Monday, July 31, 2017

Gluten Free in London - Lunch & Dinner

Before our British Isles cruise on the Disney Magic, we spent five nights in London at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square.  My breakfast reviews are in a separate post which you can read here.

After we checked in to our hotel, we walked over to Selfridges Food Hall to have dinner.  Beyond Bread, a 100% gluten free bakery with several locations in London, recently replaced the Coori stall in Selfridges.

I wanted something light, so I chose the toasted quinoa & roasted butternut squash.  I remember liking this dish, because it was more flavorful than I expected, and had a little bit of a spicy kick.

For dessert, I had a slice of Beyond Bread's gluten and dairy free orange & polenta cake, which was delicious.

Another night during our trip, I tried the sweet potato falafel & roasted vegetables sandwich from Beyond Bread.  It was heated in a panini press for me before I took it back to our hotel.  The ciabatta bread was very good, and I loved the roasted vegetables and hummus on the sandwich.

While I was in Selfridges Food Hall, I bought a bag of The Foods of Athenry Brownie Biscuits Cookie Shots.  They are gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.  I liked them so much, I bought two more bags before we left London.  Selfridges also carries Kent & Fraser gluten free chocolate butter crunch sweet biscuits, another favorite of mine that I first tried at Dean & DeLuca in Napa, California.

Our second night in London, we had dinner at Farmstand, a 100% gluten & dairy free fast casual restaurant in Covent Garden.  For my main dish, I picked the poached salmon with miso, and for sides, I chose the peas with asparagus, and new potatoes with garlic and pesto.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, and tasted very fresh, and I liked both of my sides.

For dessert, I had a brownie, which was super fudgy, and not overly sweet.

I also had a Tapped Birch Water with Apple & Root Ginger, which was very good, but like most water in the U.K., not cold enough for me.

My daughters both ordered lamb meatballs with smoked paprika and tomatoes, with sides of new potatoes with garlic & pesto, and fava beans with roasted peppers & pumpkin.  We all enjoyed our meals, and everyone shared with my husband, because we wanted a light dinner after having a big lunch earlier in the day.  The prices are very reasonable at Farmstand, and I love their food philosophy., which you can read about on their website here.  They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Our third day in London, we had lunch at Niche, a 100% gluten free restaurant in Islington, near the Angel Tube Station.  I ordered their NFC (Niche Fried Chicken) basket, with a side of skinny fries.  I loved the spiced crumb on the chicken, and the BBQ dip it came with.

The skinny fries were great too.  I considered ordering their beer-battered onion rings, and Parmesan & Cheddar dougnuts, but they both contain mustard, an allergen marked on Niche's menu, and one of my least favorite foods.

For dessert, I had a bowl of cinnamon ice cream, which was delicious.

My husband and daughter Emma ordered the Scotch pie, which is filled with mutton (lamb) and vegetables in a lemon, mint, and coriander enriched gravy.  It was served with sides of creamy mash, steamed curly kale, and onion gravy.  I tried a bite, and thought it was very good.  My husband enjoyed it, but Emma was not a fan of the pie itself, though she did like the creamy mash.  Katie liked her burger and skinny fries, but did not enjoy her bun.

My meal at Niche was probably my favorite of any I ate in London, and I would definitely go back the next time we are in the city.  You can view Niche's menu on their website here.

After seeing a matinee performance of Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre, we had dinner at Leggero, a 100% gluten free Italian restaurant that used to be called La Polenteria.  I liked my orange and ginger water, and their homemade hemp bread with butter.  We also ordered homemade foccaccia with mozzarella and parma ham, which my whole family enjoyed.

We shared an order of gnudi, which are ricotta and spinach balls served with fresh tomato sauce.  They were incredibly light compared to gnocchi, and I would love to try my hand at making them at home.

Both Katie and I ordered the handmade sorghum and hemp basil tagliatelle with almond flakes, pesto and tomatoes, but neither of us loved it.

Emma was happy with her handmade sorghum tagliatelle with bolognese sauce, one of her favorite pasta dishes to order when we eat out, because I do not make it at home.

My husband loved his handmade sorghum pasta with asparagus and avocado cream, pecorino cheese and egg.

You can read more about Leggero, and view their menu on their website here.

I considered getting tiramisu for dessert at Leggero, but decided to walk to Yorica, a 100% gluten, dairy, egg, and nut free ice cream shop in Soho.  I knew ahead of time that everything at Yorica was vegan, which did not interest my gluten-eating family, so they had gelato somewhere else.  Yorica offers frozen yogurt, ice cream, shakes, waffles, and crepes.  I did not ask if the cookies and cream ice cream I ordered tasted like coconut, and I did not sample it ahead of time.  Coconut is probably my least favorite food, but I don't mind eating products made with coconut milk, as long as I cannot taste it.  My cookies & cream ice cream had a strong coconut taste, so I did not enjoy it.  The freshly made mini waffles and raspberry sauce I had it topped with were amazing though, so I just ate the toppings.

The next day, we had lunch at Indigo at One Aldwych in Covent Garden.  Their lunch and dinner menus are entirely gluten and dairy free, and the restaurant has been awarded Coeliac UK Gluten Free accreditation.  Keep in mind that this hotel restaurant has a breakfast menu and tea service that are not entirely gluten free, but I asked a lot of questions about their protocols to prevent cross contamination, and felt comfortable dining there.  Their complimentary bread was incredibly light, and delicious dipped in the olive oil it was served with.

