You might have already discovered Ian Gibbins’ delicious natural home-made chutney at Aoyama Farmer’s Market, where he’s had a stall for the last two years. If you have, you’ve probably already picked your favourite flavour combo (ours is the sweet and salty Peach and Eggplant, although it was a toss-up between this and the curry-tinged Piccalilli). Now, Bristol-born Gibbins has opened his very own deli and bakery, where you can pick up not only bottles of this flavourful chutney but a variety of other traditional British foods.
Swan & Lion opened in November 2015 in Kudan-Minami, just a few minutes’ walk from Chiyoda ward’s Yasukuni Shrine. Its pretty green shopfront welcomes customers into a small but inviting space that includes a tasting table; shelves lined with things like Colman’s Mustard, Marmite and PG Tips tea; and a glass counter displaying meaty pies, desserts like sticky toffee pudding, and fresh salads of the day. It’s takeout only (although if you feel like hanging around, Gibbins will ply you with tea and chatty conversation) and you can choose from affordable lunches such as the Stew Set (small ¥700, large ¥800), which comes with salad and a side such as mashed potato or Welsh rarebit. We tried the Barbecue, Pulled Pork and Bean stew, which had just the right amount of spicy zing to complement the rich, wholesome soup. For dessert, we tucked into what has to be the world’s dreamiest baked custard tart (¥220) – smooth and fluffy on the inside; crispy and golden on the outside.
Gibbins prides himself on using seasonal, all-natural ingredients, so you can expect the menu to change regularly as he shops for the freshest foods each week. He also enjoys experimenting with Japanese ingredients – when we visited, he’d just finished making a batch of marmalade from natsumikan and he let us taste one of the day’s sandwiches filled with chicken liver pâté and ume (Japanese plum) chutney. As for the name Swan & Lion, it’s a nod to Britain’s quirky pub names but it’s also related to his shop’s logo: a coat of arms featuring, amongst other things, a lion (the traditional symbol of Britain) and a swan (representing the Sydney Swans, because Gibbins lived in Australia before moving to Japan).
The shop is closed on weekends, but if you can't make it there during the week, then you can find their stall at Aoyama Farmer's Market and other farmer’s markets on the weekends. Also check their Facebook page for announcements of other market stalls and occasions that they do open the shop on Saturdays. And, should you wish to serve up some quintessential British food at your next party or business conference, Swan & Lion provides catering services too.
|Venue name:||Swan & Lion|
3-5-4 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 11am-6.30pm, closed Sat & Sun (but you can find them at Aoyama Farmer's Market and other farmer's markets on Sat)|
|Transport:||Ichigaya Station (Chuo-Sobu, Yurakucho, Namboku, Shinjuku lines)|