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Eating Out | A Gluten Free Guide to Prague

By Lucy.

 

This year I turned 30, so to celebrate, my boyfriend and I decided to plan a trip away to Prague.

Before doing any research I had imagined eating out in The Czech Republic as a coeliac vegetarian to be a bit of a struggle, and I was braced for little to no choice. Luckily for me, and anyone else planning on visiting, there was plenty to choose from and I didn’t go hungry once. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten better whilst abroad.

After some googling and scouring Trip Advisor I had a small list of places I wanted to try, but was surprised by how many other great restaurants we discovered while we were there. I should imagine there are plenty more gems to be found, but here are my favourites.

 

White and Crispy

 

White and Crispy is an entirely gluten free pizzeria and bakery located outside of the main tourist areas in Prague. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Charles bridge, but close to plenty of tram stops and you won’t regret making the effort to visit. We ate here twice during our short stay because everything was absolutely delicious – it’s worth the trip to Prague for the pizza alone! The base was thin and crisp, and the toppings fresh and tasty – if you’ve ever been disappointed with the tiny size of GF pizzas at home, this is the restaurant for you.

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Between us, we tried the Margherita, the Vegetariana and the Quattro Formaggi, the latter of which was a white pizza without tomato sauce. All three were amazing, and the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever eaten. The owners are Italian and very friendly, everything’s homemade with fresh ingredients. I also tried the tiramisu and a little creamy cake which were both fantastic.

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The atmosphere was casual, it’s a tiny little shop with very limited seating, but the pizzas can all be taken away if there isn’t room inside. They also sell bread and pasta, I bought some spaghetti but haven’t had chance to try it out yet.

It was a total bargain given the quality. If you’re ever in Prague, this is one restaurant you must not miss.

 

Alriso Risotteria Italiana

 

Alriso is another entirely gluten free Italian restaurant, but a lot closer to the centre of Prague this time. I was so excited to try this place, and it didn’t disappoint at all – we ended up here twice as it was so good!

Inside it’s a small intimate restaurant, with excellent and attentive staff. It was busy both evenings and had a cosy and romantic atmosphere.

There were fewer vegetarian options, but still enough choice that it was difficult to decide what to try. I opted for tomato and mozzarella gnocchi one evening, and spinach and gorgonzola risotto the next, which were delicious and I would recommend them both. My boyfriend, who isn’t gluten free, raved about both of his meals, which I do have to admit, did look very good.

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Once we’d ordered we were brought a paper bag with some gluten free bread inside, and some olive oil to dip it in, which was a wonderful surprise. It had a dense and cakey texture and tasted great. These little touches are what made the experience so special, as I usually have to miss out on this sort of thing at home because of a lack of choice or risk of cross contamination.

For dessert, between us, we tried the chocolate fondant, tiramisu and panna cotta, but the tiramisu stole the show – it was perfectly and creamy and had a wonderful coffee flavour.

For three courses each, and a bottle of Prosecco, Alriso worked out at around £30 a head, which, considering how much we enjoyed the great food and service, was a total bargain. It was the most expensive restaurant we ate at during our stay, but was absolutely worth it.

 

Lavande

 

Lavande was one of a few restaurants we discovered during our stay, when looking for somewhere to eat during the day. They have an a la carte menu for the evenings, and a specials menu for lunch, which changes daily. The menu and specials were clearly marked, with vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free options available.

The staff were very friendly and the service was great, the restaurant was modern, bright and airy, and had a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

I had the halloumi burger on a gluten free bun, which was a real treat, served with salad. It was great, and my boyfriend enjoyed his beef special very much too.

If we ever return to Prague I would love to visit Lavande for an evening meal. It was busy during the day however, so it might be worth booking a table if you have your heart set on a particular evening.

 

Vegan’s

 

We discovered Vegan’s by accident while on the way to Prague Castle. We were both worn out from a long day of walking and sightseeing and wanted somewhere to stop for a drink.

Located at the top of three flights of stairs, Vegan’s is a light and airy restaurant covering two floors. It also has an open terrace, which looks out over the rooftops of Prague, which was lovely, but a little chilly for the time of year we were there.

I hadn’t planned on eating, but once I saw the menu I knew I couldn’t leave without trying something.  The gluten free options were clearly marked and there was so much choice it was hard to pick! I was tempted by the guacamole and crackers, and the marinated peppers filled with aubergine, but in the end I went for the tofu burger, which was served on top of a potato gratin with pickled cabbage and rocket. This was my first experience in a vegan restaurant, and I was blown away by how delicious everything was, and I was so pleased I gave it a try.

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I also tried the homemade raspberry lemonade, which was filled with fresh crushed raspberries, which was a lovely accompaniment to the meal and very refreshing. This is another restaurant I’d love to re-visit if given the chance, and I think it would be a great setting for a romantic meal.

 

Svejk Restaurant U Karla

 

Svejk Restaurant U Karla specialises in traditional Czech cuisine, which I wanted to try as most of the other eateries we visited during our stay were European. They have a separate gluten free menu, which you have to ask for, and serve gluten free beer – which is a necessity if you’re visiting Prague!

The dining area is a large and open, with dark wood and traditional Czech décor.

The menu doesn’t have a huge amount of choice if you’re vegetarian, but I opted for the fried cheese, served with chips and tartar sauce, which was great. I’m a sucker for anything gluten free fried in breadcrumbs or batter because it’s not something I can be bothered to cook at home so it’s a real treat. The chips especially were delicious. I also tried a side of Czech dumplings as I was curious to see what they were like. They were soft, comforting and very filling – I practically had to be rolled home!

My carnivorous boyfriend had the chicken schnitzel, which he really enjoyed. We both loved the sauerkraut, which came with our meals, I’m not usually a fan of cabbage, but it was delicious and I’m pleased I got to try something new.

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Neither of us had any room left for a dessert, which was a shame as they had quite a few gluten free options, including pancakes and an apple strudel!

The service was attentive, but a little brusque, I wouldn’t let that put you off though, as the food was great and we had a really enjoyable evening in this part of town.

 

Overall I was really pleased with the amount and variety of gluten free food in Prague, I found a lot of the cafes and coffee shops had cakes available, which was a lovely surprise, and almost all of the servers spoke very good English. I didn’t feel limited by my diet once.

I’d love to visit again one day, Prague is an exciting and vibrant city with so much to do, and so much wonderful food to eat!

 

About Lucy

Lucy is a contributing author at The Gluten Free Veggie. She is a 30 year old vegetarian Coeliac with a passion for great recipes! Check out all of her posts here. When she’s not cooking up delicious treats, Lucy is creating greetings cards for her business. Check out her Facebook page here.

 

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

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Eating Out | List of the UK’s 100% Gluten Free Eateries

Please note: it is possible for me to update this list. If you know any of any 100% gluten free eateries that aren’t on the list please contact me with the details. I am aware of the existence of The Coeliac Plate who do a fantastic job documenting 100% gluten free eateries. I hope you can see that I have not tried to copy them – all the research done for this blog post was off my own back.

I’ve been working on compiling a list of the UK’s 100% gluten free eateries for over a year now, with help from the good folks on the Facebook group “Coeliacs in the UK”. It’s taken lots of research to get it to this point but I’m aware that this is far from comprehensive! I aim to keep updating this list as much as I can! Please note that this list only includes eateries with a permanent location (so companies that only appear at market stalls are not on here, for example.) Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause, but it was for brevity as much as for the clarity of information provided.

These are the places we can eat safely with no fear of cross contamination. For someone with Coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, this is a BIG deal. Being able to feel normal, feel safe and feel catered for are rarities for Coeliacs eating out, but not in these fantastic and dedicated places.

So here they are, categorised geographically by country and then alphabetically by county. See the map below for where these places are in relation to each other. Apologies if my geography is a bit off – I’ve listed links to all of their websites so you can find their addresses anyway! Anywhere that I have reviewed has been linked to – I hope to review the majority of them eventually!

England

Berkshire

purple Nibsy’s Cafe (Reading) – See my review here.

Greater Manchester

pink Tea 42 MCR (Manchester)

Hampshire

light blue The Compass Inn (Winsor)

leafy-green Offbeet Food (Wickham)

Kent

dark blue Oscar and Bentley’s (Canterbury) – See my review here.

