Mr Mammy and I were lucky enough to attend the preview evening at the newly opened Swan Hotel Smoke and Taphouse in Ironbridge. Anybody who has been there previously will know that The Swan is the sister pub of The Aston Taphouse in Newport, specialising in traditional dishes and steaks. The Swan has recently undergone a gentle revamp and rebrand, still serving good traditional pub dishes, but now specialising in the low, slow smoking of meats that has become so popular of late.The staff at The Swan are warm and welcoming, offering us a choice of tables as the one we had booked was a little close to the live music on during the evening (excellent music btw, just a little too loud to make conversation possible).
We were given plenty of time to peruse the new menu, which contains 8 starters, several of which offer various tweaks (cheesy, chilli topped nachos with an extra helping of pulled pork anyone??? yum!), 8 "Taphouse Classic" dishes such as fish n chips or sausages and mash, 3 dishes "from the grill", and a full side of A3 which lists many, many treats from the smoker, offering trays of meaty delights, Beasty Burgers, Dirty Dogs and Saucy Sandwiches, so plenty of time, and much flipping of coins, is needed to finally choose just one starter and one main each!
Mr Mammy decided to start his meal with a helping of the beef brisket fully loaded potato skins, topped with sour cream. Three generously sized, scooped out potato halves arrived, loaded with tender, expertly cooked and sliced brisket and put to bed under a blanket of melty cheese and sour cream arrived, and disappeared within seconds, which is always a sure sign Mr M likes a dish (more on this in later posts!).
My starter of smoked chicken wings in Buffalo sauce with the homemade blue cheese dip was just as delicious. Five large wings the colour of a TOWIE star (good thing!) arrived in a metal army-style mess tin, with a generous portion of blue cheese fire extinguisher, sorry, dip. Now, usually when I order the buffalo wings I have to be terribly brave and pretend that the soles of my feet aren't sweating from the spice, but the wings at the Swan are a perfect mix of taste and spice, not too hot, not too mild, the spice builds the more you eat, but it doesn't become unbearable. The blue cheese dip was almost redundant, but added a lovely, creamy, slightly luxurious note to the dish. An excellent start to the night!
Mains were buttermilk spicy coated chicken breast burger, topped with monterey jack cheese, sticky smoked shredded chicken and baby gem lettuce and the Pitmaster BBQ Tray, consisting of a baby rack of ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, a quarter chicken, pit beans, and corn on the cob, both served with seasoned fries and house slaw.
Feedback on the burger came to me through a mouth full of food, but I think Mr M declared it tasty, with a good level of spice and a generous amount of shredded chicken (which looked chopped instead of shredded, but I'm really splitting hairs here). Crispy fries and a good blob of the homemade Apple BBQ sauce completed the dish which, again, lasted barely a few minutes.
The Pitmaster BBQ Tray was a thing of beauty, more melty brisket to dip in the homemade Chipotle BBQ sauce, a juicy and tender quarter chicken, the biggest baby rack of ribs I have seen in a long time, pulled pork which was tender and perfectly seasoned, which was really taken to the next level with the Apple BBQ sauce alongside fresh and crunchy coleslaw and crispy, fluffy, salty fries. The sweetcorn was slightly overkill, a much smaller portion would have been better proportioned to the meal, but all in all a real treat for any BBQ lover, I was just sorry it defeated me and I couldn't finish it! This meal was really enough for two people with a couple of extra sides (mac n cheese perhaps? maybe next time!) but I gave it my best go!
Offers to see the dessert menu were met with a hearty "No!" as we were both stuffed (which I now regret), and after paying the £60 bill, which included two large glasses of Pinot Grig, a pint of Wainwrights and a pint of Coke, we rolled down the Wharfage very happy and very full people...It is worth mentioning that the Swan are running a loyalty card scheme, where buying 8 meals will earn you one free, and the same offer applies to pints from the bar, so being a regular patron will soon pay off! I'm planning our next trip already......
Love Mammy x