Review: The White Swan at Shawell’s ‘Express Lunch’

Even the best restaurants, especially in rural areas, can sometimes struggle to pull in strong lunchtime trade. GFC favourite The White Swan at Shawell, Leicestershire (recommended by us here), is in a beautiful village location but is actually well placed for many businesses in Lutterworth, Rugby, Magna Park or indeed those passing through the busy M1/M6 junction nearby.

So to encourage people to leave the office, the Michelin Guide-recommended pub has introduced an ‘Express Lunch’ option it can serve in just 45 minutes. For £15 you’ll get an amuse-bouche, a main course and side, plus petits fours. And it’s all shot through with quality you would expect from chef-patron Rory McLean, a Rugby lad who has worked in the past with Angela Hartnett, Jason Atherton and Marcus Wareing.

On the menu might be a substantial amuse combining homemade taramasalata with a citrussy avocado cream and Parmesan crisp, while mains include epic fish and chips with crunchy goose-fat chips, or – particularly enjoyed by GFC on a recent visit – slow-cooked ox cheek with truffle mush and spiced carrot purée. Petit fours such as chocolate truffles rolled in pistachio crumb complete the meal.

If you’ve not got anything too pressing back at work, you might pay a quick visit to the restaurant’s terrific wine list. If the boss is paying, go for the Chateau Batailley Pauillac, or more realistically, select from 15 bottles available by the glass. The superbly smooth Faultline Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough goes a treat with fish.

It all sounds a lot better than sitting at your desk with a sandwich, no?

Tim Burke
The author:

Leicestershire editor Tim lives in Leicester has been a journalist for 30 years, and over the last 12 years he has been restaurant critic for Metro, Great Food Club and the Leicester Mercury. He is also author of 2016 publication The Leicestershire and Rutland Cookbook.