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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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.

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.

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: 

The Red Lion

Lovely Barnes, one of my favourite areas of London. Great for runs, bike rides, bird watching and visiting my friend Louise. It also just happens to have a fantastic pub, The Red Lion, which makes for an excellent post-exercise pit stop.

On this occasion I had just finished the Putney and Fulham half marathon so I was in desperate need for some refuelling.

The menu changes regularly and although they don’t indicate the allergens, the staff are very friendly and happy to find out what is or isn’t suitable for coeliacs. On the Sunday I was there, I treated myself to steak, chips a red wine.

As always the food was lovely, my steak perfectly rare and chips fluffy and massive, and the red wine was the perfect finisher. Unfortunately The Red Lion doesn’t do gluten free beer but who cares when you’re eating steak!

When in Barnes, visit The Red Lion, I really need to go there more often.

The Hanbury Arms

Before going to see the wonderfully funny 2 Become 1 at the Kings Head Theatre back in December, my friends and I headed to The Hanbury Arms for a gluten free pizza.

When I arrived and asked about the gf pizza bases, the bar staff looked slightly perplexed and disappeared out the back to check the freezer. Not an ideal start to an evening. A few minutes later, they came back with the happy news that they had 1 gf base left. Thank god!

The Hanbury Arms offers a large variety of pizza, including my favourite – spicy salami with aubergine and basil. I love aubergine, so I had high hopes for this one.

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As with all gluten free pizzas, it arrived much smaller than regular ones, what I didn’t expect was just how stingey they were with the aubergine! You might just be able to make it out, it’s the tiny brown bits in between the salami. Gutted.

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Lack of aubergine aside, the pizza was really tasty, around about the Pizza Express level of quality. So if you’re looking for a decent, reasonably priced, gf pizza to fill you up, I’d definitely recommend The Hanbury Arms. If you’re looking for quality toppings, then it might not be for you. Sadly, there’s also no gluten free beer here.

The Camberwell Arms

The Camberwell Arms is one of my favourite pubs in London and just so happens to be very, very good at food. I hadn’t been back since I got diagnosed, until last Sunday to welcome my friend Matt to south east London.

The menu changes daily, so I had a quick look beforehand and there seemed to be a couple of options for me. When we arrived though, lots of the items had run out (top tip: get there before 2pm on a Sunday) so I asked our waiter if they had a gluten free menu. He took the menu and spoke to the chef, returning with a redacted version for me to order from. Great service!

We decided to have the Hereford sirloin, Bearnaise, roast potatoes and watercress for two and because we were sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, we got to see the beast being flame grilled right in front of us. Amazing!

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The huge cut of beef was absolutely perfect – rare, juicy and beautifully seasoned. The roasties were a bit tough but we found dipping them in the meat juice softened them up a treat. The watercress salad was a lovely, fresh accompaniment.

I had meringue, peaches and cream (think Eton mess with peach) for dessert which was a great end to an amazing Sunday lunch. I cannot wait to go back again!

Le Petite Bretagne

Whenever I have lunch with my friend James, we always meet somewhere in between Tooting and Camberwell for convenience, so the day before I started frantically researching gluten free lunch options around Clapham.

I came across Le Petite Bretagne on Clapham Park Road, a creperie that specialises in savoury buckwheat (gluten and wheat free) crepes – perfect!

The restaurant itself is modern and spacious and the waiting staff are very attentive, we were seated immediately by the window and the menus explained.

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It’s a two step process, first you choose a savoury crepe and then a side salad. I went for a ‘Savoyard’ (cheese, ham, gherkin, potato and onion) and ‘Sergent pepper’ salad (peppers, pine nuts, Parmesan, olives and basil).

When our food arrived we were astonished by how big the portion sizes were (my photos don’t do them justice). They certainly don’t scrimp on crepe fillings or bulk out the salad with lettuce, ideal as we’d both been for long runs earlier that morning.

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The pancake itself was delicious, buckwheat works so well for savoury pancakes. The combination of cheese, ham, gherkins, onions and potatoes was excellent (obviously) and it was great having the salad to offset the huge amounts of melted cheese.

We both decided to have dessert too, because we’d earned the extra calories from running.

I ordered the banana split and James the Nutella and banana waffle (sadly there were no gf waffle options).

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The banana split was massive, consisting of two chocolate chip and vanilla ice cream scoops, chopped banana, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I had to give the wafer to James but the rest I took my time over and finished. Well worth the effort and the feeling of being unbearably full.

For all you non-special dietary requirement people out there, the waffle looked amazing too and apparently tasted incredible.

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Thanks for the photo James

I can’t wait to go back to La Petite Bretagne, the food was great and it’s so nice to have something different than the usual gluten free buns/pizza bases you often have to rely on for lunches.

Top marks to La Petite Bretagne! Clapham has suddenly become far more appealing!

There’s also a restaurant in Hammersmith on Beadon Road. Hurrah!