The Swan Inn, Denham
I nearly ate at The Swan Inn in Denham last year. I’d pulled up outside, thought, ‘Ooh, this looks great’ and then something at the back of my mind made me double check my destination – at which point I realised I was supposed to be in Cookham. In Berkshire.
Even as I cussed and panicked and stabbed at my satnav, I do remember how utterly gorgeous the old Denham village was, and memory has served me right because I made it back a few weeks back and look at it – what a dream.
Denham, if you don’t know, is south Bucks, close to Gerrard’s Cross and Chalfont St Peter, so it’s in a lovely leafy, picturesque bit of the county, or if you’re too far away for a day trip in its own right, the sort of place that you could use for lunch from a trip in or out of London (the M25 is just a few miles away) . It’s very well-heeled, and the old part of the village is largely one winding unchanged-for-centuries road, with a church and golf course at the end. And about halfway down, The Swan pub, a fantastic, friendly local with very good food.
‘Local’ pub gets bandied about a lot these days, but with The Swan Inn it’s very clear that it’s a massively popular institution in the village. Its had the same landlord, the very charming and jovial Mark, for years, and when the pub changed ownership, Mark (who was staying on) had to put letters into the residents’ houses to allay their fears that the pub was going to somehow change. In fact, the only visible alteratatio is that the bar has been a spruced up bar and a lick of paint, otherwise it’s just as it was before… lovely.
Inside the pub is attractive in that tasteful wooden table/heritage paintish way inside
… and a tidy courtyard area for sunny days.
And the food? The food, I’m happy to report, is excellent. Interesting daily menu, beautifully presented, and service was friendly without being OTT.
I started with a grilled fillet of mackerel, with chorizo, chickpeas and coriander (£7.50) – every bit as fab as it sounds and looks.
For mains I acted on a tip I’d been given a tip by one of the owners of Heidi & Hudson fashion boutique in Gerrard’s Cross/Amersham. He’d worked in The Swan Inn as a teenager and told me I had to try the bubble and squeak. I did, and it was superb – with oak cured bacon, free range poached egg and hollandaise sauce. This was the entrée version and it was waaaaaay big enough.
By the time I’d had two courses it was going to gone of two ways. Either I was so full of self-loathing that I’d order a double espresso and promise never be such a pig again. Or I’d scan the dessert menu for the most indulgent thing I could find and ….. yup, there was a spongey pud. No competition.
After lunch I lurched down the road, trying to walk off a fraction of the calories I’d just attached to the Muddy gut. I made it to the 14th century church…
… which finds itself, happily, next to a golf course with a public right of way. I’m sure there are millions of jokes about golf courses being close to heaven but I’ll leave them to those of you who wear plaid trousers in your spare time. The main thing to report is that you can actually have a lovely shortish walk either before or after lunch and loop around back to the pub. Amen to that.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Relaxed gatherings for families or friends. Unpretentious foodies looking for a good value lunch in pretty surroundings. Anyone looking for a proper buzzy, friendly local. I’ll definitely be back with the kids.
Not for: Those with large prams or fractious kids might struggle inside on wet day – it’s not pokey by any stretch but it’s ‘normal’ pub size with tables relatively close together. The courtyard is functional rather than beautiful, so if you’re looking for expansive views and cows mooing in the countryside, it’s not for you.
£££: Reasonable – and for the standard of food, positively a steal. £5-8 entrées, £11-25 mains (with most sitting around £14-16), desserts £5-7ish.
The Swan Inn, Village Rd, Denham, Buckinghamshire UB9 5BH
01895 832085. swaninndenham.co.uk