As the summer drew to an end in the UK, we were invited by my friend to take a couple days out of the hustle and bustle of London for some sea air and long dog walks on the beach. I was promised that there was an enormous Sainsbury’s close to where we would be staying in Rustington, West Sussex, and managed my expectations for much else in terms of gluten free food.
Unsurpisingly, Saturday night came around and the fatigue from the day’s outdoor activities left no one with any energy to rustle up a meal. I did what I never usually do and allowed a restaurant to be chosen without taking a glance at the menu myself and just went along with the plan. I knew (or hoped) that in the worst-case scenario, a steak or grilled fish with salad could most probably be conjured.
Our taxi pulled up to The Spotted Cow – a charming, country pub in the heart of Angmering village. We were led through the bar to the cosy dining room where the tables were covered in white linen and decked with candles. Immediately presented with the regular menu, I held my breath as I asked the waitress what, if any, my gluten free options would be. Within a flash, she had been and gone and placed a gluten free menu in my hands. Utterly gobsmacked at my immense luck, I perused the menu which had options for all three courses, including fresh fried seafood.
Within 30 seconds I had set my sights on gluten free fish and chips for a main course and so opted for the pub’s fresh soup of the day with fluffy, toasted gluten free bread on the side. A warming bowl of tomato and basil soup arrived and served as a good stomach liner for the fried indulgence I was about to experience.
The fish arrived, dominating much of the long dinner plate. The batter was light-coloured, piping hot and had extra crunch when I broke a piece off the end of the fillet to test the texture. The helpful waitress told me that the batter was made with a gluten free flour blend, including tapioca and rice flour which gave what can usually be quite heavy and greasy, a lighter, crunchier feel. The chips served on the side were large cut and crispy but of course my main focus in this case was the fish which conquered me about half way through. I have heard many with gluten allergies and coeliac disease describe just how unaccustomed their bodies have become to heavy food and I totally sympathise. In this case however, I was truly upset I could not finish given the kitchen at The Spotted Cow had got the taste and texture of the battered fish spot on.
Desserts were definitely available on the gluten free menu including a selection of local ice cream flavours, but, I was in no position to eat any more after two delicious courses. I would like to say next time I will choose something else for a main, but after that batter I can’t make any promises! A charming and reasonably priced restaurant, The Spotted Cow is a must visit for any seaside adventurers in search of a good feed at lunch or dinnertime.
The Spotted Cow
1 High Street, Angmering
Tel: 01903 783919
(Tables bookable over the phone or via the pub website)