London

light green Beyond Bread (Fitzrovia) – See my review here.

orange Artisan Gluten Free Bakery (Islington) – See my review here.

red La Polenteria (Soho) – See my review here.

yellow Niche Food and Drink (Islington) – See my review here.

 

 

Norfolk

turq Cafe Jungle (Old Cotessey, nr. Norwich)

dark-green The Gluten Free Shop & Cafe (Norwich)

Somerset

light-purple Cafe Nouveau (Frome)

yellowy-brown Chirpy Cottage (Martock)

Yorkshire

brown 2 Oxford Place (Leeds)

dark-orange El Piano (York)

 

Scotland

Lothian

dark-purple Grams (Edinburgh)

really-dark-blue Moon and Hare (Edinburgh)

light-yellow Tupiniquim (Edinburgh)

dark-pink Sugar Daddy’s Bakery (Edinburgh)

 

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Eating Out | Review | La Polenteria, London

Please read the end of the review for my star rating and conclusion.

La Polenteria is a 100% gluten free restaurant in Soho, London. My boyfriend and I visited for dinner after a day out in London visiting the British Library and Oxford Street.

La Polenteria is the first 100% gluten free Italian restaurant in the UK and they use polenta as the basis for most of their dishes (if not all).

I’m not entirely sure where to start with this one so I’ll just say this – we were VERY impressed with this place. For a start, I tweeted them asking if they could cater to my dietary requirements (as you may know I’m GF, vegetarian and can’t eat alliums due to IBS, which makes life a little tricky at times). They responded almost straight away:

la polen

I was tentatively optimistic with this response, and pleased at how quickly and pleasantly they had replied.

When we arrived I informed the waiter of my various dietary requirements and the manager came over to talk me through the menu. He went through every dish and told me which ones were suitable and where possible which ones he could change to make suitable for me. I was delighted with the choice on offer – with the three limiting dietary requirements that I have, I’m quite used to having only one choice even in a specialist gluten free restaurant!

I opted for a polenta, fried egg, scamorza cheese (a type of smoked cheese) and asparagus dish for a starter and sage and parmesan gnocchi for a main course.

My boyfriend chose a spicy poached egg and fried polenta dish for a starter and the pasta with cheese for a main course (he kindly chose a main that was also suitable for me so that I could try some!)

We were both blown away by our starters.

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I’ve had polenta before, but this was completely different. It had a beautiful creamy texture (the best way I can describe it as somewhere between mashed potato and risotto rice, but it’s too unique to directly compare to either of these) and the taste perfectly complemented the other elements of the dish. I’ve never had truffle oil OR asparagus before so this really was a new taste sensation for me – and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

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My boyfriend was similarly impressed with his starter. His poached egg was served with a garlic and tomato sauce with courgettes and polenta croutons. The poached egg was delicate, not overdone, the croutons and sauce were deliciously flavoured and he even ate all of the courgettes (he HATES courgettes normally, despite me trying to encourage him to eat them 😉 ).

 

Both were beautifully presented, and although presentation has very little bearing on my opinion of a restaurant, it showed the extra care and love that they put into their food. Considering the quality of the starters they weren’t as expensive as you might think – £6.95 for mine, and £6.50 for my boyfriend’s. Considering the last time I was at high street Italian chain Pizza Express they charged me £5.50 for their starter of a ball of mozzarella with some pesto and tomatoes, La Polenteria’s prices are not as high as you might expect for a specialist independent London restaurant that caters for most dietary requirements. We were certainly impressed with this; being students we were a little worried that this one meal out might break the bank a bit, but it worked out at about £23 each (including VAT) for a three course meal (bear in mind we only had tap water).

After such delicious starters we were excited to see what the mains would be like.

La Polenteria make their own gluten free pasta, so as I expected, the pasta was not dry and chewy like gluten free pasta often can be. We ordered it with a creamy cheese sauce made of Gorgonzola. It was simply done, but the taste was incredible – perfect comfort food.

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As much as we both loved the dish, we agreed that a vegetarian version of their bolognese would have been perfect with this pasta – even just a simple tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella (of course I’m biased as I can’t eat onions or garlic! 😉 ). This is personal taste ONLY, and I will definitely be asking for this dish again when we return (oh yes, we WILL be returning!!).

