The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

We had to drop our son off to a music event in Wellington and rather than spend all day mooching about we decided to go for a nice lunch somewhere close to the Devon/Somerset border. We googled places to go and The Culm Valley Inn looked like a nice place to visit (The Culm Valley Inn). It’s situated just off the A38 between Wellington and Tiverton and thus met our criteria of being close to Wellington and yet still in Devon so we could write about it!

The pub itself was really nice and quirky. A combination of old, traditional beams with scrubbed wooden tables and floors but newly decorated in quite a shabby chic style. It was fairly busy on a Sunday lunchtime, with what seemed to be a large proportion of lively, friendly locals – always a good sign.

I had booked and informed the pub that I was a coeliac. I was assured that catering for me wouldn’t be a problem and to let the staff know when I arrived that I would require a gluten free meal. However, when we arrived, this obviously hadn’t been noted on my booking. So, we were pointed to the menu of the day which was up on a blackboard. I asked the server, who I assume with hindsight was the landlady, what I could eat. Her very flippant reply was “Anything on the board”. I’m afraid sarcasm overtook me – especially when I’m hungry! – and so I replied, “Well obviously not everything as the bread & olives aren’t gluten free and neither are scotch eggs.” “Well I’m sure the gravy for the roast beef is gluten free – would you like me to check with chef?” I then quite firmly told her how important and serious it was and yes please do.

This wasn’t a good start! However, she came back and confirmed that yes the roast could be made gluten free by omitting the Yorkshire puds (do they not know that cornflour Yorkies are soooooo much nicer than normal?) and I could have either a beetroot, walnut & feta salad, scallops or moules for starter. Not being a fishy person I ordered the salad and the roast. Hubby ordered rabbit & chorizo scotch eggs…..poor thumper…….to start and a Portuguese fish stew for main.

We sat down and I enjoyed a very nice chilled house white, whilst hubby had the local cider – Sandford Orchards. He said that it was really nice – not fizzy like some ciders can be.

Starters at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

Beetroot, walnut & feta salad for starter at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Beetroot, walnut & feta salad for starter at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
The starters didn’t take long to arrive, but long enough for us to relax into our seats and enjoy the time together. I do hate being rushed when I go out to eat and the pub handled the timings perfectly. The presentation of the food was excellent. My starter looked (and tasted) beautiful.
Rabbit, chorizo scotch egg for starter at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Rabbit, chorizo scotch egg for starter at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Hubby said his scotch egg on celeriac mayo was amazing – yeah he can keep that one to himself!

Main course at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

We were both so very impressed with the starters that we couldn’t wait for the mains to come. When it did it was fab! The vegetables were all cooked to perfection and, dare I say it, the red cabbage was actually better than my mother in law’s traditional Hungarian signature red cabbage! Hubby’s Portuguese stew was served in a metal saucepan and there were great big chunks of cod, mussels, prawns and chorizo……all in a Mediterranean-style tomato sauce.

Portuguese fish stew for main course at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Portuguese fish stew for main course at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
He was blown away by it. Not only did it stay hot throughout him eating, but he, who trust me can eat for England, Hungary and the rest of Europe, was actually defeated. It was supplied with bread, but he only ate about half of it.

Roast beef for main course at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Roast beef for main course at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
My beef was very well cooked and a huge slab of it was served to me! When I was finished, I also had left some….well we did have to save some room for pudding…..so I did the very undignified thing and asked for a doggy bag. I knew my son would be starving after his all day course, so a roast beef sandwich would be perfect for him to tide him over! Still – it would only be wasted.

During our meal a man came over to us selling tickets for a meat raffle. Initially we didn’t think that we would still be there when the raffle was drawn so we declined, but as time went on, we realised we would be and so purchased a strip of tickets. When it was time for the draw, everyone congregated outside in the car park. As numbers were shouted out I am so pleased we didn’t win anything, because if you weren’t a local, when you went to collect your winnings everyone – and I mean everyone – shouted out “STRANGER DANGER!” All in good humour obviously.

Desserts at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

Blackberry Eton mess for dessert at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Blackberry Eton mess for dessert at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

Anyway we checked out the desserts. The gluten free choices were creme brulee, blackberry Eton mess or a selection of home made ice-creams. We chose the Eton mess to share and it was so lovely. The meringue was chewy on the inside and yet crunchy on the outside, but not powdery – if that makes any sense at all. The blackberries were huge and just perfectly ripe.

Espresso coffee at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock
Espresso coffee at The Culm Valley Inn, Culmstock

I had to finish off with a coffee (always a coffee snob!) and again I wasn’t disappointed. A proper espresso.

All in all, after a shaky start, I would heartily recommend. The waiting staff were helpful and left just the right amount of time between courses – I didn’t feel rushed at all, despite how busy they were. But the food…..the food was just amazing. All very well cooked, well presented and very tasty.

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday: 12–3pm, 5–11pm, Friday to Sunday: 12-11pm.
Gluten free friendly: Lots of gluten free options – just not advertised.
Child friendly: Children and babies are very welcome.
Disabled access: The toilets weren’t easily accessible.
Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome in the bar.

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