Olwynne Goodrich

A Recipe for Success at The Swan

by Olwynne Goodrich At Thyme 1 Mar 16

Our Award Winning Restaurant

The Cotswolds are a storyteller’s dream, our corner of Gloucestershire keeps our Instagram feed brimming with delectable images of honeyed Cotswold stone, quintessentially English vistas and warm hearths to sit beside on weekends away from the city.  Since launching as a hotel in September we have watched a new audience applaud the peace and tranquillity we offer and central to that experience is our 17th century pub & restaurant, The Swan.  An understated jewel in the crown of Cotswold eateries and its subtleties enable it to shine without apology beside its fawned-upon neighbours in Kingham, Cheltenham and Chipping Norton.

A hidden gem, yes. One of those secret places that only a select few have found, possibly. However, the foodie fraternity are taking notice, described as ‘the best food outside London’ by Spears Wealth Magazine, the roll-call of celebrity diners, restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers and Instagram-famous  doesn’t change the fabric of what The Swan offers.  There is a recipe to success and that is quite simply that we really want to welcome guests to The Swan to eat, drink and be merry. That recipe sounds simple:

Take sustainability as the foundation
Sustainability – it is a buzz word and like so many food trends there is a tendency to overuse it in the press, phrases like ‘field to fork’ and ‘seed to plate’ are sprinkled through websites like over-enthusiastic garnishing.  But this is not a 'matcha-tea-chia-seed-flash-in-the-pan', it is a quiet revolution – discerning customers want to know where the produce on their plate has come from.  At The Swan we can tell you that even with the temperamental flow of English seasonality we source our fresh ingredients from our own kitchen garden, our lamb and pork from our own farm, every egg is laid by our hens, geese and quail ... only a five minute walk from your table.  Home-made is the mantra, we make our own bread, cakes, pastry, pasta using locally milled flour – if we can source it locally we will.  We have been cooking like this for seven years and we know it works, the results aren’t ‘worthy’, they are tried and tested.

Sustainable principals does not a menu make
Sustainability starts with a conversation, one between gardeners, producers, chefs and the staff that deliver service. Thyme’s founder Caryn Hibbert, Culinary Director Daryll Taylor and The Swan’s Head Chef Matt Wardman are the triumvirate behind the menus at The Swan, Italianate influence is discernible, with a quirky twist accented with touches from across the globe, but always referencing the garden. You might find some ingredients that are new to you, palla rossa or yakon sitting comfortably beside salt-baked celeriac and parsley root.  But this isn’t a menu that intimidates, it is intriguing - embrace it, enjoy it, ask the staff – they want to share their knowledge of what we grow and why.  Of course, the why of it is simple – it is delicious, it wouldn’t be on the menu if it wasn’t.

A restaurant is more than its menu
The Swan will seduce you with its calm interior, a muted palette of simple colours, intimate and welcoming by day or night, fires lit in winter, gorgeous courtyard seating for the warmer months.  But the most delicious menus and the most thoughtful design ideas do not make a perfect guest experience if the welcome and the staff don’t fit, if they don’t understand what they are delivering.  We do, the serving staff are young and bright, the gently spoken management team who work with a relaxed and calm style between The Swan and Thyme under the watchful eye of General Manager Dominic Abbott and The Swan Manager Briony Smith, understand hospitality; and the kitchen team are the sound-track, harmonious with the usual banter that carries the best staff through high pressure service.

The industry we work in is obsessed with Michelin stars and AA rosettes, all we are concerned about is ‘hearts’, it is the love you can feel when you eat a meal prepared by inspired chefs who are passionate about what they do, delivered by staff who love where they work and understand how to deliver it, in an environment that is quite simply, lovely.  It makes The Swan at Southrop a very special destination for Thyme guests, locals and those that seek us out as a destination that promises the very best that the Cotswolds can offer.

Dining at our award-winning restaurant at The Swan at Southrop