It may be our home country but that doesn't mean that we can't travel around the country and still struggle to find somewhere catering to a gluten free diet. However, plenty of great places exist so hopefully you'll find the right one for you here.
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Cambridge, Cambridgeshire View On Map
My girlfriend and I went to Cambridge this weekend for our anniversary and stayed at the excellent Hotel Felix, a modern, elegant hotel on the outskirts of the city. Graffiti, the hotel's restaurant was equally modern and elegant with attentive service. We'd booked it well before I found out I was gluten free, so this was going to be the first test, and I was very impressed. The menu had a star next to all the dishes which were suitable for coeliacs and a diamond against those that they could adapt to make gluten free. The menu wasn't restrictive with the majority of dishes already gluten free.
The menu was also very inventive. For starter, I had Baby Squid stuffed with Chorizo on a bed of Tomato which had real tasty Spanish flavours. My girlfriend had Ballotine of Goose with Roast Pear, Port Syrup and Goose Scratchings which was equally as good. The main courses were the real highlight. I had Roast Breast of Mallard, Confit Leg Boudin, Potato Rosti, Brussel Sprout Chiffonade and Plum and Orange Jus. The breast was cooked perfectly and the Leg Boudin (a duck sausage) was sensational, absolutely packed with meaty flavour. The Rosti was all caramelised on the outside and had a great texture. My girlfriend had Fillet and Braised Blade of Tilbury Beef, Shallot Tart Tatin, Crisp Bone Marrow and Cavalo Nero which received equal plaudits. The only let down of the dish was the Bone Marrow which was a crispy nugget, lacking any real filling. Neither of us could resist the Bitter Chocolate Delice with Rapsberry Ripple Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce which tasted as fantastic as it looked.
The restaurant clearly seemed to have a gluten-free influence and with an increasing number of people eating gluten free they're on to a winner. Providing me with a gluten free bread roll was real attention to detail and the bread is probably the best wheat free bread I've tried!
On arrival we were met and shown to our lovely, spacious room. We arranged what time we wanted breakfast and the following morning headed down. They had managed to source a gluten free muesli that we had never seen in any stores near us and thanks to the good range of options, a heart breakfast was had. At the end of the holiday she was more than willing to let us take the cereal with us.
B&B's can sometimes be a bit hit or miss but we would definitely suggest Plas Mawr.
We headed straight down there and on arrival we found a very pleasant pub with just one other couple there. We had read that we should try to book in adavance but chanced our arm and there was a table for us. However, by the time that we left then the pub was almost full, always a good sign!
Often when eating in a pub then options can be limited but at the Black Lion there were actually too many!!! Eventually we settled on a steak and duck in plum sauce, both of which were delicious meals. If staying in nearby Machynlleth or Aberystwyth I would really go out of your way to visit the Black Lion.
London Bridge Hotel
Today was no exception, and we could tell from other tables that we were not alone in our appreciation. The wine list is excellent and there are half bottles, good house wines by the glass, which is very good for us at lunch and driving. Cassons has great individuality, and a personal touch, which we like very much. Their gluten free bread, the excellent sweets, we can't fault them. We were recently disappointed elsewhere and are so relieved to find Cassons always reliable. If on a budget, I would rather come here once than have two inferior meals elsewhere. As I come from a catering background, I am hard to please. And no relation to the owners!!
The Mad Hatters
We entered the very friendly tea shop which was filled with tea pots of every possibly type imaginable. The place was packed and lucky for us the only available table was in the window.
After a long drive (and the prospect of another 2 hours to go), opening the menu to see such a long list of gluten free options made me very happy! Of course, I went for a gluten free Cornish pasty. It came served with either baked beans or salad. I went for baked beans - they were Heinz and gluten free. How did it taste? Delicious and definitely worth driving 3 hours for! The gluten free pastry was very flavoursome and had herbs (maybe rosemary?) in it. The pasty filling was the traditional beef, potato, swede and onion combo.
The other thing I found really interesting about The Mad Hatters was the other patrons in the tea shop. Many people think eating gluten free is a lifestyle choice, and not a medical requirement or a necessity for a healthy life. A number of the other clients in the tea shop were in the more mature age range and I could hear at least one person on each table ordering a gluten free item. I'm fairly certain for my fellow diners, the need to eat gluten free was not a lifestyle choice. I'm amazed that gluten free pasties weren't more easily available in Cornwall. Based on how busy The Mad Hatters tea shop was, there is clearly a demand.
