It’s not often that I go out for lunch. Well, not without my family which usually involves a nearby pizza restaurant and so, yet again, my taste buds are subjected to cheese and tomato (staple flavours with my six and four year old) and a persistent sense of a bomb about to detonate as like most children, mine like to ‘eat and run’. So when a couple of friends that I met when my little boy was born suggested we go out for lunch without children or husbands I instantly reached for my diary. Date agreed, we then had the dilemma of where to spend our precious first outing so with a strategy of maximising our time together and minimising our travel for school pick up, we agreed on visiting the village Long Melford in Suffolk.

Long Melford is a large village and was one of the great Cloth Towns of medieval Suffolk. There’s one long high street with the beautiful Holy Trinity Church and Melford Hall run by the National Trust at one end and then walking down the high street you can browse antique shops, boutiques, galleries and choose from a great selection of tea shops, pubs and restaurants. So where to eat? A suggestion was made that we try The Swan, a Michelin listed boutique, two rosette restaurant with rooms. Having visited The Swan several years ago, I was really interested to experience lunch there again.

Once I’d ticked off my daily list of the school run, two loads of washing walking the dog and scrubbing felt-tip pen off the kitchen wall I arrived in Long Melford flustered and chaotic. I put my blinkers on as I made my way up the high street past the gorgeous boutiques and galleries to meet my friends hoping not to be the last one to arrive. Upon opening the door of The Swan, I felt like I’d opened the door to somewhere special. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and distinctly relaxing. There were fresh flowers on the bar, several small groups of people enjoying the brunch menu and a couple perched on wooden bar stools by the large front windows sipping glasses of wine and watching the world go by.

The interior style of The Swan has changed considerably since my last visit. It has been cleverly put together to give a contemporary but relaxed feel. The dining area has been accommodated brilliantly into two areas which both have a unique and quirky feel. You have the choice of the light and airy room at the rear with wallpaper designed by Clarke and Clarke featuring small brown monkeys playfully leaping through the jungle and a fabulous statement Moroccan ceiling light throwing out mesmerizing patterns or the more traditional timber beamed dining space with soft velvet brass studded chairs, golden hues and featuring a rich gold lined black floor lamp.

Having been shown to our table by a lovely member of staff, we had a good look at the menu. Our first impressions were that this was not a cheap place to eat but as we read the menu it was clear that it had been put together by a chef who has carefully selected and thought about his diners experience. Dishes included local pigeon with cocoa foie gras, venison Wellington with truffle purée and Orkney scallop with pickled clams, bacon and a chestnut crumb. There were also the more familiar dishes of catch of the day and Jersey rock oysters. And if you had a penchant for all things sweet, there was white chocolate mouse with popcorn, elderberry soufflé with a champagne granita and a selection of home made ice-creams and artisan cheeses.

The drinks selection is extensive and having arrived on the day that they were launching their new cocktail menu, I needed no further excuse to return in the evening with my husband once we rather rapidly dropped the children off at a school disco. In the evenings, the atmosphere remains of a relaxing and cosy place to be. The fire was lit, glasses were clinking and there was the gentle hum of conversation. Being a fan of all things passion fruit, I felt I had to try the passion star Martini. A delicious combination of passion fruit puree, vodka and vanilla syrup with a cheeky shot of prosecco on the side. I wasn’t disappointed. The Swan shows an incredible eye for detail and a way of making your time with them special. Along with the cocktails were canapés of beetroot cured mackerel with a horseradish emulsion and beef carpaccio with smoked aubergine.

So would I recommend The Swan?

Absolutely. For fine dining, cocktails with homemade rosehip syrup and Long Melford sloe gin or just to enjoy a latte on their beautiful turquoise velvet sofa. The staff are welcoming and friendly providing a relaxing place to spend your precious child-free time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going to pizza restaurants with my children but I’m really pleased to have returned to The Swan which thankfully is a grown-up place where I can enjoy flavours beyond those of cheese and tomato pizza.

Just to give you a sneaky peek at The Swan, take a look at this video: