The White Swan at Fence

Fence, Lancashire

Ignore the carpet: the former Northcote chef is cooking up a storm at this unpretentious country boozer


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At first glance The White Swan is the archetypal pleasant country boozer. There’s an open fire, stuffed animal heads on the wall and a questionable purple carpet, while well-kept barrels of Timothy Taylor ale feed the pumps behind the big wooden bar.

But pick up a menu and things look a little different. Where you might expect to see burgers and fish and chips you find dishes packed with finesse, technique and wonderful local ingredients. Menus are dependent on what the restaurant can get its hands on from its local suppliers but the aim is the same – to deliver clean, accurate flavours on the plate.

The man behind these seasonal delights is head chef Tom Parker, who cut his teeth under Nigel Haworth at Northcote, before taking over the kitchen at The White Swan near Burnley, where he promptly picked up a Michelin star in 2018.

The award hasn’t changed things much, beyond making it harder to book a table at the weekend. Parker continues to keep the menu tight with just three starters, three mains and three desserts, while prices remain keen.

There’s an equally good value wine list or try one of the homemade fruit-infused spirits, such as rhubarb gin or burnt orange whisky. Special mention must also go to the epic cheeseboard from The Courtyard Dairy near Settle, which is a who’s who of Britain’s best artisan cheesemakers.

Never judge a pub by its carpet.

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