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The gnocchi dish was a unique experience. I had gluten gnocchi as a child (before diagnosis) and was always sceptical about it – it was very heavy and tasteless. This polenta gnocchi was the complete opposite. Although filling, it didn’t have the horrible heavy texture that I remembered from “normal” gnocchi. The flavours were also perfect – truffle, cheese and sage. Again, the prices of these dishes were very reasonable when you consider the location and speciality of the restaurant – £12.00 for the pasta and £11.00 for the gnocchi. It may be slightly pricier than a typical meal out for us, but comparing again to Pizza Express, we normally pay a minimum of £10.00 each for a gluten free pizza (depending on the toppings).

I think, for me at least, dessert was the highlight of this meal, partly because it was the first time I’ve had cheesecake since being diagnosed! Oh how I’ve missed it! The waiter asked me if I’d like it with strawberry or chocolate and when I paused he added “or both?” to which I replied yes, definitely both!

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It was light, not sickly sweet, and the chocolate and strawberry worked perfectly together. I’ll be dreaming about this cheesecake until we’re able to make another trip to London!

I also think it’s worth commenting on the service. Lots of eateries have quite cold staff, who just see serving as a job (understandable as I know it’s not easy job, having worked in similar environments) but La Polenteria’s staff were happily an exception to this rule. As I said earlier the manager ran through the menu with us, but we were also served by a waiter and a waitress who supplied our drinks. Nothing was too much trouble, they were all very friendly and approachable and we were very happy with our service.

As for the feel of the restaurant itself, like most London eateries it was small, which is pretty much unavoidable for an independent place. Having said that we certainly weren’t cramped or being forced to overhear everyone else’s dinner conversation. As it was a Saturday night it was very busy, and every table was filled, yet still we had space to breath. The decor was subtle and the room felt very comfortable. Unlike Beyond Bread (review here) they were toilets, which we both found to be clean and even featured these brilliant little signs that gave us a chuckle:

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After such a glowing review I feel I should attempt to give some negatives, but I truly am struggling to think of any! So I thought it best to perhaps end on some suggestions instead. In terms of the range of food offered, we were very happy that I (with as many food issues as I have) was able to actually have a choice, but I also think that it would nice to see some other types of dishes on the menu. For example, I would be excited to see what a pizza with a polenta base would be like – delicious I imagine!

As for the pudding menu, there were only four choices – we both felt that a few more choices would have been a nice way to round off such a perfect meal – perhaps an ice cream or sorbet choice as a palette cleanser (although as I said I was ecstatic with my cheesecake).

You may have already guessed what star rating I will be giving La Polenteria.

★★★★★

5 out of 5 stars for safe dining for Coeliacs, accommodating staff and great customer service, unique and delicious food and a reasonably priced menu. I will be recommending it to anyone who will listen!

Website: http://www.lapolenteria.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaPolenteriaLondon/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/La_Polenteria

 

 

Eating Out | Review | Beyond Bread, London

Please read the end of the review for my star rating and conclusion.

Beyond Bread is a 100% gluten free cafe in Fitzrovia, London and is somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I first hear about it a year or so ago.

My boyfriend and I took a day trip to London to visit the British Library and do some sight seeing so we popped into Beyond Bread for lunch and La Polenteria for dinner (review here).

Facility-wise Beyond Bread is somewhat lacking – they are unfortunately quite small with limited indoor seating and a few seats outside (something which you can expect with high rent prices in London) meaning we had to stand and wait for a someone to leave before being able to sit down with our drinks. However, the main issue is that they have no customer toilets. This wasn’t an issue for us (despite travelling for around 45 mins to get there, we were able to wait until we went to the British Library to use their loos) but this could potentially be a big issue for someone with small children, an elderly person or someone with special needs. Although this is not the fault of Beyond Bread themselves, I felt this is something I needed to include so that people are aware of this before visiting.

The first thing to comment on about Beyond Bread is the range of food on offer. As well as being a cafe they are a bakery and so you can buy fresh bread (several types). There were “sub” sandwiches, toasties, quiches, soup and cakes on offer which gave us a comfortable range of choices, even for someone with as many dietary requirements as I have. Having said that, the toastie I had (Bad Hunter – mozzerella, pesto and roasted veg) was the only vegetarian sandwich on offer that day, so I would have liked to have seen a few more vegetarian/vegan options.

