The Black Swan in Monxton is under new management. Michael Pasque took over the pub and restaurant known locally as ‘The Mucky Duck’ in late 2014.
We arrived to a warm welcome from Rosie and Ollie, who were behind the bar. I asked to try the Sauvignon Blanc before I chose a glass, which was no trouble at all. The wine was delicious and so I ordered a medium glass and my friend ordered a pint of Tribute.
We took menus and were taken to the restaurant area where we chose a table and were seated. Soon we were joined by the pub’s cat, Ted, who played a little around our feet and then dashed off.
There was a small wait for our order to be taken, mainly because of there being a fair amount of diners that day.
I ordered a starter of the Duck Liver & Ruby Port Pate, roasted plum and black onion seed crackers (£5.75), and my friend chose the Whole Baked Camembert, Roasted Red Pepper, Radicchio and Caraway Crackers (£6.25). We asked for some crusty bread or toast to accompany both dishes.
For the main, I ordered the Black Swan Burger, Montgomery’s cheddar, fries, brioche bun with mustard mayonnaise (£10.50), and my friend ordered the Seared 28-day aged Sirloin, roast garlic butter, fat chips and onion rings (£15.95). The waitress told me that the burger came pink in the middle, and I requested that I would like mine cooked through. She told me this was fine. My friend asked that his steak be cooked Medium Rare.
We also ordered a bowl of onion rings and some fat chips to try.
The dining area was warm and in keeping with the old world style of the central village locations. Wifi is available, fast and easy to connect to.
After a small wait our starters arrived. Wow! What works of art they were. The plates were simply beautiful, with care taken to perfectly present a beautiful pallet of mouthwatering sights.
Starting with the pâté, the crackers were a surprise with homemade towering beauties looking over the pâté below, with the baked plum and plum sauce bringing a flash of colour to the plate. I first of all tried a mouthful of the whole dish; the salty crackers mellowed with the smooth pâté and the slight tartness of the sweet plum. An absolute joy of a starter, delicious, clever and beautiful. The Camembert was accompanied with caraway crackers and radiccio lettuce leaves. Again, this was a very pretty and pleasing-to-the-eye dish; the crackers had a slight aniseed flavour running through them which, accompanied by the creamy Camembert cheese and vibrant red pepper sauce, was a taste of heaven.
The plates were cleared away by the polite staff and we had a small wait for the main course to arrive. Again all beautifully presented and eye catching. The Black Swan Burger was served on a board, with a bowl of skinny fries and homemade mustard mayonnaise on the board itself. The burger was cooked through as promised, despite it being a tower of meat, it had remained tender and juicy. The brioche bun was soft and the burger was topped with a slab of Montgomery cheddar. Served with a homemade relish that was tangy and fresh and spicy rocket salad leaves, this was one of the best burgers I have been served locally.
The steak was served on a plate with big fat chunky chips, onion rings and on-the-vine roasted tomatoes. The steak was cooked perfectly and the garlic butter was delicious, giving just the right amount of moisture to the meal. Despite initially asking for a sauce with the steak, my friend said that a sauce would have ruined what was one of the most superb steaks he had ever been served in a pub/restaurant.
The onion rings had a slight Indian spice flavour to them. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what it was in them, but they were delicious. The big fat chunky chips were crispy outside with fluffy cloud like potato within. The tomato cut through the meal with bursting acidity.
Speaking to landlord/chef Michael, after we had finished our meal, he told us, “It is really important to us that we provide the village with my vision of good food, whilst also maintaining the feeling of a village pub.
“We are sourcing the ingredients locally, and are currently using Greenfield Pork, Pratts Rapeseed Oil and various other local suppliers, meaning that the menu is made up with 90% of ingredients from local suppliers.”
Michael has worked with some of the top chefs in Michelin Starred restaurants. Bringing that experience to Monxton, he has high hopes and big plans for the future.