Archive for the 'Gluten Free Eating Out' category

Las Iguanas Gluten Free Menu

photo inside Las Iguanas at the Royal Festival Hall

Las Iguanas, Royal Festival Hall, London

So we found ourselves at Las Iguanas restaurant at the Royal Festival Hall in London last week, one of thirty Las Iguanas restaurants across the UK.

Serving up dishes packed full of Latin America flavours, Las Iguanas has something you don’t often see in South American restaurants: a gluten free menu.

Now, if you’re looking forward to munching down on gluten free enchiladas, gluten free burritos, or gluten free fajitas you may be a little disappointed as they’re not on the menu. (Perhaps the guys at Las Iguanas can think about addressing this?).

What they have done though is gather together all the gluten free dishes they have on the main menu to create a standalone gluten free menu. And this is a good idea actually. Because the main menu is huge and, let’s be honest, it’s a pain in the backside searching the menu for dishes with the little GF beside them. Read the rest of this entry »

Friend or Pho: Gluten free street food

If you’re out and about in the West End and you’re struggling to find something tasty, filling and gluten free to grab for lunch or dinner, you should head to Pho.

Pho (pronounced feu in Vietnam or foe by anyone outside Vietnam) is the Vietnamese national dish and is a simple, fresh nutritional noodle soup dish that’s eaten for lunch, breakfast and dinner. And as it’s made with clear vegetable stock and rice noodles it’s also a great choice for coeliacs as it’s gluten free.

Pho Chay - Pho Wardour Street

Pho Chay and Bun Cha Gio Ga

So last weekend we went to Pho the restaurant on Wardour Street, one of the four Pho restaurants in London, to try pho the dish.

And the first thing you notice about Pho is it’s pretty cool. As are the waiting staff. But they’re also friendly and super knowledgeable. Our waitress was very helpful and friendly and was happy to spend time going through the menu and pointing out the few dishes I couldn’t eat because they contained hoisin sauce or soya sauce (although Pho are happy to take these out). But most dishes on the menu are great for coeliacs and there were numerous vegetarian options too.

So what we did choose?

Well I started with Goi Cuon, fresh summer veggies and noodles wrapped in (gluten free) rice paper with a fish dipping sauce. And Andrew chose Cha Gio, fried pork spring rolls. Both these starters are fairly substantial and incredibly filling. So if you want to leave space for your main course you might want to share one of these.

At Pho everything is freshly made with ingredients that are delivered daily. So my Goi Cuon was packed full of fresh peppers and mint. And our server took the time to show Andrew how the lettuce could be wrapped round the pork spring rolls for extra crunch.

Homemade lemonade vodka - Pho Soho

Homemade lemonade vodka

For the main course I chose Pho Chay, which is tofu, mushrooms and rice noodles in a veggie stock, and Andrew chose Bun Cha Gio Ga which is lemongrass chicken with a stir-fry topping and rice noodles, and is served with veggie spring roll and peanuts. This dish had a lovely combination of textures with crunchy stir-fry and soft noodles and a beautiful combination of flavours including coriander, chili, nut, and lemon. My Pho Chay came with side dish of fresh herbs including flat leaf parsley and mint, and chili so I could give my dish a bit of an extra kick if I wanted to. I didn’t need to. It was tasty and filling but a bit on the salty side for my personal taste.

There’s one item on the menu that you absolutely must try and that’s the homemade lemonade vodka. Cold, minty and packing a punch. Highly recommended.

Pho Soho
Opening times: Monday to Saturday
 12 – 11pm, Sunday 
12pm – 10pm
Address: 63-165 Wardour Street,
 W1F 8WN,
Telephone: 020 7434 3938

Gluten Free in NYC

Freidman's pastrami sandwich and sweet potato fries

Freidman’s pastrami sandwich and sweet potato fries

Friends of GFB, Wendy and Paul, recently made their annual pilgrimage to the amazing city of New York and Wendy, being gluten intolerant, was kind enough to write some notes about the places she visited that were GF friendly.

Freidman’s Lunch

A great café inside the foodie Chelsea Market. Many items on the menu can be adapted to be gluten free. I had a yummy pastrami sandwich and sweet potato fries. The bread they use was much tastier than anything I’ve had in the UK.

They also do bagels for breakfast/brunch but only at the weekend. And they stock a bottled gluten free beer called Redbridge which was really good.

Very reasonably priced.

S’MAC (short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese)

S'MAC - New York's best Macaroni & Cheese

Great little place in the East Village serving only mac ‘n’ cheese – they position themselves as “New York’s best Macaroni & Cheese” on their website.

All dishes are ‘build your own’ where you choose your own cheese combinations and additional ingredients and can all be made with gluten free pasta. I had a ‘nosh’ size (the smallest size) though I wished I’d had the ‘major munch’ as it was so good! Only negative was that on their website they say they offer a vegan/non dairy cheese option but they didn’t have this on the day we visisted – (I shouldn’t really have dairy but did).

