Honest Burgers – Gluten Free Review

It’s no secret that Honest Burgers is almost revered among the London gluten free community, but I’m a huge fan so thought I’d add my voice! Honest Burgers is a small chain that started in Brixton Market and now has 17 locations around London (they open new restaurants all the time so see the current list of locations here). It was among the earlier ‘one dish only’ restaurants in London, in this case obviously burgers. Very good burgers with their secret weapon: rosemary-salted chips (fries).

Honest Burgers gluten free

My personal favourites are the American Tribute and the vegetarian fritter. I know that ordering the vegetarian option could seem controversial in a restaurant known for their fabulous beef burgers, but it is really tasty. The onion rings are also coeliac-friendly and have a great paprika-flavoured batter. The gluten free bun holds up well and doesn’t crumble everywhere, which is necessary when you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to fit the burger in your mouth. The staff are clued up to gluten free and ask if it’s a lifestyle choice or an allergy. There’s also gluten free beer available if you so desire, as well as a small but good selection of cocktails.

Honest Burgers has saved me so many times because it’s a great option when you’re out with friends and don’t want to have to feel like you’re the ‘weird coeliac’ and can’t go anywhere fun. Everyone I’ve taken to Honest has loved it, and it feels like a hipster-ish restaurant while not being too pretentious. Would love to see more restaurants like it, and thanks Honest for being honestly awesome for coeliacs.

Eat.Sleep.Pilates and Doisy & Dam at Printworks Kitchen

One of the best parts about being forced to go gluten free has been the opportunity to meet all sorts of people who have started their own businesses around their passions.

Printworks Kitchen in Clerkenwell is one of those places. Opened last year by Catherine and Danielle, Printworks offers a range of tasty salads and proteins for weekday lunches, with the options almost always gluten free and with ever-so-tempting gluten free baked goods from Sweetcheeks (also run by Catherine). I will do a full review of Printworks at some point soon, because it’s such a great lunch option, and tasty salads deserve lots of photos.

Printworks Kitchen salads

Love the tasty salads

But about two months ago I got to enjoy those salads while also doing pilates and a chocolate tasting. Perfect evening or what?! Printworks partners with other small businesses to offer evening workshops, including flower arranging, food pop-ups, and pilates. The workshop was run by Vanisha, who set up Eat.Sleep.Pilates after doing an pilates instructor course while between jobs in banking. I do a pilates class once a week and felt that I could do all the moves without really pushing myself, but that I was still getting a workout. Vanisha was really good about explaining the moves and moving slowly if anyone was having problems. It was the right pace for me for an after-work class.

After pilates we got to eat gorgeous salads from Printworks. All of the salads were gluten free so I didn’t feel leftout at all.

 

Printworks kitchen salad

The final part of the evening was a chocolate tasting run by Nat and Alexa from Doisy & Dam. I’ve purchased some of their chocolate before on Ocado and was interested to hear more about the company and their ethos. Couldn’t believe that there are only 6 people working at Doisy & Dam, just goes to show how much can be accomplished by a small number of people. Doisy & Dan are trying to recreate the ideas of some famous commercial chocolate bars, but using good quality chocolate and superfood ingredients. For example, their Date and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt bar does taste a lot like a salted caramel chocolate bar! I was more interested in the fact that all their chocolate is gluten free, which other coeliacs will know can be difficult to find. I spoke to Nat and Alexa afterwards to tell them how important it was to me that all the chocolate was gluten free, and they said that originally it was just because the founders didn’t see the need for gluten in chocolate. I wish other chocolatiers felt the same… So hopefully Doisy & Dam will continue to make all their products gluten free in the future.

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For the chocolate tasting we got to have melted milk and dark chocolate on dairy free coconut yoghurt from The Coconut Collaborative. I’d never tried the yoghurt before but it was really good, and gluten and soy free too. It worked really well as a complete dessert with the strawberries and chocolate. We also got to put our own Doisy & Dam toppings on our chocolate. I tried cocoa nibs, pink salt, puffed quinoa and coconut.

All in all I had a great time at the Eat.Sleep.Pilates workshop at Printworks Kitchen with Doisy & Dam. I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for events run by any of the three businesses!

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.

 

Niche – Gluten Free Restaurant Review

Words to bring joy to the heart of any London coeliac: ‘fully gluten free restaurant’. They’re multiplying! Now embracing the wonders of a completely gluten free restaurant is Niche, next to Sadler’s Wells theatre and on the border between Farringdon and Angel.

If you are anyone eating gluten free in London (or can come down for any sort of visit), you must visit Niche. The restaurant itself was light and airy, the staff were friendly, the menu had a great range of choice, and the food was fantastic.

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I had been meaning to try Niche for weeks, since hearing that it was now all gluten free and checking out their awesome menu, but even though I live and work a 10 minute walk away I hadn’t quite gotten through the door. So with a free weekend I was determined to make it for brunch. Niche serves brunch Saturday and Sunday until 3pm and, in a rarity for the hipster brunch spots of Clerkenwell and Islington, takes reservations. I should note that this is a completely independent review. I received nothing from Niche except tasty food, but I’m about to use enough superlatives that my independence might be doubted…

First up was parmesan and cheddar doughnuts. Just the name on the menu sounds awesome. And when they arrived it was literally fried cheese. Very tasty fried cheese. They were served with a tomato and red pepper sauce, which my boyfriend enjoyed, but I just went straight for the cheese.

Fried cheese doughnuts. One of the few times I'll allow something served in a basket.

