Searching Kingston you may struggle to find anything out of the ordinary. Much as I love Kingston and have grown up here, it has become heavily commercialised, with an abundance of chain stores. So what sets The Swallow Bakery apart from the likes of Costa and Nero that currently dominate the high street?
Unlike a lot of the neighbouring cafés their produce is always freshly sliced, chopped, cooked and baked on the premises, daily, from scratch. We like that! It isn’t often I go into a restaurant and fancy everything on the menu. The Swallow's new summer menu, is a different story. Situated in the Kingston Rose Theatre, It takes inspiration from the cities of Australia, bringing you the flavours of urban Melbourne, focusing on all things healthy. With only eight dishes to choose from and printed on a single piece of paper, it is simple and concise. Straight to the point.
My tastebuds eventually decided on the Avocado and Persian feta on toasted sourdough with chilli, mint and broad bean dressing (£8). With Avocado and sourdough being so ‘in’ this season, sprawled across brunch menu after brunch menu, it was intriguing to see how this dish could differ. Thanks goes to the feta for this, the perfect salty companion for the Avocado. I was slightly unconvinced by the broad bean component of this dish. Being such a subtle taste it struggled to compete with the chilli and mint, maybe find a slightly more flavoursome alternative?
My fellow foodie (Belle) opted for smoked salmon on toasted brioche with lemon and dill cream cheese, topped with whole capers and thinly sliced red onions (£8). Refreshing to see smoked salmon served on brioche, what a nice touch. One thing we certainly cannot complain about, is the sheer amount of salmon. We love salmon, and we love lots of it. So thanking you.The capers were the surprise element of this dish, exploding out from beneath the dill cream, offering a burst of flavour to match the lemon and salmon. The dill cream was splendid, but, make it a side sauce, let the salmon to be the star of the plate, leave the cream as a bonus.
What makes the bakery special is the decor. Playing up to the theatrical vibe, diners sit beneath rows of bunting, with quotes by famous showbiz personnel plastered on the walls and pillars, whilst sitting on mismatch furniture recycled from various productions at the Rose. You might even be devouring your Mocha on the same seat Dame Judi Dench once sat upon. That is pretty snazzy.
Having initially felt slightly out of place among the vast prams and toddlers, we soon found ourselves joined by Korean War Veteran, Terry Turner. A delightful old man who educated us on, what he described as, the ‘forgotten war’, even inviting us to the monthly meeting at Virginia Water, in aid of remembering those who were left behind. It is this joining of generations that is so magical, an element that could potentially see The Swallow Bakery as a meeting place for all ages. So let’s try and branch away from a cafe for the yummy mummies and dishy daddies of Kingston, we've already got plenty of those.
Wouldn't it be glorious if the Rose Kingston could become a hub of dramatic experimentation? With the amount of people who get involved in the International Youth Arts Festival each year, there is clearly a market for these budding artists, just a lack of opportunity. Maybe start up a ‘Late Night Rose’ evening, following in the footsteps of the National Portrait Gallery. Introducing work from new writers, singers and poets for example. Come on Kingston let’s surprise everyone and take a leaf out of London’s book.
Look forward to seeing how this little cheeky venue progress’.