For lunch, I ordered the beer battered day boat fish with hand cut chips and crushed peas.  I loved everything on my plate.  The fish was crispy, and not greasy like some fried fish can be, and it was delicious dipped in the vinegar that it came with, or eaten with a bite of peas.  I enjoyed the chips with ketchup, but skipped the tartare sauce this dish is usually served with.

We noticed that other tables around us were enjoying the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea service, which is not entirely gluten free.  For dessert, I asked if I could get scones with clotted cream and jam, which is part of their tea service, and they were willing to accommodate me.  The scones were decent, but not great, but their jam and clotted cream were amazing.

My daughters both ordered hand rolled potato gnocchi with rainbow chard, broad beans, and confit lemon.  They must have liked them, because they disappeared quickly, and I didn't even get to taste a bite.

My husband ordered steak with hand cut chips and a leaf salad.  The steak did not look very appetizing, and my husband said it was not seasoned very well.

Our last night in London, I had dinner at Hemsley + Hemsley Cafe on the 3rd floor of Selfridges.  Everything on the menu is gluten and grain free, and contains no refined sugar.  I ordered a chilled pep-up tea with ginger, turmeric, cayenne and lemon pepper.  It has some heat, but was very good, and was served over ice, a rare occurrence for any drink in London.

I ordered pan fried salmon with quinoa, roasted vegetables, and basil pesto.  The skin on the salmon was super crispy, and the fish was fresh, and cooked perfectly.  Overall, the dish was super tasty, and I even tried it with a little housemade sriracha, which I have never eaten before.

My gluten-eating family planed on eating somewhere else in Selfridges, but patiently sat with me while i dined.  Because my daughters were hungry, I ordered a British meat and cheese board for us to share to tide them over.  The carrot almond flax crackers were pretty good, but we did not enjoy all of the cheeses and meats.

Our server, who was incredibly sweet and helpful, warned us that the quinoa scones were dry, and she was right.  I did enjoy the raspberry chia jam and clotted cream, but they need to work on their scone recipe, because they crumble apart when you cut them.  I ended my meal with the cream tea, but do not like to drink warm tea, so our server included my chilled pep-up tea as part of my order.

Our first full day in London, we ate lunch at Dishoom in Covent Garden, a restaurant with excellent reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app.  It also came highly recommended from several gluten free bloggers.  Dishroom's gluten free menu is huge, so I had a lot of dishes to choose from.

I loved the Indian cuisine, though found most of it to be super spicy, which I don't mind, but it prevented my family from enjoying their meals.  We shared lamb boti kebab, chicken ruby, masala prawns, a bowl of greens, steamed basmati rice, and house black daal.  My favorite dish was the chicken ruby, which was amazing, and so full of flavor.  l liked the other dishes well enough to order again, except the house black daal.  Unfortunately, I started feeling not so hot about a half hour after we left the restaurant.  It was super hot in London, and we were talking a long walk to Buckingham Palace when I realized that I needed to find a bathroom quickly.  Oddly enough, I am not sure if I was glutened, because I did not feel some of the symptoms I have had in the past, and my husband ended up with the same problem I had later in the day, so maybe it was the level of spice, and walking right after my meal in crazy heat, which never makes me feel well.

We would never have lunch or dinner at Dishoom again, but I would be tempted to go back on a future trip for dessert, because their mango and pistachio kulfi on a stick was amazing, and we also loved their cinnamon ice cream, and the Dishoom chocolate pudding served with cinnamon ice cream.  I am already missing the kulfi, which is an Indian-style ice cream, at Sanaa at Disney World, so I was excited to find it at Dishoom.

The day we took a train to see Windsor Castle, we ate at Cote Brasserie, which is a short walk from the castle.  The gluten free menu is pretty extensive, and states that although they use flour and other ingredients containing gluten in their kitchen, processes and training are in place to ensure that all options on the gluten free menu are gluten free.  Cote Brasserie has several locations in London and around the U.K., and is accredited by Coeliac UK.

 I ordered the steak frites with chargrilled minute steak, frites, and garlic butter.  My fries were great, and my steak was tender and cooked well, but could have used a little more seasoning.

For dessert, I had the dark chocolate pot, but substituted cream for the the creme fraiche this dish is usually served with.  The words that come to mind to describe this dessert are sinful and delicious.  The chocolate pot was super rich and creamy, and complimented well by the cream.

Overall, I was really impressed by all the gluten free options available in London, and we did not even get to go to all the restaurants and bakeries I wanted to try.  I found the Find Me Gluten Free app, and the following blogs to be very helpful: The Gluten Free SuitcaseThe Sightseeing Coeliac Gluten Free in LondonGluten Free Cuppa TeaForever Free FromThe Coeliac PlateGluten Free Mrs D, and Glutenshe,  I also followed these bloggers and others on Instagram to get ideas for where to dine.  Restaurants and bakeries on my list that I did not get to try include Artisan Gluten Free BakeryCookies and ScreamManna DewBorough 22 Doughnuts, MommiHonest Burgers, and Pho (only the last two are not 100% gluten free).

What are your favorite places to dine gluten free in London?


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