Fried cheese doughnuts. One of the few times I’ll allow something served in a basket.

The inside of the fried cheese.

The inside of the fried cheese.

For the mains we went for typical brunch options. My poor boyfriend even had to wait to eat his food so I could photograph it, only happens in a gluten free restaurant! He had a full English and I had eggs Benedict. Full English got a thumbs up, especially the sausages. Eggs Benedict was also awesome, with a really thick Hollandaise and crispy bacon. We both agreed that the eggs were the right consistency and with the right seasoning, which is rare at a brunch spot.

Full English, fully gluten free.

Full English, fully gluten free.

Eggs Benedict (scrambled because I don't like poached) with a side of avocado and awesome hollandaise.

Eggs Benedict (scrambled because I don’t like poached) with a side of avocado and awesome hollandaise.

Because we hadn’t eaten enough tasty things already, I insisted on dessert. Because who can resist a peanut butter and white chocolate blondie?! (Except my boyfriend. Who is weird and doesn’t like peanut butter, so only ate the ice cream. MORE FOR ME.) It was squidgy and rich and awesome. I noticed on the way out that they’re available for takeaway too…

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIE. So many good words together.

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIE. So many good words together.

But I resisted the takeaway blondie this time and instead got a chocolate chip cookie, which I later ate in the sun. Cookie was the right amount of baked (ie almost not), and the chocolate had remained gooey in the sun. It got the highest praise of ‘You wouldn’t know the difference’ from the gluten eater.

Cookie in the sun.

Cookie in the sun.

As you might be able to tell, I loved Niche. Couldn’t find anything to fault it on my first visit, and hope that will remain the same on my sure-to-be-lots of subsequent visits. Any and all gluten free people of London must visit. And take your ‘normal’ friends, they’ll never know the difference. The food is just good, in addition to being gluten free.

I decided to go for a typical brunch main on this visit but spent a long time agonising over my decision. I will have to go back many times, as I really wanted to try the cauliflower steak, the superfood salad, the beef and chorizo pie, and pretty much everything else on the menu. I will update this review as I try more. I have discovered that they do takeaway and Deliveroo, which may be great for tastiness but bad for my bank balance.

We had had brunch the day before at a hipster spot in Hackney. Where we paid a lot more for a dark restaurant, unseasoned food, and no gluten free carbs on the menu whatsoever. I will only be returning to one brunch place that I tried this weekend, and it is most definitely Niche.

La Polenteria – Gluten Free Restaurant Review

London can often feel full of chain restaurants, which can be both good and bad as a coeliac. I am often grateful for the large number of Pizza Expresses available, especially with the never-ending supply of vouchers, but I also like to support independent restaurants and eat something different! Luckily Soho has a large number of independent restaurants with gluten free options, including one of my favourites: La Polenteria.

On one visit they had balloons that you could write on. This was my contribution.

On one visit they had balloons that you could write on. This was my contribution.

La Polenteria does nothing but polenta, as might be gathered by the name, but in a huge variety of ways. Pressed and grilled polenta slices are used in place of bread for bruschetta, soft polenta is used as a base for stew, there is polenta pasta, and even desserts baked with polenta. Everything on the menu can now be gluten free, although this isn’t labelled and can be confusing, and they have been accredited by Coeliac UK.

I have been to La Polenteria numerous times over the last year so have had a thorough peruse of the menu. They have experimented with different options, including salads, sandwiches and pasta, but always have a selection of vegan, vegetarian and meat-based dishes served directly on polenta.

If you arrive before a certain time of the evening (I think 7) they do a happy hour, with small polenta tasters and fruit-based champagne cocktails to start.

Mini happy hour polenta bites.

Mini happy hour polenta bites.

Rose champagne cocktail with flower petal.

Champagne cocktail with flower petal.

I have also had the full portion of bruschetta as a starter. The polenta worked really well as a base for the tomatoes and this is definitely something I will try myself at home for parties.

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My favourite mains have been the ones with soft polenta and lots of cheese. They are very generous portions with great quality toppings. The toppings vary based on season, with more stews in the winter and vegetables in the summer, and are always tasty. And you can’t go wrong with this much cheese.

Polenta with tomatoes and an entire ball of mozzarella. Perfect for summer.

Polenta with tomatoes and an entire ball of mozzarella. Perfect for summer.

Polenta with a huge wedge of grilled cheese, very tasty Italian ham, and raspberries. So much cheese.

Polenta with a huge wedge of grilled cheese, very tasty Italian ham, and raspberries. So much cheese.

On my last visit I also tried their fresh pasta, getting the gnocchi with red pesto. I thought it was very tasty, and nice to have fresh gluten free pasta! However I think I will go back to the soft polenta next time because it’s a bit more unusual and not something I would do to the same standard at home because of the awesome toppings.

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Sometimes I have even had room for dessert (or gotten something to go…) and my favourite is this chocolate and coconut bar which is exactly like a coconut gluten free Nanaimo bar, for any other coeliac Canadians in London. (Please get in touch if you are out there, I can’t be the only one!) For those uninitiated into such delights, it’s a chocolate base (cooked with polenta here), with a coconut cream filling and chocolate ganache on top. Highly recommended.

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Word has obviously been spreading about La Polenteria, including a mention in Time Out last week, and on my last few visits it has been getting busier and busier. It’s a small location in a bustling area so I would definitely make a reservation for dinner, especially on a weekend night.

Overall I would highly recommend La Polenteria to anyone looking for a non-chain gluten free restaurant in London!