Hawksmoor, Guildhall

Hawksmoor is always a great option for coeliacs, especially if you want a to treat yourself to a high quality steak.  Having previously been to the Air Street restaurant, this time I got to try Guildhall for my friend Grant’s birthday lunch.

As always, the waiting staff were able to take me through the menu and tell me what I can and can’t have. We decided to order from the Express Menu (3 courses for £28) because it’s such a bargain.

I went for the Salcombe crab on toast as a starter and the chef substituted the toast for some sliced beef tomatoes.

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I absolutely love fish and seafood and this crab was up there with some of the best I’ve ever had.

For my main course, I decided to pay the £5 supplement and ordered the fillet steak (rare) with triple cooked chips.

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Hawksmoor really knows how to do steak well and my fillet was no exception – it was perfectly cooked and extremely delicious.

For dessert I had the special, a lemon meringue sundae which was the surprise winner of the meal.

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This dessert was sooo good, it’s one of those dishes you can’t stop thinking about once you’ve tried it. I hope they include it on the menu again soon.

As always, Hawksmoor delivers great gluten free food and I hope to visit all the restaurants at some point!

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Street Monkey

As I travel a lot for work, I sometimes don’t have time to cook myself dinner and so rely on ready meals to see me through. Not the most healthy of habits, so I was delighted when I came across Street Monkey whilst browsing Sourced Market in St Pancras.

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Street Monkey meals come as a set of three tiffin boxes, which include a curry, a side and a rice. Best of all, they are gluten, wheat, dairy free, are made with no artificial ingredients and use ethical meat.

I went for the Spicy Goan Coconut Beef curry set, which comes with a side of Chennai Aloo (chickpea and potato in a tomato sauce) and pea pilau rice.

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You stick them all in the microwave for a few minutes and voila…your Indian feast is ready to eat.

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This Street Monkey meal was one of the best ready meals I’ve ever had. The sauce was rich and spicy and the beef was better quality than in some restaurants I’ve been to. I’ll certainly be buying one of these again.

Lardo

Before going to see the excellent Lost in the Riots at The Brewhouse Venue in Hackney, my friend Matt and I had some dinner at Lardo to try out their gluten free pizza bases.

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Lardo is a cool Italian in The Arthaus Building on Richmond Road and is very popular. Although it looks quiet in the photo, by about 6.30pm is was packed, so booking is recommended.

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Lardo does the whole Italian shebang, spuntini, anitpasti, primi, secondi etc. etc. I ordered the spicy seafood marinara pizza on a gluten free base.

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The topping was lovely but unfortunately the base was no where near as good as the Theos standard. Matt didn’t really enjoy his regular pizza either and considering how expensive they are, we probably won’t go back again.

Yosma

Back in July I had the pleasure of visiting Yosma, a Turkish small plates restaurant on Baker Street. I’m not usually one for small plates but I saw a great review of Yosma and decided to give it a go.

Like most Turkish restaurants, there was a lots of meaty, gluten free options so I knew I wouldn’t go hungry despite the size of the portions.

While we were deciding on what to have, my friend Matt ordered some Clay Oven Bread. Obviously I couldn’t have any, but once I’d told the waiting staff I was a coeliac they bought me over some gluten free bread so I didn’t miss out.

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We ordered four small plates each – one cold meze, one hot meze and two mangal dishes.

First up, the Salt Cured Mackerel (Çiroz) with pickled shallot, apple and dill, which was absolutely delicious. Meaty mackerel, perfectly cured – we were off to a good start!

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Calamari next, battered using chickpea flour so it’s completely gluten free!

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This was followed by the Turkish Meatballs (Köfte) – Lamb shoulder köfte, steamed potato and muhammara sauce. I’m not a huge fan of köfte usually, it reminds me of those greasy sticks of meat you get at crap office parties. Yosma’s köfte however, is superb and the sauce a rich, tasty version of the chilli sauce you get with your doner kebabs!

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The star of the show next, Chicken (Tavuk) – corn-fed chicken breast, charred corn, green pepper and tahini sauce.

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This is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had and the reason I’ll be going back to Yosma asap.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of gluten free dessert, so sadly I had to go without.

I definitely recommend Yosma as a great gluten free option, in an area that is rife with chains and tourists. Not only was the food amazing, the staff were knowledgeable, friendly and very accommodating.

Lepelblad, Ghent

I recently had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Ghent, a lovely city in Belgium which I can’t recommend enough.

Lepelblad was just around the corner from our airbnb, in a great shopping and foodie area of the city.

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The menu was in Flemish but thankfully the waitress spoke English, so I was able to tell her that I was a coeliac and ask about the food. Amazingly, she said that I could order anything I wanted and they’d be able to make it gluten free (apart from the pasta because they’d run out their gf version). This was the best start to my trip possible!

