It had been about a year since my last visit to The White Swan in Fence, and it was a meal I'd not forgotten. Back then the restaurant was basking in the glory of a recently awarded star in the 2019 Michelin Guide and a year on, it successfully retained that star when the 2020 guide was released.
I was therefore confident of receiving another enjoyable meal, as I visited for lunch on a cold November Saturday with my wife, young daughter and baby son. There's still a reasonably sized car park next to the pub and the exterior hasn't changed since my last visit, the only difference being the Michelin star plaque being proudly displayed by the front door (and why not).
We were warmly welcomed on arrival and without even needing to say my name, taken to our table in one of the dining areas, complete with a highchair already in place for my son as I'd requested when booking (always a good sign). Internally the place is also very much as I remember, a nice tidy pub with pleasant quirks like mismatched chairs on every table. The toilets in truth could probably do with a revamp, maybe that'll come if they get a second star.
On offer at lunch is a pretty rigid two choice per course menu and a tasting menu also, based around many of the same dishes. There's no children's menu but they're happy to adapt any of the ingredients on the menu to make a children's meal. The short menu will naturally be problematic if you're a fussy eater; I did overhear a lady on another table saying "I don't eat fish or most meat"; this perhaps isn't the restaurant for you if you fall into a similar boat.
The wine list is decent and I enjoyed a couple of Burnley Batch G&T's during my meal, as I had during my previous visit, whilst my wife and kids had some perfectly decent apple juice. Lunch began with some tasty little bread rolls, served with a lovely little dollop of chicken liver parfait as well as some top rate butter, all suitably delicious. They also served bread for the kids too which is always a nice touch when dining with the family.
For starters, I opted for the game 'cottage pie'; it was a delicious little bowl of meaty goodness and truffle mash, certainly the best version of a cottage pie I can recall eating (sorry mum). My wife opted for the red mullet and wasn't quite so impressed, but it was still an accomplished plate of food. For my daughter, they were happy to mix a piece of halibut (from one of the main course dishes) with some chips and bring this with the starters. Her fish was cooked to absolute perfection by the way, and she really enjoyed it.
For mains, I had the aforementioned halibut, served with a seaweed dashi, shreds of chicken and mushrooms. It was a lovely fish course, I really enjoyed it and I'd happily eat that dish again anytime. My wife again wasn't quite as blown away with her pheasant main (which is good for me, as it meant I got to try some), but it was still a very tasty plate of food. As on my previous visit, my wife had again said yes to an extra portion of chips, but to be honest the mains here really don't need them, we were suitably stuffed after our first two courses.
Naturally, we still found space for dessert and for me that was a chocolate souffle with a liquid chocolate centre and earl grey ice cream. Impressive though it was (and it didn't even take that long to come out either), I think my wife got the better of the desserts this time as she enjoyed a delicious bowl of vanilla rice pudding with a lemon thyme choc ice. My daughter had the same but the flavours were in truth a little bit too refined for her, however I was very happy to devour most of her dessert, I'll never turn down an extra pudding.
And that as they say, was pretty much that. Overall the food was very good, probably slightly better than my visit last year, and the service was again warm and professional (and child friendly) too. The prices have increased a little again since we were last there, but this was still a good value lunch I'd say considering the standard of the food being served. The restaurant was busy for lunch which was good to see, and it's not difficult to understand why; I'd happily go back at any time and look forward to doing so.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||6|