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“Bad Hunter” toastie – mozzerella, roasted peppers, roasted aubergine and homemade pesto.

The taste of the toastie pleasantly surprised me – aubergine is one of those very flavourless vegetables that people often hate, but the combination of veg and pesto made this toastie flavourful. Despite being toasted, it didn’t come to me as warm as I had expected, although the cafe was very busy that day so this may have been why.

I can’t make my mind up about the bread; unlike the usual supermarket brands of gluten free bread, there was no chance of this bread falling to pieces, meaning I could easily pick up my toastie. However, the texture was more like that of an English muffin and the bread itself had little flavour. For the price paid (£5.10!!), I was hoping for some bread with a little more wow-factor, though I was pleased to be able to eat it like a “normal” toastie.

My boyfriend opted for mushroom soup, which (although pricey at £4.75) impressed both of us. As my IBS makes me very sensitive to alliums (and this soup contained onions) I could only try a small amount. We both enjoyed the flavour and my boyfriend particularly loved the bread that came as a side. It was nice to see hot options available.

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I decided to try a chocolate and raspberry cake for afters, which certainly didn’t disappoint. I may be slightly biased on this (as chocolate and raspberry is my absolute favourite food combination) but it was delicious. The cake itself was thankfully very moist – gluten free cakes have a bad rap for being dry or crumbly, but this was neither. The cake was topped with a beautiful chocolate ganache and fresh berries. I would suspect this cake was made using mostly dark chocolate as the taste was light, rather than the cloying sickly chocolate taste that most supermarket or high street coffee chain chocolate cakes will have.

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My boyfriend had what turned about to be quite a disappointing chocolate muffin. Unlike my beautiful cake it was dry and rather tasteless, something which we were both very disappointed to have to agree on.

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I wouldn’t let this put you off having cake there – they offered a wide ranges of sweet options including a New York cheesecake which I want to try when we return to London!

To conclude, like all of the other 100% gluten free eateries I’ve reviewed, Beyond Bread shares that feeling of complete safety – no chance of being glutened! For that alone, they deserve brownie points! Although I can make a slight allowance for it being in London, the food was very expensive – fine for a treat, but for two students out for lunch it felt rather overpriced. I was pleased with the range on offer and the place has a nice atmosphere despite being small. This is somewhere I would definitely recommend if you live or work in London and can afford it.

★★★☆☆

3 out of 5 stars for safe gluten free eating, a good range of options but a few disappointing aspects and no toilets.

Website: http://www.beyondbread.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlutenFreeBeyondBreadBakery

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beyond_bread

 

 

Eating Out | Review | Oscar and Bentley’s, Canterbury

Please read the end of the review for my star rating and conclusion.

For the last three days, my boyfriend and I have been on a mini-break in Canterbury, Kent. Although it was not our main reason for visiting, I couldn’t possibly go all that way without going to Oscar and Bentley’s.

If you’ve not heard of Oscar and Bentley’s before, the first thing you need to know is that they are 100% gluten free and they won the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards’ “Restaurant” category in 2014. Whilst there are many 100% gluten free eateries in the UK now, Oscar and Bentley’s were one of the first and have really pioneered gluten free eating. The head chef dedicates his time to perfecting gluten free recipes and has a Facebook page and group especially for sharing them.

O and B’s is situated in a beautiful old building in the centre of Canterbury, not far from the Cathedral. They cater for all dietary requirements, with vegetarian/vegan and dairy free options on the menu.

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I’m a chef’s worst nightmare – coeliac, vegetarian and with several foods that I have to avoid due to IBS-D (onion and garlic are my worst trigger foods) – but I spoke to the manager in advance and they were very accommodating. Sarah, one of the owners, spoke to me before my first meal and went through what the chef could make me. I instantly felt at ease and happily had no flare ups during our trip (which as other IBS sufferers will know isn’t an easy task!)

The decor was beautiful – in keeping with Canterbury’s relaxed vibe. The toilet facilities were good and seating was available both upstairs and downstairs.

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We ate there four times during our stay, so the format of this post will be a little different to my usual reviews. Here is a list of some of the meals my boyfriend and I had during our visit and our thoughts, followed by my star rating.

