Mothers Day Lunch. A chance to celebrate wonderful women across the globe and a chance for pubs and restaurants and bistros up and down the country to trot out the same tired, over used and outdated dishes on a set menu they’ll then charge you an extortionate amount for.
Knowing that this still sadly happens means the fact that some places are thankfully a million miles away from this makes me want to jump up and down and shout for joy from the rooftops. Unfortunately I’ve eaten so much sublimely perfect food this afternoon that this is a physical impossibility so instead I’ll have to cheer weakly from the sofa where the boy and I are now wedged in a rather unbecoming but super comfortable fashion…
My own unbelievably wonderful, one in a squillion mother lives overseas so whilst it’s sad that the only communal eating we could do today would be cheese on toast at two ends of Skype, it is a blessing that I have been welcomed into another family with complete and utter generosity and warmth and so it was that I found myself dining among lovely friends in a beautiful location on a gorgeously warm Spring afternoon.
Recently opened and part of the Brunning and Price pub chain, The Mute Swan is situated on the river, a short walk across the bridge from Hampton Court station and on such a glorious March Mothers Day afternoon as this, it was understandably heaving. That said, the welcome was warm, the ambience was relaxed celebration, the layout was spacious and the food was something pretty special indeed.
Sharing platters heaving with the kind of nibbly finger food that made me want to have one of everything immediately were laid before us and promptly devoured to the accompanying soundtrack of very satisfied yummy noises…for the vegetarian palate there was a whole baked Camembert, surrounded by tomato hummus and aubergine rolls, char grilled artichokes and cous cous stuffed peppers, saffron and lemon pannacotta, tandoori paneer cheese, olives and crostini’s whilst carnivores were left more than gratified with a generous selection of Parma, salami and coppa hams nestled alongside goats cheese, pâté, pickles & hot buttered toast triangles. The menu states it’s ideal for sharing or a generous main for one. This time we shared. I can’t guarantee the same result next time…
If there’s room for improvement here, it would be in the speed of the service. A generous defense would be to say it was a busy afternoon but friends who went there for a birthday meal one evening recently agreed that it was definitely erring on the side of slow.
That said, the food once again made up for it…roast dinners crowned with Yorkshire puddings the size of bowling balls…a light and flavourful crab linguine…smoked salmon and haddock fishcakes that could have doubled as door stops in their size and for me, the starving waif in the corner, a rump of venison served with pork and prune stuffed suet pudding, sweet potato fondant and port jus. There’s no doubt that this was a feast that I wanted to eat again the minute I’d returned the plate to the waitress, empty and clean enough to bypass the dishwasher and head back to the kitchen for another helping.
The venison was superbly cooked and the jus complemented it’s richness with a lovely depth of flavour. Providing a pop of colour on the plate, the sweet potato fondant was bright and tasty and the suet pudding, not something I’d normally make a beeline for, was gorgeously stodgy enough to be filling without sitting in my stomach like a brick for the next 12 hours. There was literally nothing that could have been improved upon and that is a rare thing to find anywhere.
You might think that room for dessert would be slight but that’s because you’ve never been to lunch with us before. Pudding was a necessity even for those without a massive sweet tooth and the choice well balanced familiarity with the unknown. Bread and butter pudding with apricot sauce was warming and hearty and light all at the same time…chocolate hazelnut tart was undeniably rich and indulgent…hot waffle with caramelized banana came in bite size pieces dripping in toffee sauce and the lemon and passion fruit meringue pie was creamily filled and crumbly encased with just enough tang to lift it from being overly sweet.
It’s hard not carry on raving about the food here because it really was that good. If they dial the service up another couple of notches, not the quality but just the speed, it really would deliver on every level. As it currently stands, it wouldn’t make me reluctant to return or recommend…just be prepared to take your time and enjoy a glass of wine or two while food that will make your heart sing and your tummy thank-you is delivered to you.