Launceston is located just off the main A30 going straight into Cornwall. If you're travelling down to Cornwall for a holiday, it really is an easy stop off. Why waste your time in motorway service stations when you can visit somewhere as fabulous as this? If you're en route to a self catering holiday cottage The Mad Hatters can also provide gluten free items to stock up on for your holiday to either freeze or eat straight away. Just pre order and then stop off to collect! No need to miss out on a Cornish pasty or scone just because you can't eat gluten.
Dolls House Restaurant
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
The meal out was hassle-free - a big change to many experiences of eating out as a Coeliac - and added to the enjoyment of a great weekend away in Bristol :-)
I recommend GBK not just to Coeliacs - but to 'normal' people too ;-) I hope I am able to eat at other branches of both in the future too. We have conformed that all GBK can cater for Gluten Free.
Luna and Simone Hotel
The rooms are small - but you would expect this at the price - and they are very clean and cosy with modern bathrooms and comfortable beds, as well as tea/coffee making facility and flat screen TV in the room. This is a family run hotel and it shows, as nothing is too much trouble for the owners, Peter and his brother, who are always extremely friendly and helpful.
Pimlico is a great area in which to stay - quiet and attractive, yet within easy walking distance of Westminster and the South Bank - alternatively a bus stops right outside the hotel, and Pimlico and Victoria tube stations are five to ten minutes walk away, as well as Victoria main line station and Bus Station.
All in all another very lovely stay and would not hesitate to recommend this hotel.
The Soho Hotel
Well, all these gluten free fantasies and more await you at The Soho Hotel.
I've been to the funky and glamourous five star Soho Hotel a dozen or so times since it's opening in 2004, mainly to the screening rooms downstairs or to perch at the bar when I fancied a decadent and delicious late night cocktail.
I was totally unaware of of all of their gluten free offerings. Upon a friend mentioning to me gluten free items at breakfast I booked myself in to investigate further. It was a gluten free treasure trove. Once I started asking questions the excellent staff explained the wealth of products on offer; from GF pasta at lunch to three different (and delicious) types of gluten free bread from artisan baker Droppa and Droppa. Sundried tomato and basil bread anyone?
The executive chef Robin Read is incredibly knowledgeable about the gluten free diet. They've made it their mission to cater for all kinds of different diets - whether you are a gluten free vegan or lactose intolerant and on the atkin's diet - it's no problem. A lot of energy goes into training the staff. They understand that being gluten free doesn't mean that you are carb-free or any of the other diets that other staff often get confused by (how many times have you had an earnest waiter tell you they can serve you something without the potatoes? No no, I can have those! What does a lady have to to for some carbohydrates around here?) The staff clarity is fantastic and you feel able to trust them completely. This is one of the reasons they don't have GF marked on the menus (apart from the gluten free breakfast), the staff are trained to pick up on details and ask. I must say that I wouldn't even think to ask for GF pasta if I didn't see some indication on the menu. But, what the hey, if every wish can be catered for then hooray for that. Just remember to be vocal.
They are also very aware of cross-contamination issues and are even working to create a separate gluten free prep section.
My breakfast was excellent. I couldn't get enough of the savory spinach and goat's cheese muffin. Really moist and flavoursome. The poppy seed toast was flawless, far better than most I've tried. Light but not dried out at all. As part of the gluten free breakfast I had a gluten free muesli complete with fresh apple and almond shavings, topped with blueberries, which was light and refreshing. The breakfast came with a healthy smoothie and fruit pot of apricots and prunes. I must say I felt very smug for being so nutritious, but I was eyeing someone else's egg's benedict with envy, it would be great on gf toast! Next time, that's why there's always a next time.
We all know that hotel dining isn't cheap, but you are paying for a first class service. If you are coming to London for business and want the perfect Gluten Free luxury hotel - The Soho Hotel has to be it. It's definitely on my list for breakfast meetings in the future. Also to note, the bar menu is fantastic and price accessible- if I'm there for some after work drinks and get peckish I'll be having a £7 bacon and egg sandwich, or a £8.50 Croque Monsieur. There is also a gluten free afternoon tea, with all the wonderful little cakes and sandwiches everyone else gets and an innovative "fruit tea" that's gluten free too. I'm sure I'll get around to trying that and their dinner menu in the near future.
Later that day we headed back for dinner and I ordered the very good 'Plain & Simple' Burgers - two Burgers and Salad. Very tasty they were too (as was the Mai Tai Cocktail).
The Spotted Cow
Infinity Foods Cafe