To put it simply, the White Swan at Fence is a local pub that serves food, real ales and fine wines – and nothing more, according to the owners. Yet to the keen observer, this is a statement that reeks of modesty. The Highest New Entry of 2018 partnered by Bibendum launched into the list at an impressive 19 before rising 10 spots to ninth in 2020.
The pub is backed by brewer Timothy Taylor’s, those clever chaps behind the likes of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord ale, and fronted by fantastic foursome Gareth, Laura, Liv and a mischievous genius Tom Parker in the kitchen.
Wit surrounds an elegant menu and interior at the White Swan, which is apparent from the pub’s website that describes chef Parker thus: “This is Tom. Among other things, Tom is very good at chopping chives. Tom cooks your food. Be like Tom.”
Tom’s skills at chopping chives are also extended further into the kitchen and it’s clear he devotes all his attention and energies towards curating a handsome and clever menu at the Michelin-starred pub, which has been maintained for another year.
We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Parker on several occasions and can confirm he is a bundle of energy and foodie intellect.
He was 2019’s Great British Pub Awards Chef of the Year, having won a rigorous cook-off sponsored by Booker/Makro.
There are also plans in the pipeline to give the pub a facelift and, hopefully, see some extensions to allow more customers the chance to sample the delicious cuisine that awaits inside.
We’ve been the to the gastropub several times and fell in love with dishes including the tomato consommé with gnocchi – a supercharged bowl of savoury summer goodness.
Though the White Swan will never be able to say exactly what is on its menu until you arrive, previous dishes have included: lobster soup, salmon, fennel and tarragon; Whitewell partridge, roast celeriac, smoked bacon and onion; and Valrhona chocolate soufflé in a hot chocolate sauce.
How much will a three-course meal like that set me back, we hear you ask? Be prepared for a pleasant shock.
Two courses have cost £30 and three £40 (not including a rare additional charge for some more expensive courses, of course).
Also, keep a look out for special menus served throughout the year, with previous ones including a sell-out Japanese-themed night.