Restaurant review: The Loddon Swan

Lemon sole (photo: Steve Adams)

Lemon sole (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

It was third time lucky for dinner at the Swan in Loddon

Exteriors at the Swan, Loddon (photo: Steve Adams)

Exteriors at the Swan, Loddon (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

Timing is everything. We’d wanted to visit the Swan at Loddon for months, having heard good reports, but last time we booked the Beast from the East roared in and scuppered our plans.

So we booked again. Mrs C was upended by the dog and dislocated a finger. Some months passed and we booked again.

This time Mrs C took a header out of the back door and somehow managed to break her leg. It wasn’t looking good.

Inside at the Swan, Loddon (photo: Steve Adams)

Inside at the Swan, Loddon (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

But, unlike the swan, she is a game bird and so a couple of days after being plastered up we eased her carefully into the car and set off for Loddon. At no point was I motivated by a desire not to have to cook, I might add.

The Swan is a handsome old 18th century coaching inn which has prospered with recent investments in the dining and accommodation areas and on a warm summer Saturday evening it had a happy buzz.

Of necessity we dined in the bar – there are two other dining rooms – and set to an examination of the menu. Head chef Jason Wright, a finalist at the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards last year, likes to get hold of a classic and update it, using local ingredients, of course.

Lemon mousse (photo: Steve Adams)

Lemon mousse (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

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Being greedy, I have a soft, slightly melted, spot for a hunk of warm cheese and so the herb-crusted Baron Bigod and red onion jam looked a winner. Mrs C, fond of cheese with a bit of muscle, picked the Binham Blue beignets with pickles and burnt apple puree.

The Bigod was a trencherman’s wedge of gooey goodness; warming it really freed the flavours of this raw milk Suffolk brie and the sharp onion pickle cut through with a nice acid zing. The beignets were equally good on flavour – a couple more would have been nice – and the accompaniments were done well.

Lemon sole appears on menus infrequently enough to be a bit of a treat for me and, assured by the lovely staff that it was fresh enough to have been flapping around only hours previously, I ordered it. It was a pescatorial pleasure.

Pea and mint risotto (photo: Steve Adams)

Pea and mint risotto (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

Sole can be a little thin; this was a full-fat fish, plump, juicy and cooked simply but expertly and was quite delicious. Reviewers will say that something ‘tasted of the sea’ as code for being over-seasoned, but this was bang on the money. The vegetables with it were on point too, properly done but leaving the sole to be the star of the plate.

Herself’s pea, broad bean and mint risotto was a fine example of the breed, delightful fresh flavours and creaminess combined. There is not a great deal more to say about a risotto, to be honest, but it delivered what it was asked to.

A decent interval was allowed before the dessert options were reviewed. Mrs C’s choice of the milk chocolate and hazelnut ganache with vanilla and cherry ice-cream was a very wise one and the slab of ganache extremely generous. Milk chocolate puds can lack the cocoa punch of darker choices but this was good on flavour, well-made and with a fine texture.

Herb-crusted Baron Bigod (photo: Steve Adams)

Herb-crusted Baron Bigod (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

Still feeling full from the big bit of Baron Bigod I’d eaten, the lemon mousse with pistachio crumble appealed as a lighter way to end the day’s play. It was certainly light and fresh-flavoured, if a little less mousse-y than one might have expected, probably on account of

the heatwave.

So third time lucky, we thought, as we headed off into the balmy evening. Well, lucky for some, anyway, I thought as I watched Mrs C hopping along on her crutches…

Binham Blue beignets (photo: Steve Adams)

Binham Blue beignets (photo: Steve Adams) - Credit: Archant

Our review visits are unannounced and we pay for our own meals.

From the menu

Dinner for two, including drinks, came to £71. Starters are from £6.50, main courses from £12.95 and dessert from £7.25

Church Plain, Loddon, NR14 6LX. 01508 528039