Not only a new wine list, but a whole new look.
The Swan Hotel, in the centre of Arundel, has recently undergone an extensive programme of renovation, inside and out.
Dating back to 1759, The Swan was originally a coaching inn, with stabling for horses and places for coaches at the rear. The Georgian building itself has remained relatively the same in proportions as at the end of the 18th century, but now boasts a range of 14 cosy, modern, bedrooms, together with a characterful restaurant.
Still owned by the Fullers brewery, the Swan has kept its pub side, which is very popular with visitors and Arundel residents alike.
“We wanted to keep the traditional pub feel, while creating a modern, vibrant atmosphere similar to some pubs in the capital,” explained the general manager, Beatha Slapikaite, who is originally from Lithuania.
“At the same time, we have upgraded our restaurant, engaged a great new kitchen brigade and can now offer both residents and travellers a modern, relaxing and satisfying leisure and dining experience.”
All this naturally needs to be complemented by a fine wine list. However, the Swan Hotel has never been an ordinary ale house, and the 1903 Kimpton’s Guide to Arundel praised its ‘Wines and Spirits of superior quality’. With the backing of Fullers, this is continued to this day, under the watchful eye of the efficient and welcoming general manager, Beatha.
The carefully chosen wine list has kept some long term favourites, such as the red Le Versant Pinot Noir from Southern France and the house white Colombard/Sauvignon from Domaine Perhus in Gascony.
But it also offers some more unusual wines, such as a Pinot Gris from Argentina and an Albariño from the Rias Baixas region of North-west Spain. Then there are some fabulous classics such as a top Chablis from l’Orangerie du Chateau, and one of my favourite reds, Amarone Classico from the Valpolicella region of North Italy.
This great wine collection is perfect to choose the right wine to match the new range of dishes flowing from the kitchen. Recently, I had the opportunity to put this to the test and chose the Albariño to accompany a fishy menu. This seemed appropriate, since in bygone days, right up until the early 1900s, Arundel was a sea port of some importance, and fresh local fish featured high on the agenda. The seared scallops with black pudding, apple and pea shoots was a delicious, well-balanced starter, followed by gently spiced cod on a cauliflower purée and mango salsa. The dry crisp white wine from the coastal area of Northern Spain paired magnificently with the salty and fruity components of the dishes.
The Swan Hotel features as one of the restaurants in this year’s Arundel Festival Restaurant Trail, run by the Arundel Wine Society, serving a superb dish of pan-fried duck breast. If you are lucky enough to have acquired a ticket, you will be able to experience the new-look restaurant. If not, book a table next time you are in the town of Arundel.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
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