14 September 2009

Swan & Edgar in Marylebone


Bookshelves line the entrance of Edgar & Swan

Last week was an incredibly busy week. I spent most of my days and evenings flitting across London for work and meeting friends. As a result I over exerted myself so that by Friday I was run to the ground with the dreaded lurgy. So now, I'm stacked with posts of places I need to write about and pictures I need to download. Which is why I have to apolgise if we've been out recently and I haven't written about it yet. I am still to work my way through the previous and last week's subjects, so if it's worthy of mention it will appear in my blog at some point this week.


On Wednesday I and some of the lovely ladies from my office (B, Mahoney, La Skeld and Furball) took some ex-clients the Great Dane and Princess Leia out for some well overdue drinks at the Swan & Edgar in Marylebone. The pub is brother to the chintzy, but charming Bourne & Hollingsworth in Charlotte Street. I say brother as it feels more masculine than it's feminine Fitrovian sister, which is decorated with faded floral wallpaper and wouldn't look too out of place in a post-war British home.

Just like B&H Edgar & Swan is named after a now defunct British department store except the pubs share nothing with their grand namesakes. Particularly in terms of their size, with both places crossing the fine line between being claustophobic and cosy. Like B&H, E&S is also small. The ground floor is miniscule. It's so teeny, you'll wonder how they've managed to squeeze everything in. In the right hand corner there's a small, but perfectly formed bar made from stacked paperbacks and at a push seating for about 10 people.
Book lined walls and FT plastered chairs
We'd reserved a table so made our way up the creaky stars to the first floor, where the literary themes continues, with shelves and the window sills bursting with books and FT covered chairs. The theme extends to the first floor toilet floor which is covered in Scrabble tiles. There's also little touches like the tweed-lined seating which I've heard have been crafted from leftover fabric donated from Saville Row tailors which all add to the quirkly decor.


Taking our seat around an overwhelmingly big table on the first floor, we ordered a couple of bottles of wine and left it to La Skeld to order from the sheet of A4 paper consisting mainly of British snacks. This list included picnic favourites such as Scotch eggs, Cumberland sausages covered in honey and English deli board which comprised Liliputian size portions of food including a small bowl of pickled onions, quail eggs, a pork pie, slices of breaded ham, a bowl of crushed chickpeas and slices of brown bread.  So a fairly hearty and simple selection of snacks, or so we thought.  
Swan & Edgar on UrbanspoonWhen the assortment finally arrived my heart sank.   It looked and tasted like the party selection from M&S.  There's nothing wrong with food from M&S, but when you're paying to eat out, you just expect some level of skill involved in the preparation of your food.  If not in the kitchen, at least from the source and the quality of food was questionable. 

Verdict: Despite the bar snacks being a let down, we all had a really good night. The Edgar & Swan is not quite unique enough to make it a destination pub, but it's unpretentious and just the kind of place you'd wish was your local. I'd just wish more places like the Edgar & Swan would open up in London. It certainly makes a change to drinking in a Weatherspoons.

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