The Swan is a striking hotel in an equally striking location. Lavenham is a town the likes of which is often thought extinct. It’s the stuff of historic dramas, with unspoilt houses and shops; a slice of Harry Potter was filmed here. It surrounds the visitor with quaint buildings and photo opportunities by the shed-load.
This hotel (read my review of the Swan here) sports cosy, four-poster-bedded rooms, cottage-like public spaces, quiet corners, a bar and a brasserie, but perhaps the jewel in The Swan’s hospitality crown is the celebrated Gallery Restaurant, which is said to be one of the finest restaurants in Suffolk, and I can believe it!
The Gallery offers British fare but with a very Continental standard of fine dining. Tables are linen-set and well-spaced. There is a high timbered ceiling and a minstrel’s gallery, exposed brickwork and fireplace. This restaurant fits so well with the rest of the 15th century hotel.
Suffolk is blessed with coast and pastures offering the freshest bounty of the county. The menu at The Gallery changes with the seasons so there is always an excuse to visit. It’s great value here, too, and it’s not often I can say that about restaurants in London! One could consider a dinner and overnight stay at the Swan and spend only a little more than just a meal in the capital.
Each plate is a picture
Lots of choice and a chance to enjoy British food at its best at The Gallery. We have a cuisine of which to be proud and it’s good to find great chefs who appreciate our culinary heritage. Head Chef Justin Kett showcases this Suffolk fare with skill. Each plate is a picture, and the menu is constructed in such a way as to entice with, perhaps, 5 courses.
We ordered Pumpkin Pappardelle Pasta with seeds, honey and parmesan, along with Brown Crab, as our first courses. The pasta was simple and delicious, but the crab was a dish over which to linger and to savour. Great use of the most flavourful brown meat from the local crab.
We were tempted by meat, and the lamb and beef were both first class. Cooked to pink perfection and beautifully garnished with seasonal veggies, these plates were tapestries of taste and with perfectly balanced flavour and texture. The lamb was outstanding. Any meal here would seem like a celebration.
Old-fashioned comfort food
Desserts were both delicious and imaginative and served with flair. OK, bananas are not local (although with climate change…), but banana cake with candied walnuts and whipped custard was deconstructed old-fashioned comfort food. What a winner! Lemon tart, yoghurt, pistachio and meringue was a tangy and refreshing take on a favourite classic.
The Gallery does indeed have the advantage of memorable architecture but it doesn’t depend upon woodwork for its success. It’s the food and presentation here which will assure many happy returns. To know it is to love it.
Residents’ Breakfast: 7.00am to 10.00am (Monday to Friday),
8.00am – 10.00am (Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays)
Afternoon Tea: 12.00noon to 5.00pm (Monday to Saturday)
Lunch: 12.00noon to 2.30pm (Monday to Friday from 4th July)
Dinner: 7.00pm to 9.30pm
Sunday Lunch: 12.00noon to 2.30pm
Reservations: 01787 247477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gallery Restaurant – The Swan at Lavenham
Suffolk CO10 9QA
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018