Australia may be the land down under but is it a land of gluten free living? With thousands of tourists visiting here every year, hopefully you will find a good suggestion of somewhere to eat or stay.
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North Shore, Sydney View On Map
My partner came across this restaurant sometime last week when he was waiting around for me. The first question he asked was "Do you have gluten free food?" He assured me that the wait staffs were 100% confident that most of their menu was gluten free. So, last Saturday we decided to head over to La Piazza for some warm winter food. Parking was easy, even finding the place was pretty straight forward, which was a nice change because we have had some doozies in the past with parking and location. La Piazza has both outside and indoors seating. We were unlucky due to the rain, so we chose a table inside. It would be nice to go back in Summer on a warm night and enjoy the stars, or even on a sunny day for lunch.
Upon ordering my first question for the waitress was obvious. "What is gluten free?" I was pretty surprised to hear that I could eat any of the pasta sauces with gluten free spaghetti, most pizza toppings with a gluten free base and a whole array of other dishes. This was the first time in Sydney I have been able to eat out and choose from so many dishes I was a little unravelled and it took me quite some time to decide. We started off by ordering entrees and what better way to kick things off with than big bowls of hot soup. There was not a gluten free bread option, but that is pretty standard at any restaurant. My soup almost matched my Mum's tomato and basil soup, but Mum knows how to add that real Italian kick to it.
For mains I got a little adventurous and ordered the seafood casserole because I wanted to see if I would actually get real seafood and not some cheap frozen marinara mix. It seems most restaurants charge through the roof for seafood dishes and I am always disappointed with the lack of seafood plated up. La Piazza is something rare and I hope it does not change. Why? Because my seafood casserole was jam packed with quality seafood. The dish had Balmain bugs, crab, mussels, squid, prawns and scallops all within a thick and chunky tomato sauce. The seafood tasted great. Plus the sauce had a great taste that just kept me coming for more and more.
Would we go back to La Piazza? That is a definite yes! Next time though I think we should try lunch when the sun is out and the birds are singing. Also, La Piazza does do take away if you would prefer to have a night in.
Now I had come well prepared. A few days earlier I had emailed the restaurant and double-checked there were gluten free meals available. It turned out that I could eat EVERYTHING on the menu apart from two or three dishes that had gluten. Even better was the fact that not many of the dishes had dairy. I finally had entered a restaurant, which was a smorgasbord.
I skipped entrée as the group was eating pita bread with dips. The entrée looked great, but it was soaked in gluten. Meanwhile, I ordered a glass of the house red. It never came during the entrée, so I continued to drink water and gradually get hungrier. Minutes before the mains arrived the restaurant owner realized my wine had been missed. I was stunned to be offered a free glass of house wine for waiting. That wiped away any complaints that had started to creep into my thoughts.
Moments later out came the mains. What I loved about the food was the home cooked feel that radiated from the plates. The portions were large and the smells comforting. I felt like I was home again. The restaurant atmosphere was not a snobby, a la Carte affair, but one that made me feel relaxed amongst my friends. Charles had ordered the lamb casserole, which he raved was "yum yum yum". The meat was tender, the portion large and the sauce delicious. I ordered the lamb kleftiko that was served up hot, steamy and smelling wonderfully. The meal was a great home cooked dish, which I loved on a cold autumn's night. The dish was simple but had great flavours, which were accompanied by the tender meat that fell off the bone. From there it just melted in my mouth.
Overall, I had a great time at Kouzina Greco and I am sure my friends did as well. The restaurant served deliciously large meals accompanied by a warm and friendly atmosphere. If you are looking for easy gluten free or allergy free dining then Kouzina Greco is definitely worth a try.
Fisherman's Wharf Chinese Restaurant
Much to my delight, there was no need to be concerned, I could eat just about everything! The great thing about the Yum Cha at Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant at the Sydney Fish Markets is that they use cornflour for everything. They also said that I could have the soy and oyster sauce though I was still slightly unsure about this so steered clear of the dishes which contained it.
