Thu, 06 Feb 2020
WE visited the newly-refurbished pub The Great Shefford, formerly The Swan, at midday during the week.
By 12.30pm the pub was filling up rapidly as customers arrived for a spot of lunch, a quiet drink or for the private party that was being held in a separate room.
The pub has been transformed by its owner Joshua Kahn and his vision for a smart pub and eating place accessible to all has come to fruition.
The refurbished premises were opened in early September and since then The Great Shefford has established itself as a welcoming meeting place for ‘ladies who lunch’, couples heading for a quiet drink, dog owners, families or the local business community meeting for a quick catch-up.
Although Joshua has changed the name of the pub, he is still mindful of its old roots – the menu is graced with a silhouette of a swan and vintage prints of swans adorn the walls, alongside pictures of the area, of its racing connections and other pictures especially chosen by him to reflect the ethos of the pub and the surrounding area.
The Great Shefford occupies a large site, which Joshua has thoughtfully and tastefully turned into an ‘area of five parts’ – the racing lounge, the bar, the private room, the dining area and the outside seating area, which can accommodate up to 100.
“We plan to install an outside kitchen for next summer for barbecues and to cook pizza” explains Joshua, who is clearly proud of what he has built here.
He shows us the dining area, which overlooks the river running alongside the pub, with its wooden floor – complete with low-carbon electric-run underfloor heating – and the private dining room which seats 10 and has a cascade of pink cherry blossom covering one corner.
“Cherry blossom is very much on trend,” says Joshua. “And I ordered this from Japan – [it is fake, but looks extremely realistic] – we only put it up recently, but the reaction has been extremely positive.”
The first thing that welcomes you as you walk through the main doors is the open bar area.
“It was important to me that we maintained the ‘pub’ element of the place,” says Joshua. “I wanted people to feel they could pop in for a pint or whatever, without thinking they had to eat.”
On the day we visited, Joshua was also getting ready for a quiz night. “We are already full for tonight’s event – people enjoy the casual atmosphere here and they also enjoy good food.”
The menu offers bar snacks – sandwiches, soup etc – as well as an à la carte choice with steak, from Vicars Game, and fish and vegetarian options. There are also vegan and free- from options available.
“We try to source as much as we can locally,” says Joshua. “And we want people to feel they have had a fine dining experience, but not at fancy prices.”
As we sat in the comfy chairs at the bespoke wooden tables, laid with linen napkins and smart cutlery, and with the soft lighting in brass light fittings, watching happy punters tucking into their lunch, it’s obvious that Joshua has achieved his aim.
The Great Shefford, Newbury Road, Hungerford, RG17 7DS
Phone: 01488 648462 www.thegreatshefford.com
Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11.30am-10.30pm