Horse & Jockey, Curbridge with allergies – 8.5/10

I was lucky enough to judge the lovely Horse and Jockey pub in Curbridge near Southampton recently for the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards so I was delighted to see that they did really well, getting highly commended in the Pub Restaurant category.

My aunt, who lives in Eastleigh was delighted to be invited along for a meal out and so we went out in search of The Horse and Jockey, a small country pub set on the side of a river in the countryside. Luckily Joy even knew roughly where it was which made it easy to find in the dark. I would love to return in daylight and visit the local nature reserve or explore the local countryside to work up an appetite for the delicious pub grub.

I had booked in my aunts name in an effort to go ‘incongnito’. Last year I suspected that the restaurants I judged had sussed that I was their judge. I wasn’t sure at the Horse & Jockey as I do have to declare my rather long list of allergies. I wonder if they had twigged that I was going to be really testing them?

They will be pleased to know, all those nuts, dairy, wheat, soya, tomato, celery, kidney beans and broad beans that needed to be avoided… were REAL allergies. We enjoyed a brilliant meal in a lovely, warm, cosy country pub and we would both love to return again without the fear of giving the game away and pretending not to know too much about allergen catering.

Excellent freefrom food options available

To start off with I had the chilli king prawns. Let’s just say that luckily, both the chef and I love chilli because this packed quite a punch. The only disappointing thing was the gluten free bun. They could have just left that off and I wouldn’t have missed it. The roll was edible but a bit dry and only one half was soft, the other a bit stale and hard. I did try to eat some as I never like to waste food but it was actually not necessary with this delicious starter. If you’re going to serve gluten free bread make sure it’s really good – otherwise just don’t bother.

 Crisp, fresh king prawn  and chilli salad - dairy, nut, celery, tomato, soya  and wheat free

Crisp, fresh king prawn and chilli salad

For our main meals both Joy and I went for the special fish dish. It was the most amazing sea bream I’ve ever tasted I think. So fresh and delicate and simply cooked – the taste of the fish just shone through. It was also served on a VERY hot plate – I do like my food served on a hot plate so top marks for that often overlooked but very necessary part of the dining experience.

Mine came with simple plain veg, just as I ordered it and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. If you can eat dairy you would have been served a lovely creamy sauce. Joy enjoyed the sauce too but said that the fish was just so perfect on its own she only used a little bit. She went so far as to say the bream tasted better by far than a very well known fish restaurant she had visited recently.

The most amazing sea bream I've ever tasted - dairy, wheat, celery, nut, soya and tomato free

The most amazing sea bream I’ve ever tasted – dairy, wheat, celery, nut, soya and tomato free

They even managed to rustle up a delightfully colourful Eton mess pudding for me which I just about managed to fit in. The fruit was lovely and juicy and fresh and the blackcurrant sorbet (I think that was the flavour) was just so tasty. I loved it.

Fresh fruit eton mess with blackcurrant sorbet and raspberry couli

Fresh fruit eton mess with blackcurrant sorbet and raspberry couli

All in all we had a very enjoyable evening. We shared a bottle of wine and took half the bottle home with us to have when we got home. The staff were very knowledgeable about allergens and went through the whole menu with me both on the phone when booking and again on arrival to make sure I was satisfied with my choice.

They made us both, and especially me, the fussy one, feel very welcome and not at all like I was being awkward. They mentioned that they had done allergen catering training and this really put me at ease and they clearly knew the menu inside out.

One final thing to note are the toilets. The loos in this pub were outstanding and I am very glad I paid them a visit. I do like a nice pub toilet – a grotty one can really detract from the whole experience.

Will I be visiting again? Most definitely yes. Will I be taking Aunty Joy? Most definitely yes. Next time I think we’ll take our walking boots and explore. You up for that Joy?

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

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