on January 9, 2013
With just over an hour left on our parking space in Pickering, we decided to find a close by pub for a very quick bite to eat and a pint. Wandering back into Pickering from the car park, we spotted one of the types of pub we normally like; old and slightly battered around the edges. The Black Swan is a white painted rendered building of a certain age. A plaque outside described tells the tale of how the locals of Pickering walked to the pub after the opening of the train line in the mid 1800s. What an exciting day that must have been and how it would have changed lives forever. Today I have to say that the pub is nothing special, and in fact it looked a little careworn and a bit down at heel. Unfortunately the days of pub landlords sitting back serving pints and expecting a living out of it has long gone. The Black Swan is one of those pubs unfortunately refurbished in the early 1980s with artex walls painted dark yellow to hide the cigarette tar with bright patterned carpet. To complete the look there is a host of horse brass dotted along the wall and hanging from the ceiling. I imagine old open air museums of the future will be screaming out for a place like this.The meals board offered two dishes for £10. Good value indeed and the choice included standard pub fare such as lasagne, pie and chips or fish and chips. In total there were about half a dozen choices and a separate kids menu. My beloved chose a cheese and tomato toasty and I went for a coronation chicken sandwich on a French stick which was even cheaper. Obviously there isn't too much to go wrong with a cheese toasty, but my coronation chicken was particularly gloopy and oily, and the bread was that horrible easy bake stuff – hard and crispy on the outside and slightly soggy in. While our meal didn't break the bank (I think the sandwiches were £4 each) it also wasn't anything to write home about. A friend's scampi was basic but reasonable. In short, it seemed the food was cheap and cheerful rather than anything else, but then we didn't pay anything beyond fairly cheap for it. Thankfully the beer was rather better kept and my pint of Black Sheep was spot on. While the Black Swan didn't sell anything "unusual", a nice pint of sheep is enough to keep any real ale fan satisfied. We did find the service to be friendly and quick, and as we were dining one of the wait staff volunteered to stay on for quarter of an hour to help out (there was quite a party of us), which was a good sign that the staff cared about the service they offered. Overall, I won't claim the Black Swan was anything special but it was OK for what we wanted it for.
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