I’ll stab you” feel that some local’s pubs have, mostly up north.
It definitely had a dated feel inside, though still very much functioning – it had the feel of a pub that might be dated but was actually providing a community hub for the locals, somewhere to eat, somewhere to drink, somewhere to bang on about how sexy Nadine Dorries is…
It felt like it worked. They even had a Neck Oil for me to drink – and I was a bit concerned before I went that I might be forced to drink Foster’s or some trash like that – the barman advised me that it was a recent addition.
During the week, The Swan Inn do Thai food. And on a Sunday, they do a carvery. Nothing more, nothing less, they seem to keep their options simple. Not sure what a vegetarian was supposed to do…I don’t even know how much the carvery cost. I kind of need to find that out don’t I?
Hmmm. The total bill for 3 people was £82.50. We had 5 beers and 2 coffees. So I guess a carvery was £15.00 each? There definitely wouldn’t have been any service charge as it was a go to the bar kind of experience.
You want a menu also? Well, it was on a chalkboard above the bar. Beef, lamb, pork, turkey and gammon. I’m not doing very good at this review, am I?
It’s Peter Swan. Obviously. It says in the heading. But apparently there was more than one Peter Swan and now I’m confused.
This is a crap review isn’t it? First I pick somewhere that is a total ballache to get to. Then it ends up being somewhere that none of you have heard of and won’t care to read. Now I cannot even write anything worth reading. Maybe I need a break. Maybe we need a lockdown. Maybe I need the government to inspire me. Or maybe I should tell you the story about my friend who got pulled over doing 20mph in a 60mph zone because he did too much ketamine.
OK let’s get this review of concern out of the way. The carrot was soft and quite nice.
The two parsnips were acceptable, though they felt like they were from a packet – my mum served me similar back at Christmas in May.
Did I mention that it was a carvery? So we went up and queued for our meat, which was really generously sliced – none of this Toby cretinous carving here. 5 options – I chose beef and gammon as I thought they looked most recently cooked.
Then you walk over to the vegetable section but again someone serves you – they did have some other options – peas, cabbage – possibly something else that I didn’t fancy.
The mashed swede was ok. Quite crumbly, a tiny bit buttery but mostly just ok.
You know, August was the last time that I had a really good roast dinner. August. I’m really just going through the motions with this review. I’ll do better next time, I promise.
So I said to the woman dishing up, “can I have some roast potatoes…sorry…I mean fried potatoes”, to which she laughed in a way that suggested that I’m not unique in that joke. They did again seem either fried or perhaps from a packet. There was a crispy edge on one, they were kind of soft in the middle – but these weren’t freshly made roast potatoes.
The Yorkshire pudding was freshly cooked – I even saw them preparing the next batch by pouring batter into what looked like a cold muffin tin. Alas, my Yorkshire pudding hadn’t finished cooking – it was really quite stodgy, like semi-cooked batter that had been left waiting for me.
Onto the meats – neither of which particularly impressed. The beef was quite beefy in flavour, but was not far off well-done. The gammon was a bit tough and had less flavour than I expected. Quantity was high, and lesser mortals may not have eaten it all.
Stuffing went with neither but I didn’t care. Maybe it was also from a packet but packet stuffing is actually pretty good in my experience – and this was herby and a little gooey. It reminded me of the stuffing that my mum would make for us when I was a child instead of a manchild. And that was Paxo.
I almost forgot about the cauliflower cheese, which yes was also part of the carvery unlike many pubs which try to con you into paying £6.00 extra and that I fall for repeatedly. This was pretty good, the cauliflower was quite soft, there was cheese flavouring, the cream was sticky and didn’t infect the gravy. Yeah, it was good cauliflower cheese.
I’m kind of in my flow now. Actually starting to enjoy writing this review, and I only have the gravy left to tell you about. Well, she did say to me, “tell me when to stop”. And kept looking at me, expecting me to say “stop”. I don’t think I could have put much more on there without ending up with brown marks on my jeans for the second weekend in a row.
And yes it was good gravy. It was proper gravy, thick gravy – not the tastiest ever but broadly a good, proper gravy. And that is all we need. Can you imagine that roast coming with some wanky jus?
Sum up The Swan Inn and end this shitty review.
I think truly appreciating this roast dinner at The Swan Inn depends on whether you prefer quantity over quality. The quantity was very much there – I’ve been served roast dinners elsewhere with about a third of the amount of food offered. And about a tenth of the amount of gravy.
The quality was there in places – notably from the cauliflower cheese, the gravy and the stuffing – though the latter may well have just been Paxo. But I like Paxo.
Some of it was on the poor side – the stodgy yorkie, the seemingly fried potatoes, the poor parsnips.
I’m scoring it a 6.91 out of 10. For me – just not enough quality. For my friend who enjoys food at Wetherspoons, he scored it a 7.80. My other friend, who is from France and has never been to roast club before, scored it a 7.50.
If you are in the area (or don’t mind going to awkward places) and want a load of food, The Swan Inn is worth a try.
But it was quantity over quality.
Just 3 more roast dinner adventures left in 2021. The next one is a bit of an unknown – it isn’t even on my to-do list. The two after should…should…be 8’s. Go on. For me.
The Swan Inn, Isleworth
Tube Lines: District, National Rail, Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 4
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Cauliflower cheese was very good, stuffing was probably Paxo but I like Paxo. Thick gravy.
Loathed: Yorkie was stodgy and not cooked long enough. Roast potatoes seemed fried. Parsnips a bit naff also.