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Eating Out | Review of Biscuit, The Gluten Free Cafe (Poole, Dorset)

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

Biscuit is a brand new 100% gluten free cafe in Branksome, near Poole, Dorset, which was opened three weeks ago by French native Stephanie. This cafe fills a niche in the market by being both completely gluten free and influenced by French cuisine.

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The owner, Stephanie, is an IBD sufferer herself and as such understands the needs of many Free From customers, including of course Coeliacs but also those with IBS, those who need dairy free food and those who need low sugar food.

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I must highlight one thing in this review – Biscuit is a very new business, finding its feet within the local community and adapting the menu to appeal to everyone.

My first impression of the cafe on walking in was very pleasant; whilst small, the decor is tasteful and relaxing, all of the tables and the counter were clean and unlike a lot of cafes, Biscuit smells lovely! Whilst this might seem a strange thing to notice about a cafe, its a factor that has affected my dining experience in other establishments and made my heightened my opinion of Biscuit.

All of these details added to the friendly and relaxed atmosphere that pervades this cafe. Stephanie and her staff were chatty with us and the other customers we saw come in and answer our many questions about ingredients (IBS forces me to do so!). I also impressed that the staff member who took our order told us assured us about their gluten free food unprompted and knew how to answer questions about dietary requirements or allergies.

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We enjoyed sampling the menu, though we could not try everything due to our dietary requirements. Biscuit offers hot food as well as quiche, wraps, sandwiches and a selection of cakes.

We both tried a vegetarian adaptation of Biscuit’s Croque Madame and agreed it was lovely. The egg was cooked beautifully with a soft yolk which complimented the creamy Emmental cheese. It was accompanied by a nice side salad and dressing. It felt lovely to be able to sit down at a cafe and order hot food with no fear of cross contamination.

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My boyfriend tried the scrambled eggs on toast on another occasion and found it similarly tasty, but the real stars of the show were the cakes.

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The chocolate cake was incredibly moist and delicate although not as sweet as we were expecting. The chocolate and walnut brownie was similarly moist but with a far richer and sweeter chocolatey taste.

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Our favourite sweet option by far were the chocolate chip cookies. They were light and chewy, melted in your mouth and were perfectly flavoured – some of the best gluten free cookies we’ve ever had.

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You would not be able to tell that any of these sweet options were gluten free – in fact, Biscuit attracts a lot of non-Coeliacs due to its location opposite a retail park.

Whilst we enjoyed all of the food we tried, we both felt that the biggest thing this cafe lacks is range. It would be nice to see the French theme expanded with crepes (Jason added they should offer Nutella crepes, his favourite food!), croissants, mille-feuille or macarons as well as some additional savoury dishes. I must stress again how new this cafe is and so you must not let this put you off visiting – I know that Biscuit is open to suggestions and is experimenting with new menu additions even now.

The drinks menu was fairly standard and we enjoyed both coffee and hot chocolate, but each hot drink comes with a little homemade gluten free biscuit – inspired by petit beurre. This was a lovely touch, especially given the very reasonable prices.

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This was a big feature for us – as students, it can be really difficult to get good gluten free food for a low price unless you make it yourself. Biscuit’s prices were a lot more reasonable than the other 100% gluten free cafes we have visited in the past, especially the ones in London. We thought that £2.50 (compared to £4-5 in other cafes we’ve been to) for a slice of cake was very affordable.

This cafe has a lot of potential. An independent, allergy aware, specialist eatery like this on the south coast will draw a lot of holiday makers to it as well as locals and the French twist will keep Coeliac customers coming back for more.

 

4 and a half

4  & 1/2 out of 5 stars for a 100% gluten free cafe with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. With an increase in range on the hot menu and more French foods, this cafe could easily be a 5 star eatery. Make sure to visit if you are in the area!

Check out Biscuit’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BiscuitTheGFC/

Read their menu here: https://www.biscuitthegfc.co.uk/menu

 

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

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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:

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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 won the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards’ “Restaurant” category in 2014. They’re 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 | Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery, Islington

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

Last month I visited Islington in London with my boyfriend especially to try Romeo’s Bakery and Niche Food and Drink. I was very excited to see what was offered at both 100% gluten free eateries.

As it was an hour of train and tube travel plus a walk from Angel tube station to get to Romeo’s, we didn’t arrive in the cafe until around 11.30 am. It’s a small cafe, but beautifully set out with a counter for displaying the various quiches, pastries etc that they sell.

Romeo's Gluten Free Bakery
Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery

We had a long look at the menu and could not believe the choice. They offer breakfast choices, sandwiches, quiches, pastries as well pizza and burgers. Here are the photos I took of the menu we were given:

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There was a lot to choose from, but as we were due at Niche for a three course dinner in a few hours, we both opted for a light brunch – pancakes with fresh fruit.

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When they came out we were amazed to see three massive gluten free pancakes and a heap of fresh banana, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Our server gave us a bottle of maple syrup to use if we wanted it as well! The pancakes were £5.75 per person, but more than filled us up until dinner time. They were soft and tasted just like “normal” gluten pancakes. We were both very impressed with them and would happily have these for brunch again.

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I was tempted to buy some quiche, pizza or a pastry to take away with us and try later, but we were very full from the pancakes and had dinner in a few hours and would have to carry it back with us on the tubes and trains home, so we decided not to. On the way out I spotted freshly baked bread and decided it would survive the travel home!

I asked the server what kinds of bread he had available and he told me the different flavours they had that day. I opted for a small white loaf which he wrapped and put into a bag for me. This cost me £4.95.

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I was very excited the next day to get the bread out and try it! My first impression when cutting into it was that the crust is very hard. The bread was – as you’d expect from the name – very small in height and so I had three pieces with mozzarella, tomato purée and basil on top. I put into the oven for around 10 minutes until the cheese melted and ate for my lunch.

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The bread tasted lovely, but I found the texture to be very close. It worked well toasted, but untoasted it was quite dry and tough to have as a sandwich.

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Although it was fantastic to have fresh and tasty bread again (for the first time in a year since going GF!) I personally wouldn’t buy this loaf again as it was rather expensive for what I got. It only stayed fresh for a couple of days – after about three days it was too stale to even cut.

Even though I found the bread to be too expensive for what it was I would highly recommend Romeo’s to everyone. Not only is it a safe haven for Coeliacs as it is 100% gluten free, it also offers a very wide range of freshly cooked food, catering well for vegetarians. The pancakes were perfect and I couldn’t fault them – we left Romeo’s with full bellies, feeling happy that we’d made the long journey.

★★★★☆

4 out of 5 stars for a wonderful 100% gluten free bakery with a good range of options, but slightly disappointing bread. Really worth a visit if you are in London!

Here you can find their Facebook page.

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.

National Burger Day!

It’s National Burger Day today and I thought I’d share with you some of the vegetarian gluten free burgers I’ve had since diagnosis.

Ed’s Easy Diner – Chickpea and Quinoa Burger

Chickpea and Quinoa burger
Chickpea and Quinoa burger

Ed’s have a good reputation for Coeliac safe food. Just because they are a burger

place doesn’t mean they don’t provide for us veggies either! I had a wonderful vegetarian cheese burger with chips followed by a Nutella milkshake.
The only thing I will say is that I don’t think I could have this burger now that I’ve been diagnosed with IBS-D. Both chickpeas and quinoa might be a little too much for my stomach to handle now, so it would be nice to have another vegetarian option on their menu.

Nutella Milkshake
Nutella Milkshake

The burger roll was the best gluten free roll I’ve ever had and worked perfectly for an American style burger. You could hold it all with one hand and nothing fell apart – wonderful!
The Nutella milkshake is something everyone must try. Creamy, light and delicious.

“Good Life” Nut and Parsnip burger

This is my “go to” burger at home. It only takes twenty in the oven, is vegan and certified gluten free (they use rigorous testing to make sure it is safe!).
If you are not a vegetarian/vegan I will warn you – do not expect a “meaty” style burger. It is what is says on the packet – a nut burger – and it’s delicious! It’s sweet and nutty, yet it also has a herby kick and a slight hint of garlic. It hold well together in bread, or can accompany chips/rice/salad without a bun quite nicely! I enjoy topping it with halloumi and having it without a roll!

Good Life Nut Burger
Good Life Nut Burger

Vivo Lounge – Butternut Squash and Nutmeg Falafel

Vivo Lounge falafel burger
Vivo Lounge falafel burger

Vivo Lounge is in Dorchester but there are branches every where. See this post for more info on my experience in the Dorchester Lounger. This is incredibly worth it if you have a “Lounger” near you. This burger is a taste sensation, and nothing like some of the boring veggie burgers I’ve had in the past. The nutmeg makes the burger taste much more interesting than a butternet squash burger normally would. I ordered it with houmous (falafel and houmous are always perfect together) and as it came with halloumi already, it was the perfect veggie burger trio! Although, as it is made of falafel, it was very filling, and I struggled to eat it all as well as the delicious chips that came with it.
I had no negative after effects (I was very nervous eating there as I had not heard of it before!) I was pleased to have such tasty food and no reaction! Really worth a try if you have one near you, whether you are vegetarian or not.

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