I ordered lamb meatball tomato curry and rice, not a traditional Belgium cuisine but bloody hell it was nice. One of the best curries I’ve had, ever.

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We didn’t have time for dessert unfortunately but if you find yourself in Ghent, I’d highly recommend trying Lepelblad – the food is great and EVERYTHING can be made gluten free!

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Caravan, Kings Cross

Caravan, located in the beautiful Granary Square near Kings Cross station, is another great option for the gluten-free (especially when the queues for Dishoom are too long). Caravan does tapas style small plates, hearty but interesting mains and pizzas.

I asked for the gluten free menu on arrival and was pleased to see that I had plenty of options amongst the ‘small plates’. Pizza is obviously out and most of the mains I sadly couldn’t have, so on the advice of the waitress I ordered 3 of the smalls.

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I went for the burrata with ancho chilli, pan-fried mackerel and the brown shrimp with grits.

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Having recently enjoyed some amazing burrata when I was in Italy and at the Camberwell Arms, I was very excited about this plate. Unfortunately it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It wasn’t as creamy as I had hoped and the salsa didn’t pack the punch I was after. It was still nice, just not as nice as I wanted it to be.

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The mackerel on the other hand, was delicious. The pine nuts and sultanas worked perfectly with the fish, which was fresh and juicy. My one criticism is that the skin wasn’t as crispy as I like it to be.

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Another dish which came with high expectations after my New York experience, but again left me a disappointed. Shrimp and grits are always a winning combo so I shouldn’t really complain but…the grits were a little sloppy rather than fluffy and the shrimp was a bit too sweet rather than salty. I still ate and enjoyed it all with a spoon though!

Even after 3, not so small plates, I still had room for a pudding. So I ordered the coconut panna cotta with passion fruit coulis, which was fabulous.

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I feel like I’ve been a bit harsh on Caravan purely because I got my hopes up. It’s actually a really lovely restaurant, with great food, loads of gluten free options in an awesome location. Judge it for yourself, booking is necessary because they are always busy!

Caravan has three locations now – Kings Cross, Exmouth Market and Bankside.

Blighty India Cafe

Last Saturday I found myself in Seven Sisters looking for somewhere to have brunch, when I stumbled across Blighty India Cafe.

Although Blighty specialises in lovely, freshly baked bread, they also do gluten free sliced white so I didn’t miss out on toast with my fry-up.

I went for a full English with gf bread and it did not disappoint. The sausage was removed due to its gluten content but it didn’t matter – the breakfast arrived with a side of spicy beans, 2 fried eggs, 3 rashers of bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding!

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The baked beans were definitely the highlight, especially because I could mop up all the sauce with the bread, a luxury I don’t usually have! The rest was great too, good quality and fresh, up there with the best fry-ups I’ve had.

Should I end up in Seven Sisters again I will definitely be making a return visit to Blighty.

Castel del Piano, Tuscany

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to spend a few days hanging out with friends at the wonderfully rustic Cenno, in a beautiful Tuscan town called Castel del Piano.

Initially I worried about holidaying in the land of pasta and pizza (or Wheataly as some might say), but in the end I had absolutely nothing to fear. It seems the more a country likes it’s gluten, the better they are at catering for those who don’t.

Castello Banfi – La Taverna

Banfi is a beautiful winery and hillside vineyard with incredible views of the surrounding Grosseto province. It also has a lovely restaurant based within the ancient barrel cellars of Brunello castle.

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We booked to have lunch here not only for all the reasons I just mentioned but also because their sample menus clearly identify allergens, which is always a good sign.

When we arrived we were greeted with a selection of bread and a gluteny amuse-bouche. I mentioned to the waitress that I was gluten-free and she rushed off to the kitchen to tell the chef, returning with a basket of gf breads, crackers and an amended amuse-bouche. Happy days!

There were plenty of starters for me to choose from, some naturally gluten free, some gluten free with alterations. I went for the selection of cinta senese cured meats without the mixed crostini.

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When the absolutely massive portion arrived, they’d unexpectedly swapped the crostini with some gluten-free crackers so I could properly enjoy the rich pate and tomato salsa. The meat itself was excellent – fresh and flavoursome, a million times better than the packaged stuff you get here.

Unfortunately I had to skip ‘primi’, as this is the pasta course. But not worry, moving on to ‘secondi’, I chose to have the cod with chickpea, vegetables and red onion.

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The cod was so beautifully cooked it was falling apart on the plate, I really don’t think I’ve ever had a better cooked piece of fish – subtly salty and not overpowered by the onion or chickpea. Very, very impressive and much needed after my meaty starter.

