Tuesday, 15 May 2012

White Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon

This had been refurbished and rejuvenated from a tired olde worlde 80s decor to a rather chic and smart gastro bistro. New bar, new reception entrance and plenty of tables and chairs outside including lining the side passageway which was previously rather a redundant space. The tables and chairs overlooking Rother Street and Wood Street are a sun trap. Admittedly the view is of traffic and shops but it is an excellent spot for people watching. This is a great spot, surprisingly quiet and perfect for a hot day and there is always a slight breeze. Access is easier through the Reception area at the side; if you just want the bar go in through the Rother Street entrance as there is a step down from the bar itself to the seating area. Alternatively, do what I do and dispatch handsome young men to get your refreshments. Indoors there are some magnificent chairs, big, sturdy and throne-like (think RSC History Plays circa 1960s). Some of them are crying out for re-enactments of scenes at the Boar's Head. Bagsy the largest chair by the front window for my showstopping Hal.

The chips are amazing. Crisp to a satisfying crunch, golden and piping hot. Chips of this calibre deserve unrestrained blissful guzzling. The sandwiches were good, served on a wooden platter for a pleasingly artisan feel. Accompanying salad was just leaves but a reasonable side of crisps.  There was no problem when one of us wanted to add cheese to the gammon sandwich - no extra charge was added - and the tomatoes on the gammon were considered by one of us to be generous.  Similarly, when of our number wanted a toasted teacake and the waitress told us they had run out - apparently they have their busiest time between about 10am and 12 when they serve mainly coffees and teacakes - she then went out of her way to try to provide an alternative.

The coffee, it has to be said, is not good. I have been on several occasions to have just a coffee and the standard has been low every time. Served in a glass with a saucer, it is a thin, rather sorry brew. Sometimes overly strong with no foam, sometimes served as half-coffee, half-foam. Service style also varies. It sometimes comes on a tray with a bowl of chunky sugar lumps and milk, sometimes on a tray with just sugar, sometimes no tray, sometimes a biscuit, sometimes two, sometimes none.

Access: *****
Latte: *****

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