The Swan – Chapel Down

Visit Date: 31/01/2019

Score: 40/50

Tenterden TN30 7NG, UK

Chapel Down produces some of the best English Sparkling Wine you can find…. more recently branching out into equally fine craft Beers, Ales, Ciders and Gins. Sussex and Kent producers are at the forefront of this ‘Spirited’ revolution….. with many becoming more and more common at high end food shops, merchants and restaurants. ‘Buy British’ has never been so apt in these early 2019 Brexit days!


It was only natural for BTNDC to be curious too and venture out to one of these, what seems natural, partnerships. There are many vineyards offering taster sessions, tours, The Cheese and Wine tasting at Bolney Estate in Sussex particularly memorable, and also fine dining restaurants. The Swan Restaurant, part of the I’ll be Mother family, seems to be a natural fit for Chapel Down. 

It was also a natural fit to venture out into Kent, over an hour away, on January 31st, when someone in the group was doing ‘dry January’ ! Thanks DC!

Less natural, I prefer adventurous, was that we ventured out during Britain’s annual snow warning night…. Thanks again DC!! Needless to say a vineyard tucked away down some Kentish country lanes didn’t inspire many to venture out that night….. yes we were the only ones there bar a party of about 12 in the private dining area. But it was lovely….. we had the bar to ourselves….. tried a few of the Chapel Down offerings, curiously enough, in front of a roaring fire that alone made the journey well worth it.

Unfortunately the taster menu is only on offer on weekend nights, it would have been perfect to have had that with a Chapel Down wine paired flight, however the menu looked enticing enough. 

Avid fans of this blog will know that the bread and butter served, not only offers you into a glimpse in the chef and management styles, but also if you are in for a treat ahead.

The Taster Triangle;
Soft Butter?
Good selection of warm bread?
A selection of Salts?

Yes… nailed! Great start….. I particularly remember the butter being perfect, others the Poppy Seeded or IPA with Treacle breads.
You get these treats typically at restaurants once you’ve ordered off the menu…. they now know they are getting your money …… but then these can be seen as a freebie which really you don’t have to care about as the customer isn’t paying for them directly. It seems obvious but a good night isn’t just about the food you order off the menu but the entire experience. Apologies to our avid readers if I’m going over old ground! 

Being associated with a vineyard, The Swan clearly offers a fabulous selection of wines, especially Chapel Down ones albeit not exclusively. As DC was finishing Dry January the rest of us had to make up for him!, ordering a white to start followed by two reds….. only after having a mini taster of several reds thank you very much. 

The food!…. DC went with the Wild Mushroom Broth garnished with a Kentish Blue Scone, which went down very well.

Bill and I had the Beef Short Rib with Mustard Mayo, which was exceptional. 

Karl went the for the Rabbit Terrine with Jerusalem Artichoke & Parsley, Chestnuts & Soda Bread, which again got fully consumed leaving the entire restaurant in silence for all of about three minutes. 

Great Start.

Next up was pretty much everything on the menu…. all delicious.

The Pork….

Perfectly cooked Duck breast apparently with Cavalo Nero & Blood Orange. 

And a Marjoram Dumpling dish for the table. Three dumplings served, a fourth was requested and swiftly received!

All the sides on offer. 

Great food, superb wine, even keeping DC amused through our deteriorating states, it was the near perfect way to spend a snowy winters night. However perhaps the best was to come… as on a scouting visit a month or two earlier it was at this point I was offered the Chapel Down Desert Wine. To which I replied along the lines of ‘No way, I hate desert wine’. The Lady host replied ‘it’s not sweet’ ‘try it and if you don’t like it I’ll buy it for you!’ Anything for an easy life I tried it….
Amazing! The best and only sweet wine I like!
‘I’ll take home two bottles please’ was my reply that night and on this BTNDC night it was ‘three automatic glasses of your desert wine please’ to the same fun and well worth a mention Lady host, “oh and a bottle to take home for DC please for gallantly driving us here”. 

As is customary at this point of a great evening, after so much beautiful vino, I haven’t the notes on the deserts except that all were very good!, especially the Brie which was exceptional soft! 

Rhubarb & Marshmallow Swiss Roll ordered by DC although he later enjoyed the Chapel Down Vodka & Vanilla Jelly at home in February. Apparently very strong!

As is typical one of everything was ordered and equally typical it was all finished…..must have been good!

A thoroughly lovely night. Great food and super wine. Beautiful setting and fun service…. for a non London fine dining establishment this scored very well and is well worth a visit.
I’ll be returning, not only because if you buy 2000 shares in Chapel Down you get great perks which then excuses you to procure and drink more of their offerings, but I think with fresh, local, seasonal produce the changing menu will be a delightful surprise on every return visit.

Obviously we still had the snow to venture back through to get home…. these helped…

Tenterden Vineyard Park,
Small Hythe Rd,
TN30 7NG