Gluten Free Dublin – Part 3

Antoinette Gluten Free Dublin

Antoinette’s Bakery is that Holy Grail for coeliacs – a fully gluten-free bakery. And with tasty treats to purchase. It’s just off Camden Street, near St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Stephen’s Green. I always make a pilgrimmage when I’m in Dublin to stock up. They also seem to do very good coffee, but that’s not something I can comment on personally. Highlights from my visits include cinnamon cakes, cookies, lemon cake, and a ‘Yes’ cupcake from the gay marriage referendum. And world’s most awesome bag for life.

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My most recent trip to Dublin included dinner at Green 19, also on Camden Street. I’d been years ago before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease and enjoyed their food, so was delighted to see that they had gluten free listed right on their menu. There’s even gluten free beer (Bru Lager). It’s another great place for coeliacs who don’t want to feel like they’re dragging their friends to a random restaurant just because it serves gluten free food. Our Dublin friends go there even when I’m not around. And the food is amazingly tasty. I had some awesome pork belly with potatoes and vegetables, a description which does not do the meal justice. The chocolate brownie, while usually the stereotypical gluten free offering, was a hit with my ‘normal’ friends and definitely worth a try. Apologies for the bad photos, it’s a problem of hipster restaurants that there’s never enough light…

Looking for more Dublin reviews? Check out parts one and two of my Dublin posts.

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Eat’n’Mess – Gluten Free Cafe

Followers of my Instagram will have realised that I am a big fan of planning long walks on weekends that JUST HAPPEN to include visits to gluten free hot spots. I’ve dragged my friends, my family and my boyfriend around a large number of places just so I can try a new or favourite place. A coeliac has to do what a coeliac has to do for gluten free food!

Last weekend, with the sun finally shining, we headed off to Sevenoaks. 30 minutes south of London in Kent, Sevenoaks is a pretty commuter town. For walking purposes it has two National Trust houses (Knole and Ightham Mote) within 5 miles. For gluten free purposes, it has Eat’n’Mess, a gluten-free cafe in the town centre. Eat’n’Mess opened in Sevenoaks in 2015, though their baked goods are also available at Broadway Market (Hackney) on Saturdays. I’ve been lucky enough to try some of their things in Hackney so was looking forward to visiting the cafe.

Gluten free baked goods

So many gluten free baked goods!

The cafe itself is very cute, and was doing a roaring take-away trade at 10.30 on Saturday morning. It is mostly baked goods, although gluten free bread loaves are now available. They also do non-gluten free, but dairy free, bread. Everything is labelled and the non-gluten free stuff is far away from the gluten free (which is all the baked goods), but just advanced warning! Breakfast is available to eat in the cafe, including eggs, bacon, beans on toast, etc. but we’d already eaten. Looked like a nice place for brunch though.

Gluten free bread

My favourite Eat’n’Mess treat is their cookie pie. Two peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, sandwiched around icing, with salted caramel sauce in the middle. YUM. The caramel makes the cookies slightly softer as you get to the middle. It is a very large amount of sugar, but if you’re out for a 10 mile walk that’s okay, right?! It is also so tasty that it would be worth it even without the 10 mile walk.

Gluten free cookie pie

In addition to their cookie pie, I also tried the gingerbread man, lemon and white chocolate cookie, and s’mores chocolate pie. (Not all in one day, I must add. Even I have a sugar limit). The cookies were both tasty, even though my poor gingerbread man fell apart in my bag before I got to him! The s’more pie wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping. My piece was an edge piece so only half covered with marshmallow, so the chocolate was a bit overwhelming. Would definitely go for the cookie pie every time.

Sevenoaks is a very quick trip out of London and made for a lovely day out. Would definitely recommend a pilgrimmage to Eat’n’Mess over the summer if you fancy some gluten free treats. Or just brave the hipsters of Hackney on a Saturday and you can get your gluten free fix without leaving London! Eat’n’Mess also do beautiful gluten free cupcakes and celebration cakes if you’re looking for something a bit special. You can see a three-tier cake in the window of the cafe in first photo on this post, and their website has photos of plenty more.

 

Salisbury – Gluten Free Travel

I’m back! And once again determined to actually publish the large number of half-finished blog posts in my queue… But starting fresh now with my gluten free trip to Salisbury (in south-west England) that I took over the Bank Holiday weekend. I did my usually thorough internet searching before we left and didn’t find huge amounts of information, so hopefully this will be helpful to other coeliacs visiting Salisbury.

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral, with a hint of the windiness of the weekend in the clouds.

My first recommendation is to stay in an Airbnb. Then you know that a fridge and kitchen is available, so you can always have snacks on hand and a place to eat breakfast safely. We stayed in a beautiful one-bedroom house that I would desperately love to live in permanently.