I really liked the spinach and prawn dumplings and therefore could have gone without the plain prawn ones. We ordered a lot of food so there was plenty to try! One of my favourite savory dishes of the day was the salt & pepper prawns. They were deliciously crunchy and you could eat the entire prawn. The sticky rice was nice but not one of my favourites. It was also good to have some greens amongst all the carbs! I really liked the sugar syrup which came with the silken tofu but overall the dish did nothing for me. And.. I finally got up the courage to try of the chicken feet however they were a bit fatty and fiddly for my liking! The deep fried wonton, prawn parcels and steamed pork parcels were nice but not my favourites. I really enjoyed the water chestnut cake, especially the different texture of the water chestnut pieces. I didn't mind the taro and turnip cakes however they were not my favourites.
We then moved onto dessert (there is a separate compartment in your stomach for dessert ok! Or at least that's what I used to tell my parents...). I would have liked a bit more red bean paste in the Jin Deui but they were nice enough. The egg tarts were deliciously warm and melted in your mouth but mango pancakes are my absolute favourite Yum Cha dessert. I was very upset when I (thought) I wouldn't be able to eat these again! The crepes are chilled and have a great smooth texture. Mixed with the fresh cream and delicious fresh mango they are a must try! I also really enjoyed the mango coconut buns and the mango pudding.
Manta Ray Cafe
Romano's Italian Restaurant
The Technology Park Hotel
Last Friday night I convinced my Mum, that we should go and check it out. We grabbed two window seats and started with a glass of wine each.
First impressions were that the place was beautifully done, it wasn't actually too noisy and that the staff were some of the nicest we had come across. Even better, these impressions were exceeded throughout the night.
There are two food menus at the hotel, the bar menu and the tapas menu. Mum instantly laid eyes on the salt & pepper squid from the tapas menu and even though I suspected I would not be able to have it we decided to get a couple of tapas plates to share (having one dish to ourselves so Mum could have her salt & pepper squid!). Once we had decided what we would like from the likely gluten free dishes I went up to order with a couple of options in mind. The staff were very knowledgeable regarding the gluten free items and to share we settled on the fetta, beetroot and walnut salad and grilled haloumi with eggplant salsa. For my 'main' I chose the chicken chorizo and Mum had her salt & pepper squid.
The food came out quite quickly and it all looked amazing and tasted even better! The salad was fresh, tasty and the perfect amount for two. I absolutely love haloumi and so knew this would be a winner - however I didn't know what to expect from the eggplant salsa (which actually has a name but I can't remember it!). The salsa contained eggplant and pine nuts among other ingredients and went well without drowning out the flavour of the halomi (we couldn't have that!). The chicken chorizo was perfectly cooked, flavoursome and the mustard aioli went perfectly with it.
Sydney Fine Food Company Cafe
Last time I went to the cafe I didn't have any cash on me and they have a $10 minimum so I had to buy up large (what a shame!). I chose a florentine and almond, orange and poppyseed log (not sure if that is what you would call it!). The florentine was very yummy and though they only had milk chocolate on this particular day they often have a choice of what chocolate you would like (dark, milk or white). But my favourite was the almond, orange and poppyseed log - It was dipped in milk chocolate and was a soft, slightly chewy texture. It was absolutely delicious and I definitely could have gone back for another. Both treats were washed down very nicely with a delicious Chai latte.
At this point you may be wondering what the something extra (which I mentioned at the beginning of this post) Sydney Fine Food Company Cafe offers. Well the cafe is located on the corner of Buckland and Wyndham streets across from Alexandria Park and if you want to eat your treats in the park you can borrow a picnic rug from the cafe for free! I haven't done this yet but definitely a great idea for a sunny day.
Taglio Pizza Kitchen
Having had a look at the menu before going I was expecting to only be able to have a salad but I was quite happy with that (you learn to love salads being gluten free).
