Where: The Swan at The Globe, The South Bank
With whom: Nicco Polo and Bet Lynch
How much?: £40 a head (with a cheeky staff discount) so nearer £60, fair enough for three courses from the a la carte, wine and cocktails
For the last year or so they've also been blessed with the Swan. A lovely little bar and brasserie adjoining the theatre 'directed' by ex Ramsay cohort Mark Sargeant, there's a sense of real purpose about the menu. They shout loud and proud about their reliance on foragers, farmers and local markets (they are just up the road from Borough Market after all) and the menu reflects this seasonality. Sadly that season has just passed. On a gorgeous spring night it's a shame that most of the food on offer has a distinctly wintery note. Don't get me wrong, I love the sound of the Cashel Blue macaroni cheese and spiced Elizabethan mutton casserole is just what you'd expect to eat before outdoor Shakespeare, but not when the weather outside is so warm.
I went for the one seasonal starter.
Trimmed asparagus with hollandaise. Sometimes kitchens have to realise that you don't mess with perfection and that was certainly the case. Cooked for a couple of minutes, lightly drizzled with a zingy sauce, it was heaven. Nicco Polo was slightly less lucky. His scallop and spring onion gratin was average at best, with an excess of herbed breadcrumbs and a strong gratin sauce overwhelming the more delicate scallops.
The confit pork belly was a big homely portion. Again, not necessarily suited to a spring night, but I'm a big fan of the pig and won't let a little thing like seasonality get in my way. The large slab came with a sweet honey and dill glazed crackling, sweetly tender fat and a creamy, mustardy celeriac remoulade that set it off perfectly
Finishing off with the summer pudding, I was struck by just how conducive the restaurant was to having a good time. It was so friendly and comfortable with some excellent food, that and the very central location mean I'll certainly be coming back. For a very reasonable price, we had three strong courses, an aperitif and a Chilean Pinot Noir from a tasty little list that struggled to top £40 a bottle. Looking out at the tourists crossing the Millennium Bridge as the light gradually faded behind St Paul's dome we wondered how many of them would look up and check out the Swan, or given the sad state of occupancy would they all end up flooding into the overpriced 'ye olde pubbe' or one of the chain restaurants that infest the area. More fool them if they do.