Review: Pen & Cob at The Swan Hotel
A breath of fresh air!
After a warm and humid busy morning, stepping into the Pen & Cob felt like a breath of fresh air. We were greeted by vibrant green and blue hues, a cool (in both senses of the word) tiled floor and rainforest botanicals. With funky fish wall art and floor to ceiling windows, the Swan Hotel’s new British Brasserie has a contemporary, fresh feel. Quite London-esque in fact.
We sank into the comfy chairs and were grateful for the quick attention from the waitress who offered us drinks and menus. There are plenty of options available throughout the day with an ‘all you can eat’ buffet breakfast followed by brunch dishes until noon as well as sandwiches, sharing boards, starters, mains and puddings. And if you just fancy a quick bite, the Pen & Cob Terrace offers pizzas, salads, nibbles and desserts.
Refreshed by our cold drinks, we chose two starters. A generous portion of wild mushroom and gorgonzola linguini with truffle oil and crispy kale was satisfyingly earthy and happily not too rich. Delicious too was the salsify, butternut squash and courgette rosti which came with salty puddles of kale pesto and a perfectly poached egg.
There are lots of crowd-pleasing classics among the mains with battered fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and caesar salad. After much deliberation, we opted for the slow cooked belly pork and the market fish of the day. Succulent pork was served with green beans, a fragrant sage and cheddar potato cake, a rich Calvados jus and a shard of crunchy crackling. The star of the show here though was the fruity apple puree beautifully enhanced with star anise. Our fish dish was sea bass with roasted new potatoes and vibrant tender stem broccoli. A creamy basil sauce pulled everything together nicely and we were particularly impressed by the flavoursome potatoes. All too often a good spud is overlooked.
Anyone with a sweet tooth will be in pudding heaven. We were tempted by the apple and berry crumble as well as the sticky toffee but in the end couldn’t resist the lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. For me, this dish achieved the perfect sharp-sweet contrast with creamy lemon, zingy coulis and a sorbet which packed a punch. No wishy-washy flavours here. Our other dessert was a chocolate and honeycomb sundae. We scooped up the chocolatey chocolate ice cream, squidgy brownie pieces and crunchy-chewy honeycomb. ‘I don’t have this enough’ said my companion as he scraped the dish clean.
The Pen & Cob also has an extensive drink menu to enjoy with a good selection of cocktails, gins, beers and wines. And if, like me, you enjoy a fragrant white wine, I can highly recommend a glass of the Spanish Eidosela Albariño, Rias Baixas. Just perfect on a warm, sunny day.
Pen & Cob
The Embankment, Bedford, MK40 1RW
This review was written by Jacqui Hagen and first appeared in the AugSep19 edition of OVL Magazine. Photography by Ant Hagen.