Making a large space feel cosy is no mean feat. The Black Swan at Ockham is a spacious converted Barn with high ceilings and a lot of floor space that has undergone a major refurbishment, and the folks at Greene King have really excelled themselves here. Once a dark and gloomy local pub, it has now been given the Farrow and Ball treatment, and has been transformed into a stylish restaurant, whilst being sure to keep the locals happy by maintaining the more traditional pub element on one side of the building. Dogs and children roam free here, wandering around the flagstone floor giving a wonderfully medieval feel to the whole place, and the jovial hum of regular punters drinking and chatting serves to add real atmosphere to the adjacent rooms.
The ‘smarter’ restaurant area is divided into several separate dining rooms with interconnecting archways, so as to break up the space and provide a more intimate experience, and chandeliers and soft lighting give the effect of a lower ceiling. Deer antlers and flora and fauna picture walls adorn the wood panelled walls, and the imposing log fire provides a warming welcome near the main entrance.
Trendy chrome enomatic wine dispensers allow drinkers who are also drivers to sample soupcons from a fantastic and varied selection of wines, whilst staying within their limits, and are given elegantly tall cut glass goblets to quaff from.
Rich Chicken Liver Pate with apple and date compote and succulent Berkshire Wood Pigeon breast were a highlight as was the hearty game pie. We slipped into our food comas after chewy sticky toffee pudding, which was the best I’ve ever tasted. The beautifully chilled Orange and Cardamom Brûlée was also a total triumph. We glugged a divine Segla 2008 Margaux that warmed the very cockles of my heart.
I became an instant fan of the Black Swan even before the Margaux touched my lips. This is gastro pub dining, done the right way.
To book a table, go to http://www.blackswanockham.com or call 01932 862364.