Talgio is a cute and cozy restaurant with some wonderful artwork on the wall and the waiters were all very friendly and helpful. I asked our waiter what items on the menu were gluten free and he said they probably had some gluten free pasta so he would go and check. Much to my delight they did! After some umming and arring I decided on the Spaghetti Marinara with gluten free pasta. Mum said that she was thinking about having this too and I suggested that we share a pasta and a salad. She has some reservations about the gluten free pasta however I convinced her that it isn't that different. We decided on the Taglio Salad (mixed lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, bocconcini and eggplant) to go with our pasta. The waiter told us that the gluten free pasta would take about 1/2 an hour (not quite sure why..) so we decided on a Antipasto Vegetarian to start.
Obviously I couldnt eat the bread (Mum ate one piece as she felt bad leaving it all!) but everything else was safe. I really enjoyed this however I could have gone without the bocconcini. I find that served plain it has no flavour and is a bit of a waste of calories! Needless to say everything else on the platter was gobbled up rather quickly.
About 15 minutes later (not the expected 1/2 an hour) our pasta and salad came out. The salad was delicious and between us we managed to finish it (apart from the bocconcini which once again I could have gone without). The pasta was also very nice - luckily for us there were two of the octopus and scallops and plenty of prawns and squid. Mum didn't complain about the gluten free pasta (however I'm not sure if she was just being nice!). Even between two of us we didn't manage to finish this dish so overall it was a filling and reasonably priced meal.
Art Lounge Cafe
The breakfast was presented beautifully and was very yummy. I loved how it came with three spears of fried asparagus, rather than spinach leaves or tomato as often the case with eggs benedict.
The staff at Art Lounge Cafe are very friendly (and happy to tell you the ingredients of the sauces etc to determine if they are gluten free) and the service is quick.
Berwick Fish and Chips
Since we were here last, they've updated the menu to include GF indications. Nice! I like to think that my millions of questions to the waitstaff played a part in this.
I had hash stack with lemony rocket, hash, ham(or salmon), avo, tomato, poached egg and asparagus. It's a huge plate but I was up for the challenge. Delicious. The fresh rocket and the carby crunchiness of the hash are so perfect together. I love to dip my asparagus spears into the runny centre of the perfecty(every time!) poached egg. yum yum.
Austi Beach Cafe
We arrived at the Austi Beach Cafe and were given the option of choosing the $35pp set menu which included 7 courses (including dessert) or choosing a number of plates off the menu. We decided that the set menu was the way to go as our group consisted of 11 people and it was going to be too hard otherwise.
I checked with the waitress that it was possible to substitute the dishes I couldn't eat (about 4 of them) with gluten free options and she said that this would be fine, apart from the dessert which I had to have two scoops of gelato instead of the bread and butter pudding with gelato (I wasn't complaining!). Needless to say I was very excited by this, especially the fact that they had gluten free bread.
Overall it was a wonderful night of wonderful food and I was very impressed with the waitresses' knowledge of gluten free foods and how willing they were to accommodate my food needs. I was highly satisfied by the end of the meal and didn't need to go home and find more food to eat! The cafe is in a great setting and they often have a live band at night. I would definitely recommend a visit!
We wandered in and asked what they had, they were able to offer eggs on toast as they had gluten free bread, now I know this does not sound like much but the waitress was fantastic and was willing to work with us regarding how to cook my sons eggs, as he likes them whipped like you would an ommlette and just fried in the pan. I heard her talk to the chef and when they came out they were enhaled by my son, WINNER.
We were also able to check the ingredients on the hot chocolate tin and found this also to be gluten free, so eggs on toast were followed by hot chocolate and we had one happy boy.
So if you're ever down Apollo Bay way pop in and visit the willing staff and enjoy a great experience.
The Wayzgoose Cafe
I decided to have a mango smoothie which the waiter highly recommended and a char-grilled vegetable stack with haloumi. I wasn't after a big lunch having had a big breakfast and considering I love haloumi I decided this was a good choice. Both the drink and meal were amazing and just what I was after.
Next time you go to Leura don't leave without trying something at The Wayzgoose Cafe and if you aren't coeliac, gluten or dairy intolerant I urge you to try the Flowerpot Scones, they are amazing!
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