The Swallows Return is a country pub in a gorgeous converted barn just outside Worthing. We’ve done a fair few restaurant reviews but this is definitely the closest to home for us! The restaurant has been fully refurbished recently and has a cosy vibe with touches of local history dotted around on the walls. The barn is an ‘L’ shaped so each dining room area is narrow rather than fully open so it has a really intimate feel even if it does get busy. Open fires, a well stocked bar and you could happily while away a few hours chatting or even lost in a book! There are also two outside areas offering the option for al fresco drinks or dining. A basket of blankets means that even if the evening gets chilly you can stay outside.
We were seated next to the large glass doors so had plenty of light, and soon Lorraine came over to let us know the specials, soup and take our drinks order. Neither of us was drinking but even then were impressed by the range of soft drinks on offer, and both loved the taste of the Thomas & Evans Botanicals.
We visited on a Monday lunchtime and although there was a two or three course fixed price menu available until 5pm we chose to dine from the main menu. We chose a sharing Mezze Platter for a starter, and were both impressed when a generously proportioned board arrived topped with warm flatbread and dishes of dips, along with breaded brie triangles and lentil falafels! So many colours, textures and flavours to enjoy I would defy any couple not to polish the lot off! I especially loved the tzatziki topped with red onion.
On to the main course and after a fair amount of deliberation I chose a Slow cooked Ham Hock, which was so tender it practically fell off the bone! It tasted doubly amazing thanks to the orange and whiskey marmalade glaze. It was presented with a healthy serving of onion mash and was accompanied with chunky carrots and peas and a white wine sauce. All the flavours complemented each other so well, and at first thought my eyes were too big for my belly but it was so good I easily polished it off!
Sam again had a hard time choosing between the two pies on offer but eventually went for a Steak and Ale pie which was served in a generously sized pie dish with a huge puff pasty lid, with vegetables and mash potato on the side. Sam even liked the gravy which is rare for him – it tasted ‘really meaty’ but was actually vegetarian! Both our meals not only looked great when they arrived, with a lot of attention to detail, but the plates and dishes were warm and they arrived not long after our starter was cleared away.
Now choosing a pudding didn’t take very long at all as something had caught my eye on my first perusal of the menu and that was the Elderflower Gin Creme Brulee, and seeing as Gin and anything Elderflower flavoured are two of my favourite things this was a done deal before I even read the rest of the options! It arrived with a scoop of ice cream (as an extra) on the side and three crispy buttery biscuits. It was SO delicious, creamy and smooth underneath the crispy crunchy top layer. Sam went for a traditional Eton Mess with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries in crushed meringue and folded whipped cream.
All the team on duty were chatty, friendly and knowledgeable about the dishes available on the menu, and were clearly proud of the pub and working in it, greeting regulars and new diners with the same warmth. Another lovely touch was the ‘dog station’ at the entrance, muddy paws and boots welcome, and your dog can even have a doggy beer! We’d feel happy taking the kids there (though there is no play area) but just as happy having a relaxed dinner with friends or just a drink in the beer garden!
The Swallows Return is easy to get to, it’s adjacent to the a259 or can be accessed in under 5 minutes from the junction of the a27/a24, so perfect as a stop off if you’re driving east or east along the south coast!
For all the menus, including Sunday Roasts, Weekend Treat Menus, food for Vegans and to book a table at The Swallows Return in Ferring then visit their website. You can find them at 1 Titnore Lane, Worthing, West Sussex BN12 6PB or call them on 01903 506346.