Restaurant review: The Amberley Inn
PUBLISHED: 11:01 11 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:09 11 August 2014
Katie Jarvis thinks the Amberley Inn deserves lots of support, but why did she have to dance for a basket of gluten-free goodies?
Ellie has her degree results: a First! In English! Yes, yes - I know it’s irritating when people show off about their progenies’ achievements but that’s so not what I want to do. Rather, I explain to the family, this seems an entirely appropriate time to focus on the things that really matter – like the fact that it was I who thrust a copy of War and Peace into Ellie’s clutching fists the second she made an appearance in the delivery room. (Resulting in her being able to point to the kitten on every page of the Usborne book at 10 months, I like to think.) It was I who nurtured her ambitions. (Calling a helpline for parents of gifted children when she sat up, unaided, for a few seconds at three months old. Fortunately, it was engaged.) It was I who stimulated her intellect at four years old with my interesting theories about Paddington possibly being representative of the Nihilistic Movement, prompted by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. And, later, in an empowering feminist stance, about George Eliot maybe being a girl.
“But hang on, mum,” says Ed, “am I not right in thinking you only got a 2:1 in your degree?” Just then, this amazing seagull zooms past. “Look!” I yell. “Did you see that seagull zoom? ‘Zoom’ in the sense of normal speed but, blimey, you don’t often see seagulls away from seaside towns. Apart from when you do, of course.”
“What,” says Ed, “are you on about?”
So we look for a place to celebrate by googling ‘gluten-free, Gloucestershire’ and come up almost instantly with the Amberley Inn, a restaurant serendipitously just up the road from us. (Keep up – I’ve already told you about Ellie being diagnosed coeliac elsewhere in the magazine.) “Incidentally our kitchen is one of very few that use only gluten-free flour!” the website says, somewhat jocularly (the exclamation mark) yet also reassuringly.
And so we plonk ourselves down in this charming 19th century inn, overlooking the outskirts of Minchinhampton Common, and chat about my own undoubtedly-inspiring educational achievements. “But, mum,” says Ed, “didn’t Ellie actually get far better ‘A’ level grades than you?” Just then, this incredible Ford Focus drives past the window, sprayed a really conventional shade of silver, yet worth pointing out in indefinable ways. “Do you see that!?!” I shriek. “What?” says everyone. “See what?” “Are you insane in the head?” asks Ed.
The menu is excellent in terms of clearly-marked gluten-free options – hoorah! - highly unusual for anything other than a chain restaurant. So we order breaded whitebait, paté, Parma ham and figs, and a duck salad; followed by a steak and lamb rump for the boys, while Ellie chooses a gluten-free chicken supreme and I a gluten-free fish and chips, because we both have to be so careful. I can only eat quite a large amount of wheat myself before getting a feeling there’s a chance it might be affecting me in various ways impossible to detect. And I was once allergic to a mushroom.
We order bread at £1.25, which a waitress brings in promptly. And then gives to a bemused couple at a neighbouring table.
“Did you order bread?” she asks.
“No,” they reply, bemusedly. (I did tell you.)
I try strongly to indicate through the silent medium of dance (it’s a quiet restaurant) that it was, in fact, our table which ordered the bread. I begin with a gentle movement, (Margot Fonteyn, Swan Lake) but this has little effect on anyone except the rest of the restaurant, who watch, mesmerised. So I move on to Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing, before being forced into the full John Travolta Saturday Night Fever strut. The waitress, meanwhile, determinedly holds her head at the only angle at which it’s not possible to see my increasingly-energetic movements – a carefully calculated 47.32 degrees – before announcing to the bemused couple, “Well, have it anyway.”
The food is fine; small restaurants such as this, which use fantastic local suppliers, need lots of support. But somewhat disappointingly and puzzlingly, the bread basket – when we finally get one - is packed with gluten, even though Ellie has indicated her dietary restrictions; the waitress has to be asked to bring a gluten-free alternative. And far, far worse: when Ellie orders gluten-free ice cream, it comes with two proud wafers. “Great!” she says (as well she might). “It’s a while since I’ve been able to eat wafers.” But, just to be utterly, utterly sure, she checks first. The waitress toddles off to chat with the chef – and returns, casually, to say the wafers are, in fact, not gluten-free so she’ll change the ice cream. What?? No big apology or intake of breath? Hmm.
Thank goodness I choose the wheat-free rhubarb with a rolled oats and walnut crumble, bearing in mind all my problems.
“Just a minute, mum,” says Ed. “Didn’t you also have a coeliac test, which came back negative?”
Children. They’re so picky.
• Ambience 7
• Service 5
• Food 6
• Value for money 6
The Amberley Inn hotel, bar and restaurant, is at Culver Hill, Amberley, Stroud GL5 5AF.
Tel: 01453 872565
This article by Katie Jarvis is from the August 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.
For more from Katie, follow her on Twitter: @katiejarvis
Our restaurant reviews are completely independent. Katie arrives unannounced and pays for her meal.