Starters

Wild Mushroom Fricassee

As this dish had both onions and garlic in, I was not able to try it, but my boyfriend gave a rave review of this. This was actually his favourite dish – a creamy mushroom and spinach mix on a slice of garlic bread.

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Bread and Oil

This may seem self-evident but I decided to include it anyway because we loved it so much. The bread is homemade and was incredible. It’s rare to find a gluten free bread that manages to be soft and tasty – this bread was both and really impressed us.

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Light Bites and Sides

Chips

Being able to have proper fried chips is something I deeply miss, so I took full advantage of O and B’s delicious chips, having them with almost every meal. They were everything you would want from a chip – crispy on the outside, fluffy inside but not soggy. They really satisfied my craving.

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Three Egg Omelette

Buttery, fluffy and perfectly cooked, I really can find no fault with the omelette. We had this as both brunch and dinner.

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Brie Sandwich

For lunch I tried the Brie de Meaux bap. The brie was creamy and strong but the bun was the real star of the show. It was almost like Brioche, fluffy and sweet – proof that gluten free buns can be just as good as “normal” ones.

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Mains

Italian Frittata 

I was not expecting this to be so large, so I was pleasantly surprised. The frittata has goat’s cheese, spinach, red pepper and new potatoes in it and was delicious. I love goat’s cheese and so this was probably my favourite dish.

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Mushroom Risotto

Again the risotto unfortunately had onions in it, but my boyfriend was very satisfied with this dish. It was creamy with a nice mix of mushroom types.

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Desserts

Chocolate Brownie

Rich and chocolatey, this was not a bog-standard get-it-in-any-Starbucks brownie. Served with a dark chocolate sauce and ice cream on a biscuit base, this brownie felt far more luxurious than the usual offering in high street chains.

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Upside Down Lemon Cheesecake

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I’m not normally a fan of lemon desserts, but I fancied something lighter than a cake or pudding. The texture was creamy and smooth, not like the supermarket-style cheesecake that you commonly get in high street eateries. The biscuit topping had thyme piece in it, which was very subtle and complimented the lemon nicely.

Chocolate and Orange Cake

The afternoon cakes change regularly, but this was one of the cakes that was on offer on our arrival. It tasted more of orange than chocolate, but it was a refreshing taste and we both enjoyed it.

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Drinks

Milkshake

Oddly, one of our favourite items on the menu were the milkshakes. Made with ice cream, cream and milk, they were thick and creamy yet refreshing. We only tried the chocolate one, but next time I visit the Honeycomb flavour will be on my list!

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Hot Chocolate

Yummy, creamy, warm – everything you want in a hot chocolate.

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Cider

For those of you who enjoy alcohol with dinner, O and B’s offer several gluten free options, including a local cider. Crisp and clear, it was the perfect accompaniment to our main courses.

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With comparison to the other 100% gluten free eateries I’ve reviewed I found Oscar and Bentley’s to be one of the most accommodating and friendly. They happily adjusted parts of the menu to my dietary requirements and made both of us feel welcome.

It may be nice to see a pasta or pizza option on the menu, simply as another option, though this may not be in keeping with the restaurant’s current menu theme (and many high street Italian chains will do this, with CC being kept to minimum but not absolutely guaranteed). Overall we had no complaints at all, either in way of variety (within the very limited parameters of my own dietary requirements), food or service.

★★★★★

Five stars for safe dining out for Coeliacs, excellent knowledge of other dietary requirements, delicious food and a lovely atmosphere. I will definitely be visiting again!

Website: http://www.oscar-bentleys.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscarandbentleys/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/oscarbentleys

Review | Niche Food and Drink, Islington, London

Please read the entire review for my star rating and conclusion at the end.

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Niche is a 100% gluten free restaurant in Islington, London. You can imagine how excited I was to find out that they are 100% gluten free and have vegetarian options.

The restaurant itself is nicely laid out with beautiful photography on the walls. It had a minimalist feel with plants on the table which made it seem bigger than it is (it is a relatively small place).

