Review: The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe, London England

A later-than-expected evening out with some of K’s chatty Irish relatives scuppered our initial plans to do a quick daytrip down to Brighton from London the following day. Alas rocky and pebbly Brighton beach, we shall have to meet another time!

We had to quickly scramble to come up with a new plan for the day – luckily London has a million different things to offer! We kept it simple with a stroll along the Thames, stopping every so often to watch the weekend street performers, kids at the skate park, as well as ducking into galleries and exhibition spaces along the way…a perfect leisurely winter’s day with blue skies above and the sun shining all the while.

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By the time lunchtime rolled around and we started feeling a little bit peckish, we found ourselves outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre so we ducked into the attached Swan London Bar & Restaurant.

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I won’t lie – it is a little bit touristy. During the day, they handle a lot of traffic¬†from tourists doing the Globe Theatre tour, as well those visiting the nearby Tate Modern museum. If you’re dining as a couple or in a smaller group you won’t have any issues getting a table (be prepared to sit at the long communal table though), but make sure you make a booking if you’re with a larger group.

Belvoir lemonade and elderflower, 3.50 GBP each
Belvoir lemonade and elderflower, 3.50 GBP each

What we’ve been finding is that England is particularly good at supporting local producers. They may offer the standard Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite soft drinks on the menu, but most establishments will also offer a locally-made non-alcoholic alternative. In this case, we chose a Belvoir Elderflower drink (very fruity and sweet – tastes a bit like lychee juice) and a Belvoir Organic Lemonade (like a Solo, but not as sweet or fizzy – much more enjoyable as a result!).

For those in Australia interested in trying these drinks, I looked up our local supplier who can be found here. They’re mainly stocked in organic health food stores, or other upmarket grocery stores. I’ll certainly be looking them up when we return!

Roast Daphne's lamb leg with all the trimmings, 17.50 GBP
Roast Daphne’s lamb leg with all the trimmings, 17.50 GBP

We were there on a Sunday so naturally we had to order off their Roasts menu. I ordered the Roast Lamb Leg – and of course, all roasts are served with ‘all the trimmings’.

In this case, it includes a creamy cauliflower bake, roast potatoes, roast carrots, steamed kale, a massive Yorkshire pudding, and a little pitcher of gravy. I found the cauliflower bake a bit bland, but everything else was vastly improved with a liberal dash of rich gravy Рlamb included which was roasted a bit more than I would normally like as it lacked the pink tinge that a good roast lamb leg should always have.

Roast Old Hall Farm pork belly with all the trimmings, 16.50 GBP
Roast Old Hall Farm pork belly with all the trimmings, 16.50 GBP

K’s choice of the roast pork loin wasn’t available, but the restaurant was able to sub in a Roast Pork Belly with all the trimmings. This was a little bit disappointing to be honest, with the crunchy crackling the only redeeming element. Everything else was overly dry and overcooked, losing the tender fattiness that should characterise good pork belly.

We walked out of the Swan a little bit disappointed by the quality of the roast meat – it’s not roasts the way we do them at home with lamb left a little bit rare and pork belly left dripping with fat. Roasts at the Swan are truly roasted right through, following British meat cooking techniques of twenty years ago – they haven’t modernised for modern palates yet. Improvements are needed – unless of course, you want overcooked meat the way your own old English granny used to cook it!

The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe is located at 21 New Globe Walk in Bankside, London.

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