The Swan Inn, Lympstone has been at the hub of the local community for years. It offers a cosy interior complete with exposed oak beams and fireplaces that are perfect to snuggle up next to whilst sheltering from the inclement Devonshire weather in winter. In the summer it has one of the busiest beer gardens known to man.
Recently taken over by David Foa and Paul Craven of River Exe Cafe fame, this popular inn has undergone a bit of a relaunch. Their aim is to retain the character and charm that the Lympstone locals love as well as enticing the walkers, cyclists and people like me who like to explore our beautiful county.
For those who don’t know Lympstone, it’s a small village of nearly 2000 people situated midway on the popular Avocet railway line between Exeter and Exmouth. Many of the houses back straight on to the River Exe estuary and it has a fishing village vibe reminiscent of many Cornish towns and villages I have visited and loved. The village centre is well catered for with a small shop, two pubs, a cafe and a hairdressers. You can even pick up homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys from a stall outside one of the houses opposite The Swan Inn and pop the money through the letterbox. I have to admit I pick up jams and marmalade’s every time I visit Lympstone with this visit being no exception. May I recommend the marmalade; it’s very good!
I visited with my friend Angel last Saturday for a late lunch. We were greeted by a lovely lady who took us to our table. We were seated in the restaurant to the left as you walk in. The main bar is to the right. Our booking was for 2.30pm and even at this late hour, the restaurant seemed busy.
The restaurant area is decorated in a traditional pub style. Dark wood panelling on the walls to compliment the tables and chairs to create a lovely warm cosy feel. I asked our waitress if many changes had occurred after the takeover and she responded explaining they had wanted to keep The Swan Inn as it has always been. A cosy pub for locals and visitors alike. Of course, a few changes have been made but nothing too drastic. A lick of paint here and there, a few new tables and chairs plus the introduction of some beautiful potted plants. As the saying goes “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
Drink orders placed from the extensive wine list we took our time to peruse the menu. Wow! What a menu. If you are a seafood lover like myself then you are in for a treat. I must have gone back and forth with my choices at least 7 or 8 times. I think I sent Angel into a tizzy! She, on the other hand, found her choices easier. Not being a lover of fish and a vegetarian her choices were a little more limited.
I opted for the soup of the day to start which happened to be carrot. Angel chose the tomato and mozzarella salad. The soup was thick, full of flavour and seasoned to perfection. I could have done without the bowl embellishments in all honesty. My bowl was decorated with small cooked heritage carrots that to me resembled miniature orange Pine trees that you might decorate your Christmas cake with. Completely unnecessary and didn’t add anything to my enjoyment of this delicious soup. Perhaps the simple scattering of coriander and the herb pesto might have been enough?
Angel’s tomato and mozzarella salad was simple, yet tasty and beautifully presented. We did question where the tomatoes came from. I am unaware that the British tomato season has started as of yet and The Swan Inn do pride themselves on using local, seasonal or British produce where possible.
For our main course, Angel chose tagliatelle with forest mushroom and carrot top pesto. What a great way to use the carrot tops from my carrot soup starter. I loved the way chef Darren Newman eliminated waste here. Very forward thinking. Angel commented on the flavour. She said it was “fresh and a step up from regular pesto”. I asked her to score it out of 10 just so I might get an understanding of her level of enjoyment. She gave it an 8.
My main course was perfection on a plate. After all that deliberation back and forth I new hand on heart that I had made the perfect choice for me. A succulent, pan-fried piece of Cornish hake nestled on a clam and mussel chowder. The chowder was exquisite. A thick creamy soup flavoured with plenty of dill which I adore. Nestled on top of my perfectly cooked hake was the most deliciously buttery samphire. A truly delightful dish and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.
Both Angel and I were full to bursting so couldn’t find room for dessert on this occasion. I did happen to notice that a cheesecake of the day is on the menu which would make my other half Steve a very happy man. I have also heard rumours that the sticky toffee pudding is to die for. I shall have to return to find out for myself.
We fully enjoyed our visit to the quaint village of Lympstone and our lunch at The Swan Inn. A perfect way to spend a blustery Saturday afternoon.
You can find The Swan Inn at The Strand, Lympstone, Devon, EX8 5ET. To make a booking call 01395 272644.
Disclaimer: I was invited by The Swan Inn, Lympstone to visit and sample their new menu. I was not paid for this post and all views are my own as always.
Photograph credit – Angel Wade Photography