Allergy Dad and I have decided that our best bet for some quality time is to go out to lunch together (date lunch rather than date night). For our inaugural date lunch, we decided to head for The Brook Inn in the small village of Washbrook. The Brook Inn is, to all intents and purposes, a fairly regular pub that serves food, just like you would find in any village or town, except for one thing: this pub is accredited by the Coeliac Society as a gluten-free caterer.
The pub itself is fairly standard. The interior was halfway between standard British pub (dark wood furniture, horse brasses, vinyl placemats), and Scandinavian modern (off white walls, light coloured soft furnishings). I found this a bit confusing. I would prefer that it jumped whole heartedly in one direction or the other. I don’t mind which, well I would prefer Scandinavian modern actually, but the combination made it seem like it was a bit unfinished. However, the dining room was full for a Wednesday lunchtime with several bookings so the atmosphere was convivial.
The sheer novelty of being able to choose from many options on the menu was exciting. Some items are gluten-containing, such as pies, some items can be either, such as burgers, and some items are gluten-free, such as fish and chips. I decided to order the Tempura-battered prawns, as I thought this might present an interesting challenge to the chef. These came with chips and a salad (because this is a British pub and everything must be served with chips or, at least, some form of potato!). Allergy Dad and I ordered two side orders to share: some gluten-free onion rings, and some gluten-free garlic bread.
Allergy Dad really enjoyed the garlic bread. There’s a piece missing from the photo because he couldn’t wait to try it. He also enjoyed his meal. I was impressed by the crisp, lightness of the tempura batter as I was sceptical that you could get that texture from gluten-free batter. Unfortunately, I found the batter rather bland. The meal portions were very generous so I grew tired of eating the batter. In the end, I just released the prawns and left the batter. This was probably not helped by the fact that the onion rings used the same batter so I had ended up ordering rather a samey meal. The chips were thick and crispy, and the salad was good too.
I was quite full, but, in order to write a complete review, I decided to selflessly try a dessert. The entire dessert menu was gluten free. I chose a baked white chocolate cheesecake. This came with dark chocolate drops and sauce, and a plum compote. It was good to eat some seasonal fruit, but I was not entirely convinced that the plum compote worked well with the white chocolate. Maybe something like a ginger cheesecake would have worked better and brought in some earthier, Autumnal flavours. Certainly, the cheesecake itself was excellent with a rich, crisp biscuit base that I would not have guessed was gluten free from the flavour and texture. Unfortunately, I was very full so could not finish my generous wedge of cheesecake.
The bill worked out as £20 ish per person for a main course, side order, dessert, and soft drinks. We were happy to add a generous tip as the waitress had been helpful and polite without being overzealous. It didn’t feel like we were being charged a premium for eating gluten free. We will definitely return because the range of gluten free options was so good, but I think I will choose the lighter lunch options so I am not overwhelmed by the portion size, and less battered food.