A filling and tasty cheap lunch.

Bar Breton

Bar Breton, 250 5th Ave, New York

Bar Breton
UPDATE: Apparently closed now unfortunately
A smart but cosy French restaurant open for lunch and dinner on 5th Avenue not far from the Empire State Building which specialises in traditional Brittany buckwheat galettes.

Absolutely delicious and they also have a dedicated gluten free fryer for their herb fries! We had a salmon galette with horseradish cream and also a Gruyère and Black Forest ham. Traditional Breton cider to drink served in a teacup!

Reasonably priced for the great quality.

Babycakes NYC

Babycakes NYC, 248 Broome Street, New York

Babycakes NYC

Oh my God! Heaven on earth! Cute bakery on the Lower East Side selling the most delicious breads, cookies and cupcakes and all made with healthy ingredients. They don’t use eggs or dairy instead using healthy coconut oil and only use agave nectar, never sugar.

Almost all of their cakes are gluten free with the exception of a few which are made using spelt – though the cabinets are all clearly labeled and the staff always ask about intolerances when serving.

I had carrot cupcake and pumpkin bread (as it was Halloween) – really amazing and deliciously moist with the subtle taste of coconut. We need one of these in London!

Babycakes NYC cupcakes

Babycakes NYC cupcakes

I also bought the Babycakes book (Babycakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-about Bakery) by founder Erin McKenna so will be testing out my baking skills over the coming weeks – I just need to source some of the ingredients online first which are not as easy to find in the UK – they have great online suppliers in the US.

Other places we ate were all very helpful by adapting dishes to exclude specific ingredients to ensure that they were gluten free.

It sounds like Wendy and Paul had a fantastic time in New York and we thank them for taking the time to send us their experiences.

Get yourselves over there to try out some of these places. It’s getting cheaper and cheaper for us in the UK to visit the States. And of course, let us know if you discover or know of any other great places in New York.

McDonald’s fries: gluten free or not gluten free?

A while back we wrote a blog post about the gluten free products you could enjoy at McDonald’s. One of the items we mentioned were the fries, which according to the McDonald’s website and forums were definitely gluten free.

However, a couple of our readers left messages in the comments section that they had become ill after eating McDonald’s fries and they had been led to believe that the fries were often cooked with gluten products.

I called McDonald’s UK to ask them if the fries were gluten free; are they ever cooked in the same vat as gluten products; and could there be any risk of cross contamination?

This is their reply:

Our French Fries and Hash Browns are gluten free, as are Fruit Bags, Carrot Sticks and the Garden Side Salad, our core McFlurry ice creams (i.e. not promotional) and our Chocolate and Strawberry Milkshakes, but not Vanilla.

I was sorry to read that one of your blog community members had concerns about cross-contamination of our French Fries. This should certainly not be the case as we make absolutely every possible effort to apply the highest quality measures throughout all procedures. We cook our French Fries in a dedicated vat and prepare them in a dedicated area. Whenever we cook a promotional side order containing gluten, such as Onion Rings, they are cooked in a separate vat some distance away from the Fry station. Gluten free promotional items are cooked in the same way as our French Fries and to the same standards.

Our menu is constantly being reviewed to create the most varied choices available for all customers. We also work closely with the Coeliac Society to provide them with updated information for their members’ booklet, but if your blog community have concerns about the available information please let me know and we can look at how we can better outreach on this issue.

Steve Heywood, Press Officer, McDonald’s UK

So it does seem McDonald’s are on the case when it comes to gluten free products and the care that needs to be taken when preparing them.

The concern, I guess, is that the odd individual restaurant is not adhering to these standards. Have you experienced this at all? Let us know in the comments.

For more information on allergens and the nutritional value of McDonald’s products visit the McDonald’s menu site.

New gluten free sandwich at Starbucks

If you’re a regular reader of this of this blog you’ll know we’re big fans of Genius gluten free bread.

Gluten free sandwich from Starbucks

Cheese and coleslaw gluten free sandwich from Starbucks

Starbucks have been using Genius bread for a while since they started selling the classic tuna mayo earlier this year. This week they launched a new sandwich: cheese and coleslaw made with mature cheddar and red Leicester cheese with crunchy cabbage, carrot and red onion coleslaw topped with mixed leaf salad. Perfect for summer.

“We take the health and wellbeing of our customers seriously and we’re committed to offering choice, including a great quality gluten free sandwich. We’ve received really positive feedback from our customers and this product has enabled us to provide more options for our coeliac customers but also for other customers too,” said Sarah Dunne, corporate communications manager at Starbucks UK and Ireland.

Free from artificial flavours and colours, Starbucks cheese and coleslaw sandwich using Genius brown bread is available from all UK Starbucks costs £2.95 for take away or £3.45 eat in.

Have you tried Starbucks’ cheese and coleslaw sandwich yet? What do you think?