Having lost a tiny bit of weight since Christmas, and with my waistband actually fasten-able I decided it was time for an outing. The Swan at Hoxne had been recommended to me for its excellent food using locally supplied ingredients, so I arranged to meet an old friend there to catch up on the news. As usual I was far too early, but this gave me a chance to look around the garden area. It being the middle of winter, this was not at its best, but with bench seats and tables; a ‘willow grows aslant a brook’* for children to clamber about on, and the brook itself, I could quite see how delightful it would be in the height of summer. I did see squirrels and pair of muntjac deer frolicking about.
Inside the building a warm friendly greeting was provided by the biggest log fire I have ever seen, exuding the warm aroma of scorching wood. We seated ourselves at a scrubbed pine table that was immaculately clean and marvelled at the beams, low ceilings, and pamment floors. The Swan is Grade II listed and was built back by the Bishop of Norwich in 1480. Disabled access looked possible, but there were no special provisions that I could see. A waitress brought us a selection of menus and drew our attention to the specials board on the wall. There are snack-lunch menus, set-lunch menus and á la carte lunch menus – and specials - to such an extent that we deviated without realising it from the set lunch at £8.50 for two courses (£10 for three).
My friend particularly wanted fish, and so once we had enquired what Blanchbait was, she plumped for that – with chips and garnish. I strayed from my usual ‘safe’ option and had Chicken with olives and tagliatelle. The food is freshly cooked so we had to allow a little more time than usual for this to be done. But mine was truly fabulous despite the fact that I am not a fan of olives, so arranged them around the side of the plate (Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor – I think I ended up with the beggar man!) the chicken was plentiful and coated with a delicious sweet sticky tomato sauce, with other roasted vegetables. Both our plates contained generous servings and as my friend’s fish hung over each end of the plate, she asked me to help her finish it – and gave me a chip or two. For pudding I ordered a chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream, and my friend – who declared she was so stuffed that she couldn’t eat another thing – then proceeded to help me finish it. Neither of us actually ate the Physalis, (cape gooseberry) berry -, a plant of the nightshade family - but it added a note of sophistication to this otherwise childishly yummy, warm, soft, meltingly delicious, crisp on top, desert-to-die-for.
I had a cup of coffee to follow and Earl Grey tea was unexpectedly available for my friend who - despite her stuffed status - managed to consume the cube of creamy fudge that came with it. I found mine at bedtime in my handbag, and was just about ready for it having eaten nothing since lunch. Fabulous! Would I go again? Despite the fact that it is a bit of a hike from home, yes I would, in summer to sit in the garden.
Chicken £12.50 Fish £10.50 Brownie £5.25 tea £1.50 coffee £3 bar drinks £4.50 total £37.25
cape gooseberry does not require a capital C.
Hoxne Swan, Low Street Hoxne, Eye, Suffolk IP21 5AS 01379 668275 http://www.hoxneswan.co.uk/
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