Marks & Spencer gluten free sandwich

Staying in an Airbnb means you can have a leftover M&S BLT sandwich for breakfast!

 

On our first day we took the Stonehenge Tour bus to Stonehenge, which is about 30 minutes from the rail station. We were planning on doing some walking but the weather was very changeable and we spent a while sitting in the cafe waiting for the rain to stop! The English Heritage website says that the cafe does gluten-free sandwiches, soups, salads, cakes, etc. Unfortunately that is overstating the case quite a bit. The cafe worker looked panicked when I asked about gluten free options, and there were no sandwiches available. She said the soup was okay but there was no gluten free bread, and pointed out two of the salads (ploughman and smoked salmon). However there were no ingredients listed on any of the packaged salads. I went for the ploughman but didn’t have the dressing, just in case. In reality the plougman consisted of two large slices of cheese with a lot of leaves. Not great! Especially since I’d been expecting many more options.

Stonehenge gluten free salad

You can see how the ploughman salad was literally just cheese and leaves!

Foods of Athenry gluten free snack box

Luckily the Foods of Athenry snack box saved me.

Luckily, I am also an experienced coeliac and had planned on the cafe not having the options they had listed on the website. So I’d also brought along this Foods of Athenry snack pack that I’d purchased at the Galway Food Festival in March.It included hummus, gluten-free crackers, a fruit and nut mix, and a brownie. Not cheap but everything was tasty and it was great to have on hand. They are also available on Aer Lingus flights as the gluten free option, which is great.

In Salisbury itself we tried three restaurants. The first was The Cosy Club, a small chain that has outposts in many of the provincial cities including Salisbury, Bath, Derby, Exeter and Leicester. They have a specific gluten free menu, with the style of food being modern British-esque (they have a tapas menu but also pork belly and fish and chips). We went for dinner one night and I had the tapas tortilla to start and the pork belly for main. The tortilla came with a gluten free roll in place of the normal bread, which is always a plus.

Gluten free tapas Cosy Club

Spanish tortilla with gluten free bread

Gluten free dinner Cosy Club

Pork belly with mash, peas, shallots and lots of greens.

We also went to The Cosy Club for brunch on Sunday, as it seems like Salisbury hasn’t quite caught onto the brunch phenomenon yet! I had a bacon and fried egg sandwich, again on the same gluten free bread (possibly Genius?). The food was good, if not out-of-this-world, both times and they had tasty cocktails when we were there for dinner. Always good to see another restaurant having a separate menu and I would definitely go again.

Gluten free bacon roll

Bacon and egg roll on gluten free bread

The other non-nationwide chain restaurant in Salisbury that I tried was Greengages Cafe. It is an old-fashioned-style cafe (ie no fancy decorations or random kitchen utensils in frames on the walls) that has a huge range of gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. They do breakfast and lunch, but unfortunately they were closed on Sunday so I only got to go once. I had a bacon, brie and cranberry sandwich, which definitely seemed to be their most popular option from the number of people around me who ordered it! Would really have liked to try more of their food and would highly recommend it to any coeliacs going to Salisbury.

Gluten free sandwich

Brie, bacon and cranberry gluten free sandwich

Gluten free sandwich

So much tasty filling…

The third restaurant that we tried in Salisbury was Prezzo. Prezzos are curiously hard to find in London, and since my last visit (about 3 years ago) they have been accredited by Coeliac UK and now do gluten free pasta as well as pizza. It was freezing and pouring on the night we went for dinner, so luckily they do very large portions! They now have a separate gluten free menu, so be sure to ask for it when you arrive. The chain restaurants can often fail on providing gluten free starters so I was very excited to try the gf garlic bread with caramelised onions and cheese. It was tasty, though maybe heavier on the caramelised onions flavour than garlic.

Gluten free garlic bread

Definitely looks like ‘normal’ restaurant garlic bread!

For my main I wanted to try some of their gluten free baked pasta, which is not something you often see on menus. Unfortunately there may be a reason for this, as after I’d ordered the manager came over and said they’d had complaints from gluten free eaters that the pasta was too dry after it had gone in the over, so they recommended serving it non-baked! There was also some concern over whether the cheese they normally use on top was gluten free, so the manager said she’d made sure the cheese was safe. It was good to have people keep checking, though also a bit concerning that they weren’t sure about the cheese. But the only after-effect was feeling ill from eating too much food over the weekend and I can only blame myself for that.

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Not quite as baked as I might have hoped for from ‘baked pasta’

The last place I would recommend for gluten free treats in Salisbury is Cupcake Heaven. They have a small but lovely selection of gluten free cupcakes, which are kept in a separate part of the counter area away from the gluten-full treats. I may have tried a number of their gluten free flavours, all of which were tasty. Especially if, like me, you’re a big fan of icing.

