Al fresco for a fiver -The Swan

We arrive at the Swan at 1.40pm to buy lunch to eat in their lovely garden. There are two of us, and two more arriving shortly in a car. The barmaid decides to add a bit of drama to the occasion. “If you don’t order in five minutes, the kitchen’s closed,” she says. Somebody, somehow, seems to have drained her completely of humour. I smile, ask if they can at least wait till the others arrive. “The kitchen closes in five minutes.” Phone calls are made, menus are read out loud, orders are taken. I get back with the relevant information with a minute to spare. She looks vaguely disappointed.

The second mountain to climb is the food itself. It’s a baking hot day, we’re sitting at one of the wooden pub tables in the grassy back garden, and I’ve never seen a plate piled so high. I’ve ordered scampi and chips – there’s nothing fancy about the Swan menu – and I put on weight just looking at it. Then I start to eat it – this is old style pub grub: peas, chips, coleslaw and bits of scampi which bear no relation to prawns. I enjoy it thoroughly, though, and even don’t mind when Dave nicks one of my scampi – there are at least 30 more. I wash them down with Grolsch, awaiting the third big hurdle of the afternoon – digesting everything. The bell rings for last orders and I realise the whole experience has transported me back to the late seventies. AL

Swan hake: or whatever it is that’s inside the breadcrumbs
Southover High St, Lewes
When? Lunch 12-2pm; Dinner 6-9pm
How Much? Around a fiver
(t) 01273 480211
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