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.

Hawksmoor

I’d always wanted to eat at Hawksmoor before being diagnosed so I was delighted when I read about it’s ‘proper GF menu’ on The Coeliac Plate. So as a birthday treat a couple of months ago, I celebrated over lunch at the Air Street branch.

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We all opted to order from the very reasonable ‘express menu‘ (two courses – £25 or three courses – £28) and upon advising the waiting staff that there was not one but two coeliacs in the party, they were very quick to let us know what our options were.

What separates great restaurants from average ones, are when they can accommodate alterations to meals. Nothing pisses me off more than when a dish is deemed not suitable for coeliacs just because it’s served with a slice of bread. Hawksmooor is a great restaurant though and makes it very clear what is gluten free and what can be modified, happily this meant I could have the triple cooked chips (sans vinegar) with my fillet steak worry free.

I had burrata with peas, broad beans and asparagus to start followed by fillet steak and chips. Both courses were amazing and attempting to describe them wouldn’t really do them justice. I’d happily eat at Hawksmoor everyday if I had the money!

Unfortunately none of the desserts on the express menu were gluten free (or could be modified) so we called it a day and headed back to mine for some birthday flourless chocolate cake (this recipe is ridiculously good).

Overall Hawksmoor was a great experience and I highly recommend it to everyone. I hope to visit again very soon.

La Polenteria

Rushed, pre-show dinners aren’t easy for a coeliac, especially in Soho where almost every restaurant has a no bookings policy.

So when La Polenteria opened on Old Compton Street me and my coealic buddy Ed rejoiced. A 100% gluten free Italian that takes reservations OMG!

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As it turns out, we OMGed too soon. La Polenteria may be gluten free but it tastes bad and a bottle of Daura Damm (gluten free Estrella) cost £6 each!

Unfortunately because I was in a hurry to see a show (Marcus Brigstocke at the Soho Theatre), I didn’t have a chance to take any photos so I will attempt to describe the disappointment for you.

Starters

I had the parmigiana with burrata mousse served with crispy polenta. Unfortunately what arrived was not a parmigiana but 2 slices of rubbery aubergine, 3 sun-dried tomatoes and a soggy polenta crisp. The burrata mousse was nice but not nice enough to save the dish.

Properly made parmigiana is one of my favourite meals ever, there’s an easy recipe on the BBC Good Food website, which smashes La Polenteria’s version out of the water.

My friends had the poached spicy egg with polenta croutons with a tomato and garlic infusion (not spicy) and olives, bread and oil – which bizarrely was actually a plate of crudités with about 5 olives scattered on top and supermarket sliced gluten free bread. Outrageous when you can buy really amazing gluten free sour dough from Ocado.

Mains

Most of us ordered the home made beef ravioli with balsamic reduction, pine nuts and raisins, which was fine but not very warm or very big. One friend had the polenta with stewed beef, which looked lovely until we realised the polenta had developed a skin from being sat under a hot light for too long.

Needless to say we didn’t stick around for dessert, just paid up and legged it to Patisserie Valerie for some of their gluten free brownies, which we didn’t realise they even did.

As well as this gluten free revelation we also found out the The Crown and Two Chairman on Dean Street stocks Duara Damm too and is much cheaper than La Polenteria.

So not a completely disastrous night out in Soho.