Overall it was easy to eat as a coeliac in Salisbury. If we’d been there longer, all of the nationwide-chains that do gluten free options (Cote, Zizzi, etc) were available. I didn’t find any other independents that did gluten free food, but please leave a comment if you know of any other options in Salisbury!

 

Artisan Gluten Free Bakery – Review

UPDATE – Since I wrote this review Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery has changed their name to Artisan Gluten Free Bakery. Their website can now be found here. Their bread is also now available at Whole Foods in London (I’ve found it in Picadilly Circus and Richmond), and (as of May 2016) they should be starting mail orders soon. I haven’t been back to the cafe in a few months but I know they’ve been working on the menu and staff. Will report back when I finally get a chance to pop by! In the mean time, I will continue buying their bread wherever I find it. It’s best fresh, untoasted, with butter…

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I live and work near Angel so I am lucky enough to have the fully-gluten free Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery pretty close by. The bakery is at the Highbury end of Upper Street, near Islington Town Hall. There is a Romeo’s Sugar Free Bakery a few doors further down, so make sure you go to the right one! Romeo’s opened about 18 months ago and has gained a reputation within the gluten free community for their fantastic bread. There is an eat-in cafe, serving sandwiches, brunch and lunch mains, as well as a large assortment of breads and baked goods to take away.

The AMAZING avocado, bacon, cheese and salad sandwich. Personal favourite.

The AMAZING avocado, bacon, cheese and salad sandwich. Personal favourite.

I have been to Romeo’s many times and I have always enjoyed my food. However this is a review of two parts. The first is that the bread, sandwiches and baked goods at Romeo’s are awesome (if expensive) and I would highly recommend it. The second, unfortunately, is that the service is bafflingly incompetent sometimes. I still go to Romeo’s frequently because I really enjoy their food, but you do have to be prepared.

The best part of Romeo’s is the bread. It comes in a variety of flavours, including my favourites: onion, and cheese and chive. It is soft and squidgy and everything you could want in bread. It’s great toasted and EVEN BETTER fresh. Anyone who’s eaten gluten free bread knows that this is the Holy Grail. It’s expensive but worth it for an occasional treat. The sandwiches however are very good value, with great bread and a lot of fillings, so I would recommend them even more.

Sunday brunch using Romeo's onion bread.

Sunday brunch using Romeo’s onion bread.

The cakes and brownies from Romeo’s are also very good. There’s usually a large selection of cakes by the slice, including chocolate with Nutella icing, banana with salted caramel, red velvet, and a chocolate vegan cake for those who are gluten and dairy free.

Banana cake with salted caramel icing.

Banana cake with salted caramel icing.

In addition to my own visits I went to Romeo’s for a Gluten Free Gathering in April (full review of GF Gatherings to come!). It was the first time they’d held an event but I thought they did relatively well. They originally served the bread toasted, but when we said we preferred it untoasted they brought out a huge supply for us to try. We were also allowed to choose our dessert item from the entire range of Romeo’s baked goods that they had out, which I thought was an inspired touch. However the main courses did not live up to the bread and cake. I had the quiche and thought that the pastry was quite rubbery, a sentiment echoed by others. The breaded escalope got better reviews. This was the first time I tried anything at Romeo’s other than a sandwich or the pancakes and I thought it wasn’t worth it.

Red velvet cake and banana cake at the Gathering, with a cameo appearance by the lovely Issi of Gluten Free in London!

Red velvet cake and banana cake at the Gathering, with a cameo appearance by the lovely Issi of Gluten Free in London!

There are however some major problems with the service at Romeo’s. Supposedly they are having problems retaining front of house staff, and there does seem to have been a lot of turnover through the times I’ve been. They also have a baffling system for the staff, whereby all the front of house staff (of which there are never enough) take the orders from takeaway and seated customers, then make the drinks associated with that order (including made to order juices that seem an afterthought), then take the food orders downstairs, then get the baked goods out. This means that if there are a lot of takeaway customers or a lot of drink orders it can take forever to be served if you are sitting down.

I think Romeo’s would be better off focusing on bread and baked goods, rather than having a choice of main meals. Their sandwiches are just so good that they don’t really need anything else on the menu, except the pancakes for brunch purposes… They would also be better off not serving the juices and having one staff member dedicated to making coffee/tea and one for takeaway customers.

The pancakes can definitely stay on the menu.

The pancakes can definitely stay on the menu.

Also a warning that the kitchen does not stay open as late as the bakery, but nowhere do they say when it will shut! I’ve been stuck without a dinner option before when I went at 5pm, and last time we were there they were turning people away at 4pm because they couldn’t make sandwiches anymore.

I would definitely recommend Romeo’s for anyone looking for a gluten free sandwich, treat, or bread. Just be warned that the service might not be great, and I would stay away from the extraneous main meals. However the bread and cake makes up for it all!