Unfortunately there was only one dessert option that I was able to have – tangerine sorbet and fruit. This isn’t something I’d usually order but thought it was bound to be good in a country that specialises in gelato and granita, and I wasn’t wrong.

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The fruit salad was presented so beautifully I felt guilty tucking in, but the tangerine sorbet was out of this world. I have never tasted an ice-cream that had such flavour, it was so remarkable I wasn’t even jealous of my friends’ chocolate fondants!

We finished off the meal with a delicious dessert wine called Banfi Rosa Regale which I recommend you all immediately go out and buy.

10/10 La Taverna, I hope to visit again some day.

Del Dombi

After wandering around Castel del Piano looking for somewhere to have dinner, we stumbled across Del Dombi, a great family run restaurant serving Italian classics for a very reasonable price.

If you’re looking for something fancy, Del Dombi probably isn’t for you, but it was just what we needed after a day floating around the Saturnia thermal springs.

This restaurant is so Italian, no one speaks English and there were no helpfully translated menus, so we had to rely on Google to decipher them.

For a starter I ordered cozze e vongole con burro all’aglio (mussels and clams with garlic butter).

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The mussels were absolutely enormous, juicy and fresh and the clams the same. For such a back to basics restaurant, I was really impressed with how great this starter was. Special mention to the amazingly garlicky butter sauce, which the rest of my group took turns in dipping their bread in to.

As a main I went for bistecca alla griglia (grilled steak) with a side of melanzane grigliate (grilled aubergine) – usually I’d have fries with a steak but I didn’t have the language skills to explain what having coeliac disease means!

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It arrived just seared and deliciously rare, just how a like it! I’m not sure what the cut of beef was, it certainly wasn’t a fillet as it had quite a bit of fat to navigate but for the price it was delicious and great quality.

For dessert I decided to go full Italy and have a panna cotta con creme caramel (I probably don’t need to translate that one). Another unusual choice for me but I’m so glad I did, it was by far the best part of the meal, despite what it looks like.

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The whole meal including a bottle of prosecco and a carafe of wine cost only €30 each and the food was great, definitely worth a visit.

Coop

Coop or co-op is Castel del Piano’s local supermarket and thought it was worth a mention because it has the BEST gluten free section ever.

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This meant not only did I get to enjoy cheese with lots of crackers but also Nutella cake, fresh pasta, and surprisingly gluten free Tenants lager!

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Busaba Eathai – Deliveroo

Every Sunday hangover deserves a takeaway, so this week having noticed Busaba Eathai was now available for me on Deliveroo, I decided to treat myself to some Thai food.

Busaba handily indicates which dishes are gluten free on their menu, which makes it very easy – helpful when you’re feeling a little worse for wear.

I ordered the fish cakes with cucumber and peanut relish, green chicken curry, steamed jasmine rice and prawn crackers. It arrived about 25 minutes later, still piping hot.

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As I served up, I was a disappointed with the curry’s sauce to chicken ratio, it was so wet the rice completely drowned and it only had about two pieces of chicken in it.

The fish cakes were average at best – greasy, rubbery and the dip was just sweet chilli sauce rather than the cucumber and peanut relish promised.

The curry itself tasted really good despite being mainly sauce, creamy and rich with a mild spice and the chicken was tender and juicy. Supposedly it should have contained aubergine as well but there was no sign of any.

Overall it did the job and helped me on my way to recovery but it’s weird that I can get Busaba in my area because there isn’t a restaurant anywhere near. I have a feeling they are letting a local kitchen cook on their behalf, which would explain why corners were cut and ingredients missed.

Again, if you want to try it for yourself you can get £5 off your first Deliveroo order by using my invite link: 

Theo’s

Before being diagnosed with Coeliac disease, I was a Theo’s regular even attending their opening night, so I absolutely was gutted when I had to stop eating there. Then a few weeks ago, my friend and I were discussing how great it was and he mentioned they’d developed a gluten free dough!!!

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I promptly gave them a call and ordered a pizza for collection and voila, 10 minutes later I was chowing down on honestly the best gluten free pizza I have ever had.

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I went for the Napoli Salami with added aubergine on a gluten free base. The ingredients they use at Theo’s are of the highest quality, including the dough which they’ve clearly spent some time developing as it tastes just like the regular stuff. The salami was peppery and crisp, mozzarella creamy and aubergine perfectly cooked. Finished off with spicy chilli and the freshest of basil, I was an extremely happy customer and am in danger of developing a pretty severe pizza habit to make up for lost time.

Choosing to have your pizza on a gluten free base will cost you an extra £3, which is a little steep but I’m very happy to continue to pay it so they keep doing it! Occasionally Theo’s pops up on Deliveroo, so if you live in Camberwell you can get £5 off your first order with my Deliveroo link: