REVIEW: Friday night is steak night
For orchestral fans, the world’s longest-running live radio programme proudly proclaims: Friday Night is Music Night.
But in Fittleworth, the last evening of the working week offers something much more delicious.
At the historic Swan, Friday night is steak night – and for red meat lovers, the dishes come no more tender, tantalizing or tempting as these.
The sirloin, rib-eyes, and rumps melt in the mouth oozing texture and flavour – with a peppercorn, mushroom and garlic, or red wine sauce, for added piquancy.
What adds to the culinary magic, is they are all sourced locally – from Loxwood and Henfield – and served in traditional style with a Portobello mushroom, French fried onions and fries.
For those whose tastes run to a different meat, gammon, lamb leg and pork loin, steaks are also on offer.
They represent fabulous value with prices ranging from £9.95 for the rump to £15,95 for the rib-eye.
Being The Swan, of course, it’s not just the food that makes this a great Friday night escape.
The setting and the service are always impeccable.
The pub exudes period charm while its waiting staff could not be more attentive.
We have always been served by the indefatigable Douggie, who is to this great inn what what the sublime Jeeves is to Bertie Wooster.
Douggie, who has a maturity which belies his youthful years, simply shimmers into the room. Nothing is too much trouble. He always remembers you.
His colleagues make you equally welcome.
Young Will was also on duty – a man home from university who is clearly destined for greatness.
No doubt, the good humour and infinite conscientiousness of the staff owes everything to the Wyman family who have run The Swan for the past two years and three months.
Insiders tell me they could not be kinder employers.
Under their stewardship, the inn has blossomed both as a traditional pub and a place to eat a fine meal.
It has also excelled as an hotel where the 14 ensuite bedrooms have been entirely refurbished and are now in huge demand.
Anthony Wyman who is partner in the business with his son Charlie, confided over a pint of their finest that the secret of their dining success is being
‘fussy about what we sell, where we source it.’
“We have an excellent team of chefs. We have head chef Chris Moody. Dale Henderson is his number 2. Tofail from Bangladesh produces excellent curries.”
The other star behind the scenes is their very dedicated housekeeper, Tina Turner.
Of course, The Swan is more than steak nights on a Friday.
Its menu is always a wonderful mix of the traditional and the innovative.
There are a lovely selection of starters, desserts, and pub classics. Wednesday is Fish Night – something I have not sampled but which comes with the promise of fish pie, or fruits de mer, and lobster.
When the weather is brimming with heat and light on a Sunday, there is also a barbecue on offer in the stunning oasis of a beer garden tucked right away behind the rambling building.
It’s exactly what a village pub should be – and its future could not be more assured than in warm and loving hands of the Wymans.
The tradition of hospitality at The Swan has endured for more than 600 years since it was built in 1382.
Edward Elgar, Rudyard Kipling and Lady Hamilton have all stayed at the Swan.
In the 19th century it was one of three hostelries in Britain that welcomed some of the finest artists of the age – who paid for their lodgings with samples of their works.
A collection of their paintings – which includes one by Constable’s brother – can still be seen in the bar and a number of the bedrooms such as Cole, Stretton, Watson, Litchfield, and Weeden are named after them.
In 1924 the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers – whose motto was ‘Lubrication in Moderation’ – was founded here.
The guild was created to ‘to foster the noble art and gentle and healthy pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of-leisure and ex-Soldiers’ and it attracted half a million members. Its friends still visit the Swan each year.
E.V. Lucas, Lamb’s biographer, thought it the most ingeniously-placed inn in the world. “It seems to be at the end of all things. The miles of road that one has travelled apparently have been leading nowhere but the Swan.”
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