Restaurant review by Hannah Richardson
Eating out can be a real headache if you or one of your party needs to follow a gluten-free diet.
I know, there’s been tremendous progress made in recent years, with many of the massive restaurant chains now offering gluten-free options on their menus.
But if you yearn for less mass-market fare, finding a local pub or restaurant that understands the concept of gluten free, and can cater for it, can be fraught with uncertainty and disappointment.
So when I was given the chance during Coeliac Awareness Week to taste test a meal at a pub restaurant belonging to a small chain that prides itself on its gluten- free offering, I jumped at the chance.
Just half an hour from Banbury and Bicester, The Cotswold Gateway hotel, in Burford, is one of 45 Coeliac UK-accredited managed house pubs belonging to Devises-based pub operator and family brewer Wadworth.
Not only does it have a full Gluten Free Menu, but it also serves the brewery’s very own gluten-free beer.
We turned up on a Sunday lunchtime and were seated in the very comfortable bar area, as there was a large party in the dining room, and ordered a bottle of the 6X Gold, gluten-free golden ale, which turned out to be very tasty indeed.
Handed the extensive Gluten Free Menu, I found myself in the very rare position of being spoilt for choice, with five choices of starters and eight main courses, all of them gluten free.
But as it was Sunday lunchtime, I was irresistibly drawn to ask if the Sunday roast could also be served gluten free.
I was assured I could have either the beef or the duck, and opted for the roast beef, which came with all the components except the Yorkshire pudding.
It was a huge and hearty meal full of intense, savoury flavours – generous slices of roast beef served with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, tender carrot batons, tangy red cabbageand leeks in a creamy sauce. And, joy of joys, the whole lot was doused in a generous serving of Chef’s Homemade Gravy – rich, thick and satisfying, and without any of the texture issues or bitter aftertaste so often associated with gluten-free gravies.
How other diners also managed to put away the gigantic Yorkshire pudding I saw perched on top of their roast dinners, I’ll never know – but they did.
My companion opted for a much lighter main course, of chicken breast stuffed with spinach and Applewood cheese wrapped in pancetta, served with a white wine and mushroom sauce. This too was delicious, and as different from my meal as possible, full of subtle flavours. It came with potato rosti, green beans, asparagus and pea shoots, all very fresh and springlike and extremely tasty.
The pudding menu was less extensive, offering a choice of just three desserts or ice cream. The chocolate brownie was unavailable, and I didn’t fancy the Baileys & espresso brulee, so we opted to share a sticky toffee pudding served with caramel ice cream, and a cheese board.
The sticky toffee pudding was a triumph – warm, moist and melt-in-the-mouth delicious – one of the best puddings I’ve ever eaten.
The cheese board was less of a success. The menu described a ‘selection of local cheese’, so I was hoping for something a bit special. What arrived, however, was an uninspiring and not very nice trio of Brie, Stilton and Cheddar. According to our waitress, only the Cheddar was local.
What a shame that the cheese board let the restaurant down, when it should have rounded off what was otherwise a magnificent meal, and I really hope they get this sorted for the future.
Nonetheless, The Cotswold Gateway is definitely on my list for a return visit.
It was a rare find, and there’s another portion of sticky toffee pudding with my name on it – and this time I’m having a bowl to myself!