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Restaurant review: Tipputs Inn

PUBLISHED: 12:31 25 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:31 25 July 2013

There’s a British classic menu, but I want to try the Southern Indian Moggu dishes...

There’s a British classic menu, but I want to try the Southern Indian Moggu dishes...

Archant

Fresh from stalking Peter Andre and pretending to be an academic, Katie sets off to Tipputs to see if the Southern Indian menu is an imposter. It’s certainly not

So, Ian and I are sitting in a random pub, with a carpet that would scare horses, listening to a budgie talk. It’s hard to make out what the budgie is saying, but it’s definitely ranting. There’s a plastic budgie with which it’s co-habiting, which has clearly said something deeply offensive about the original budgie’s mother; it’s not a happy relationship. Ian’s grandmother used to have a budgie (called Joey, on the same principle by which all dogs are called Ben, all Scottish cottages are called Dunroamin, and all Triumph Heralds are called Gerald).

Perhaps it’s the budgie-memory; perhaps it’s the carpet. But we’re suddenly swamped by a wave of Things We Regret. Things that, had we a time machine, we’d unquestionably hasten to wipe from existence. Near the top of Ian’s list comes donning a long red wig for a fancy dress party, which unexpectedly turned him into his sister, Carrol. My own regrets – I have a few – show an imagination and quality missing from many people’s faux pas.

***

Regrets involving Peter Andre

I’m baffled, yet proud, to possess a personal regret involving a reality TV star. The other week, on one of my rare visits to London, I lose Paddington Station, which doesn’t appear to be where I left it. As I hasten in a vaguely train-related direction, I pass someone so unnaturally tanned I involuntarily stare. In the same way that rats and snakes knew to flee Helice before an earthquake struck in 373 BC, the primitive part of brain sends out a warning that this is, in fact, Peter Andre. He clocks my staring and smiles, in the sort of way you’d smile at a deranged, middle-aged fan. I debate shouting, “I’m not a fan. It was an accidental stare” but realise this would sound both truthful and rude (Trude? I may have invented an interesting new word). Two minutes later, I clock that every step is taking me inexorably further from my train, which leaves in three minutes. So I turn 180 degrees and flee back at gallop-pace towards Peter Andre. He, hearing madly approaching footsteps, turns to see me apparently re-descending on him with an insane enthusiasm not seen since the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show. As his eyes widen in horror, I want to shout, “It’s not you I’m after. It’s my train” but this would seem trude. So I content myself with haring up to him, smiling terrifyingly, then haring past him in a scene that could have replaced Glenn Close boiling rabbits.

***

Regrets involving academia

Ellie wants to go to a highly academic conference on Women in Victorian Literature at Warwick University. “I’d drive you,” I say generously, ‘but I don’t want to have to wait around for five hours.” “Book yourself in, too,” Ellie says. “It’s free, includes lunch, and there’ll be so many people there that no one’s going to know you’re not a learned professor of English literature.” This fiendishly clever plan works right up to the moment when I walk into Room 1.15 and find myself one of only 14 earnest-looking people sitting round a table. “Right,” says the conference organiser. “Let’s introduce ourselves and explain what we can each bring to this conference.”

***

Je ne regrette rien much

Regrets banished, I want to sing the praises of every local business from the rooftops, because they work so hard and are wonderful. And the Cotswold Food Club, a series of pubs run by Nick and Christophe, is wonderful. I’ve eaten extremely well, particularly at the Old Fleece in Rooksmoor, where I regularly dine as part of a group of novelists and pretend that magazine-writing counts too. I do have a mini regret, which lies in picking a Sunday night to visit their Tipputs Inn, high up on the Bath Road outside Nailsworth. What looks (when I crane my neck) like the restaurant-proper is closed, so we eat in the bar, next to itinerant children who vocalise their belief that the world has treated them badly. And bar service is not restaurant service, but there you go.

Anyway, on to the food: there’s a British classic menu, but I want to try the Southern Indian Moggu dishes, recreated by chef Tony Benedict, who hails from the Chettinad province. A huge bonus is that – unlike many Indian restaurants – the menu isn’t the size of A Suitable Boy. Ian and I share a special mezze – fish, lamb roll, chicken, bhaji and pappadum – which is nice but seems reasonably recreatable from Tesco. (My ignorance, maybe.) The highlight for me, however, is a chicken and spinach curry – not your wham-bam Indian dish but a gorgeously subtle series of flavours, served with clumpy rice. It’s excellent and Ian should have gone Indian too, but picked the turbot, which unexcites him. Again, my dessert is from the Moggu menu, a carrot halwa made from carrots, milk, sugar and ghee – delicious – and much envied by Ian.

It’s another of those meals which divides us. Ian says he’d rather have gone to Oldstone’s for the same price (£80-ish for two, with wine and coffee); I regret the lack of atmosphere and rather pubby service but enjoy the food. Next time, I’d ask if the restaurant part was open. Apart from that, je ne regrette rien much. n

*******

Tipputs Inn, Bath Road, Nailsworth GL6 0QE; 01453 832466: www.food-club.com

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