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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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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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.

Hawksmoor, Air Street

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.