Loving food as much as I do, one of the things I missed the most during the (many!) lockdowns was going out to eat in restaurants. I love the whole experience of dining out – the atmosphere, the service, menu studying, beautiful wines and great food. Obviously, I have my favourites – but I am always on the look out for vegan friendly restaurants and Ingham Swan had been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time.
We booked a dinner, bed and breakfast package back in January 2020 to celebrate our third Wedding Anniversary in May. Fast forward a year and after rescheduling four times, it was finally time to go- this time to celebrate our fourth Wedding Anniversary (time flies in a pandemic!).
The Ingham Swan has built a strong reputation as a top culinary destination for foodies. The pub itself is situated next door to the beautiful medieval Holy Trinity church and overlooks the North Norfolk countryside. There isn’t much nearby, but you could wander aimlessly in the beautiful Norfolk countryside, as far as the coast (or just hop in your car!). The pub dates back to the 14th century, it boasts a thatched roof and a lovely outside terrace – perfect for the when the sun is shining.
Inside the décor is rustic with a central fireplace, exposed beams, and bare flint and brick walls. The restaurant is not too big, and certainly has a relaxed and cosy vibe. The food is very much the star of the show, and you can tell as every moving plate of food through the restaurant is eyed by every table as it chooses its final destination.
The menu is of course varied and champions local produce – and lucky for us The Ingham Swan could not have been more accommodating to us vegans! The kitchen is over seen by head chef-patron Daniel Smith, with Head Chef Alex Clare and the food is remarkable. It is always nice to see a popular foodie gastro-pub such as this, offer but also treat plant based food with such care, attention and skill. Our whole meal felt like a celebration of vegetables.
We were shown to our table and given our vegan menu… with two choices for each course, so we did the only sensible thing and ordered everything!
Ingham Swan: Vegan Menu
Celeriac Veloute, Fresh Bread
Roasted Cauliflower, Watercress, Tacons Pickled Vegetables Crispy Shallot, Pomegranate, Potato Puff
Salt Baked Celeriac, Sauce Vierge, Spinach, Pine Nuts, Chimichurri
Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Saffron Cocotte Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Celeriac, Roasted Shallots
Roasted Beetroot, Charred Courgette Salsa Verde, Tenderstem Broccoli, Toasted Almonds
Macerated Strawberries, Dehydrated Strawberry, Hazelnut Crumb, Raspberry Sorbet
Blackberry Gel, Blackberry Sorbet, Pistachio Snow
2 Courses £23.50
3 Courses £28.00
We ordered a bottle of Chenin Blanc – which was the perfect companion to our meal, a delicate dry white with floral notes. After we made our menu selections, we were served a complimentary amuse bouche- a smooth and creamy celeriac velouté with fresh bread. It was seasoned to perfection and a great mini course to get us ready for our meal.
The service was quick and friendly. Our starters came out soon after the amuse bouche was cleared away. The plating was delicate and modern… the colours bounced off of the plates. My cauliflower against a black backdrop, and the greens of the spinach and chimichurri against a white backdrop. We knew we were in for a treat when each and every component was perfect.
The waitress gave us a little breather before bringing out our main. Again, something I am grateful for – particularly at a foodie destination – I always enjoy a slower service. You want to enjoy your food, and then have the space between courses to relax, talk and enjoy the atmosphere. The timings held between the kitchen and the waiting staff were just right.
The mains came out – and what a burst of excitement and colour! The white plates hosted an actual celebration of vegetables. My roasted beetroot, charred courgette and tenderstem broccoli was a firework on the plate with a dusting of charred leek over the dish like confetti. It was joy to look at, and a joy to eat.
The saffron cocotte potatoes on the second dish grabbed your attention straight away – beautiful golden yellow, and silky smooth on the inside. Layer upon layer of beautiful veg. Both dishes had a welcomed addition of asparagus, which was simply glorious.
To finish, I had strawberries and a wonderfully crisp raspberry sorbet with the perfect crunch of a hazelnut crumb. And Husband a deep blackberry gel with blackberry sorbet – accompanied by a yummy, generous pistachio snow.
Honestly, it is rare to find plant based food celebrated with such care – leading to a fun, vibrant and exciting menu which literally danced with colour.
We love vegan food and the quality of our food, made me believe the chefs do too. To allow vegetables to take centre stage and let them be the star of the show isn’t something all chefs can do- but at The Ingham Swan it was a masterpiece.
After dinner, we went back to our room across the courtyard, with a bottle of red (when in Rome!). The room was bright and modern, with a retro edge. It had tea and coffee making facilities, as well as complimentary bottled water and bathroom toiletries. We enjoyed a hotel movie in bed with our wine, and it was a great way to end a wonderful evening. The king size bed was very comfortable and we both slept so well, thanks to the blackout curtains and fluffy pillows. The sun was shining again the next day and the view of the Holy Trinity church outside our window was gorgeous- a great view to wake up to.
Breakfast was served between 8.30am and 9.30am, and true to form we arrived in the restaurant at 9.20am! We were shown back to our dinner table, and again handed a vegan menu for breakfast. We both ordered the full vegan English. Coffee, tea and juice arrived, and a few minutes later our breakfast.
Ingham Swan : Breakfast
Plant Based Sausage, Baked Field Mushroom
Vine Tomatoes, Baby Leaf Spinach
I loved breakfast. The sausages were delicious, herby and moorish- happily we both had two on the plate! The baked field mushroom was unbelievable, the flavour was magic. Accompanied by spinach and tomato with some toast- you couldn’t want for anything more.
We loved our stay at Ingham Swan, a delight from start to finish and such a joy to be able to visit such a foodie destination as a vegan and receive nothing less than inventive, exciting and delicious food.
We will be back!