I must confess I don’t visit Edgbaston half as much as I should, a realisation I had confirmed during a recent visit to The White Swan, set just off Harborne Road.
An upmarket pub that’s brimming with character, The White Swan manages to be both stylish and homely, thanks in part to the extensive refurbishment that’s just taken place. The bright and stylish interior is inviting, as is the menu, with an impressive variety of gastropub style food. At the bar, equally modern after the makeover, guests can find a lovely selection of real ales and wines, and as we’re seated our server, Nathan, tells us the cocktails aren’t at all bad either. Music to my ears.
Despite dining on a Monday night (right before payday no less) we found both the bar area and half of the restaurant quite busy; nice to see in a pub outside of the city centre. The autumn dinner menu offers seasonal dishes with an emphasis of comforting and indulgent entrees, mains and desserts. My heart was instantly happy at the very sight of how much cheese and cream seemed to be involved at this place, and choosing what to eat actually proved to be tricky – talk about first world problems..
A selection of warm artisan breads arrived first, with a tangy balsamic vinegar and quality olive oil to soak up, alongside nocellar olives; a delightful appetiser to kick things off. The seeded wholemeal bread in particular was tasty, and the green olives were wonderfully buttery.
An Elderflower Gin Fix (£7.95) that combines Tanqueray gin, elderfower liqueur and a rhubarb and rosehip cordial with cucumber biters to create a delicious twist on a sour was a lovely cocktail accompaniment.
My delicate Lobster and Tiger Prawn Pot (£7.95) starter proved to be an excellent choice, with the creamy Devon crab and crème fraiche mixture acting like a coarse fishy pate on the toasted ciabatta bread. Despite looking beautiful in terms of presentation and having plenty of seafood flavour, it perhaps lacked a grind of fresh black pepper; a very small gripe really. Ian’s Salt and Pepper Squid (£6.95) was delicately flavoured with a light batter.
Onto the main event with a picture perfect Pork Belly and Seared Scallops (£18.50) dish. The crisp top housed the most tender of meat, slow roasted to mouthwatering perfection. Sweet scallops – seared in butter and cooked perfectly – made the dish feel that little bit more special and tasted just delicious. There was only two of them, but they were just lovely.
A side of creamy potato dauphinoise with a crispy cheesy top made the dish even richer with steamed tenderstem broccoli and a tart apple and red wine sauce to cut through the heaviness. Handy tip: a little goes a long way with the sauce. I saved the additional salty crackling until the end which packed an excellent crunch; I do wish there had been more of this.
Not one to make your arteries happy maybe, but certainly your mouth.
Ian’s Rib-eye Steak (£25.95) cooked medium rare went down well, the hefty slab of 28 day aged beef being served with a robust beef dripping sauce and excellent triple cooked chunky chips. He commented on the enormous portion size (15oz to be precise) and the flavour of the beef being excellent, and enjoyed a glass of Finca Andenos (£7.95); a lovely spicy Malbec.
Dessert took shape in the form of the somewhat theatrical Melting Golden Chocolate Bomb (£7.95) served with chocolate popping candy and a hot Devon cream toffee sauce which melts the sweet ball upon pouring to reveal a hidden centre of caramel ice cream.
Having had such a rich main this was probably far a ridiculous pudding to tackle, but we gave it a good go. Generally I’m not really a fan of popping candy (call the fun police) but the dessert offered contrasting tastes and textures, and was very pretty with the additional tiny flowers. It’s also a nice touch that the server pours the hot sauce to melt the bomb in front of you at the table.
This is a friendly place to come and enjoy a hearty dinner (and copious glasses of wine) over the Christmas period. It’s already decked out for the festive season and provided a welcoming, warm environment for a cosy supper. The revamped bar area is also quite lovely with a beautiful fireplace, and there’s a great variety of well made cocktails to try.
A special shout out goes to the excellent staff; most notably the charismatic Beth and knowledgeable Nathan. They had no idea I was a food blogger and showed genuine warmth, personality and remarkable enthusiasm, which we both agreed made the meal. Will be back before Christmas to try the Fizz Brunch offered at weekends.
The White Swan, Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TT
*Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the venue. All views, photos and uncharacteristic festive spirit are very much my own*