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The superb Swan restaurant, Tetsworth

swan tetsworth ext

When I first moved up this way from London in the early Noughties, I ate at The Swan in Tetsworth restaurant quite a bit. Then it went off the boil, closed altogether, opened up for lunches, couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be, to whom, when, and that was it, I went off it altogether.

Over the last year the whisperings have been getting louder that The Swan is on the up again, and my interest was re-piqued. So the other week I gave it another go, and it’s every bit as good as I prayed it would be. Actually it’s better. I went in hoping for a good meal and service, and I came out raving about the whole experience. So did Mr Muddy, who decided that his next escape into male-only company – not as lascivious as it sounds (I hope) – must be at this relaxed but cool space.

Shall we start with some bubbles?

Shall we start with some bubbles?

The main ingredient to The Swan’s renewed success, in my opinion, is owner Antoin, below right  – proudly French, exuberantly passionate about food and excited to get you to try loads of things. So yes, a great salesman too. Charming and charismatic without slipping into slimy or fawning, it reminded me how a brilliant maitre ‘d can make or break a business in this area, how rare truly stand-out service can be.


Secondly, I love the interior of the restaurant, with its high ceilings, shuttered windows, mix of faded French glamour and more rustic touches. In the day I imagine it’s light and fresh; on an evening with the candles it’s atmospheric and cosy.

interior_Fotor interior with chalkboard

Lastly and by no means least, the food is excellent. I had the cassolette de la mer with a saffron Normandy sauce (£14), followed by this cheeky magret de canard with honey and Dauphinois potatoes. It’s the second time recently I’ve been served food on a glass plate that feels strangely like you’re eating off the table and I’m kind of enthralled and appalled at the same time! I think all things taken into consideration, I’m a porcelein plate kind of gal. The duck was delicious though, succulent, rich but not cloying, with those creamy potatoes that make my jodpur thighs worthwhile.

cheeseboard  main course_Fotor
Dessert was a pongy French cheeseboard that had Mr Muddy in paroxyms of ecstasy. What can I say, he’s a sucker for the mould.


Toilets are basic if you care about such details but do offer a look at the private dining area, below. I think I’d feel a bit squeezed in this little ante space – close to the toilets its a bit like being served in a cloakroom –  but it does provide an excellent view of a chandelier from the loo so let’s appreciate that!

Loo with a view - the private dining area

Loo with a view – the private dining area

It goes without saying that with the antiques market just next door, The Swan is a total no-brainer for lunch, and though it’s not remotely child-driven as a restaurant – it really is a more of an adult treat – I’m sure well behaved kids would be welcome if you need to drag them along with you. We’ve all done it!

The toilet shot - yeah, let's bring back this bad girl!

The toilet shot – yeah, let’s bring back this bad girl!


Good for: French food lovers wanting the real deal; foodies in general; anyone after a restaurant with genuine atmosphere; romantics on an evening; larger groups particularly will enjoy the ambience and can stretch into the space offered.

Not for: Those expecting glorious outdoor space in summer. There is a small courtyard but you’re in Tetsworth and the motorway noise is a humming constant – you’ll want to stay indoors. It’s not aimed at kids – if you’re expecting crayons and colouring books, go elsewhere.

£££: On the expensive side of average – it’s treat territory, but what a treat! Entrees between £8-15, mains £18-29.

The Swan at Tetsworth 5 Upper High St, Tetsworth, Oxford OX9 7AB. Tel: 01844 281182. Website


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