Something unusual for me to praise about a restaurant is the toilet facilities. Often in chain restaurants they are disgusting, small and I try to avoid them! As we had been out in Islington all day and had endured an hour or so on the train and tubes I decided to brave the restroom. It was not only incredibly spacious, but also clean with hand soap and lotion provided! Unfortunately there is only one toilet, so if you are a large party this may become an issue, but as this is a small restaurant, it is to be expected!

The menu has plenty of choice and is fairly priced. I didn’t manage to get a photo of the menu, but if you visit their website you can view it there!

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There were lots of choices for starters, including a few vegetarian options. I was incredibly excited to try the “Parmesan and Cheddar Doughnuts”. They came with a red pepper and tomato dip. Both were utterly delicious and I could have quite happily eaten another ten of them! I’ve never had savoury doughnuts before, let alone gluten free ones, and these were fluffy, flavourful and went perfectly with the dip. They were not overly cheesy, but you could taste the parmesan. The dip was reminiscent of salsa; fruity and tomatoey with a slight garlic and spice kick.

Parmesan and Cheddar Doughnuts
Parmesan and Cheddar Doughnuts

My boyfriend is not vegetarian and so ordered the “Niche Fried Chicken”. This turned out to be exactly what the title said – KFC style gluten free chicken strips, only much tastier! He really enjoyed the chicken especially with the dips that it came with.

Niche Fried Chicken
Niche Fried Chicken

We really enjoyed our starters and so we were looking forward to our mains. I ordered the “Niche Quiche” which is always vegetarian and comes with a salad and chips. The recipe that day was tomato and spinach. The quiche is made with cream as well as egg. The filling was okay, though not particularly “wowing”. After the flavour packed starter I had expected a bit more from the quiche. I didn’t really enjoy the pastry – I found it a little dense. The best pastry is flaky and light, but this was hard and thick.

Niche Quiche and Side Salad
Niche Quiche and Side Salad
Chips
Chips

The best part of my main, surprisingly was the side salad! The dressing was exquisite and the

lettuce was fresh and tasty. This is coming from someone who does not really enjoy salad! I

think next time I go I will order the goats cheese salad for a main – something a bit lighter.

The chips were also a little disappointing. They had left the skins on, which gave them a rougher texture. This may just be personal preference, but I much prefer my chips in the classic style – with no skins!

My boyfriend went for the “Beef and Chorizo Pie”. He really enjoyed the flavours but also found the pastry to be too dense. He did however comment that the mash was creamy, and went perfectly with the gravy provided. In hindsight, the weather was sweltering that day and so pie and mash was probably not a perfect choice!

Beef and Chorizo Pie
Beef and Chorizo Pie

Due to the dense pastry and delicious starters, we were stuffed by the time it came to dessert. Luckily the waiter gave us some time to let our food go down and we decided to order dessert.

I had the “Peanut Butter Blondie”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with blondies, they are normally the white chocolate equivalent of a brownie. Niche’s version had a white chocolate ganache and peanut butter topping. The texture was delicious and the first few bites were lovely – it was nice to have a dessert that was something other than the usual brownie that we get in most chain restaurants. It was just too sweet to have a lot of unfortunately. Again, this may just be my personal taste, but I found it too sickly to finish.

Peanut Butter Blondie
Peanut Butter Blondie

My boyfriend ordered a “St. Clement’s Cheesecake” – inspired by the rhyme “Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s”. He loves lemon flavoured desserts, especially cheesecake and really enjoyed this version. I am not a fan of lemon but tried it anyway. I was very impressed! The flavour was weighted more towards orange, with a nice hint of lemon and the cheesecake was light in texture. When we go back I may order the cheesecake for myself.

St Clement's Cheesecake
St Clement’s Cheesecake

Overall, I would recommend Niche to anyone with a gluten intolerance or Coeliac disease. It is a novel experience to be able to have a three course meal out without worrying about cross contamination and being able to order whatever I fancied from the menu.

There are several things that need fine tuning on their menu. For example, the texture of the pastry and the sickly sweet taste of the blondie. There were several other options on the menu that I would like to try and I’ll be sure to go back and try them!

★★★★☆

4 out of 5 stars for safe Coeliac dining, gorgeous starters, and plenty of options for vegetarians.

Even though it around an hour’s train and tube travel from my home, I will be returning when I can!

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Make sure to book your table in advance as they are often busy and only a small restaurant.

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