REVIEW: The Swan Inn at Claygate
- Credit: Archant
A year after acclaimed Spanish chef José Pizarro took over The Swan Inn at Claygate, his food and family cooking values are still going down a treat. And now you can spend the night. Rebecca Younger checks it out
This article was published before lockdown. Please check all information before making your visit.
The Spanish are renowned for their hospitality, which is perhaps one of the reasons José Pizarro’s takeover at The Swan Inn has gone down so well with the locals since it opened exactly a year ago this month.
Yes, the food here is good, if not outstanding, but there’s something about the way José and his team greet their clientele – local or not – that makes this village pub, situated opposite a leafy green in Claygate, extra special.
While José has three other restaurants in London – José Tapas Bar, Pizarro Bermondsey, and José Pizarro Broadgate – it is here that his family cooking values can really come into their own.
“Family is the most important thing and that is why this remains very much a local’s pub,” he says.
“There are people who will come here every day for a drink and snack after work or a coffee during the day. If you look after the community, the community will look after you.”
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The launch of six en suite bedrooms, situated in a character barn conversion at the back of the pub, at the end of last year has enabled this warm hospitality to be extended to overnight guests.
The rooms are simple yet stylishly fitted; Tracey Emin Artwork adorns the walls, while Spanish tiles in the bathroom give a nod to José’s heritage.
“It means people can come and have a nice meal and a drink and not have to worry about getting home. People from London, Surrey if they are a bit further out and a lot of locals have their family stay here. And me! It means I can stay here when I’m working.”
Because José isn’t just a chef who puts his name to a place and then leaves it to everyone else to do the work.
At least once a week he gets stuck in at The Swan kitchen and, from time to time, also entices chef and foodie friends out of London to cook with him for guest nights at the pub (Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown is next on the list).
“How could you not love working here? One of my favourite things is being in the kitchen and looking out over the view of the green, it’s wonderful,” he enthuses.
While the pub maintains a typical pub feel, the food offers José’s taste of Spain using the best Spanish ingredients alongside produce sourced from local farmers and producers.
Signature tapas dishes include daily changing Croquetas (ours were Manchego and spinach-filled), acorn fed 5J Jamón Ibérico and anchovies with Jose’s own olive oil.
And then of course there’s the wine – José works with vineyards in his homeland to produce his branded line of Cava, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sherry, which can make for a rather boozy evening should you choose to sample them all – now there’s another reason to book a room!
There’s also a private dining room, if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
But there are other reasons to book a night at The Swan. The pub is just a few minutes from Esher, where you’ll find Sandown Park racecourse if you fancy a flutter and the National Trust’s Claremont Landscape Garden for a morning constitutional to blow away the cobwebs.
Hampton Court Palace is also just three miles down the road, Brooklands Museum six miles away and RHS Garden Wisley nine miles away, so you might as well go ahead and make a whole weekend of it!
Rooms at The Swan Inn start from £95 per night and include breakfast served in the pub the following morning.