Gluten Free Afternoon Tea, London: Mad Hatter’s at The Sanderson

Going for gluten free afternoon tea when you’re supposed to be on a sugar free, mostly carb free diet is not exactly ideal timing. However, there was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to see Kelly and Miriam (was really sorry not to see Carly on the day too). The venue was the hip Sanderson Hotel tucked behind Goodge Street/Oxford Street for their very fun Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.

In advance of the afternoon tea at The Sanderson Hotel, London I’d contacted the hotel to check it would also be nut free. Unfortunately I had to exchange a number of emails with them before I received a reply which reassured me that I would be catered for safely. In fact nuts are not used in any of their afternoon tea dishes (gluten free or not) but it took a number of emails to establish this as I kept receiving stock response emails without actually answering my questions.

somewhere over the rainbow

Our table was sat out in the light and airy courtyard garden. We checked again with the waitress that we would be served gluten free afternoon tea but were slightly alarmed when the waitress questioned if we could eat fish or ham in response to our questions on being served gluten free options. Not comforted we would be safely eating there, we asked to speak to the manager who did firmly reassure us that everything served to us would be both gluten and nut free.

The major attraction of this gluten free afternoon tea was the styling on the Mad Hatter’s theme. It was just so special. Delicately beautiful cakes. The tiny carrots poking out of green shoots, the little pink mushrooms. The clock faces on the cakes. I loved how the sugar cubes were served from a wind up musical box which played “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. I also particularly enjoyed the sandwiches and the bread was soft and the fillings flavoursome.

The only downside for me was the scones. We were chatting too much for me to realise I’d mistakenly put clotted cream on the savoury scones. It was only a slightly strange after taste that made me question what I was eating. Despite my fundamental error I didn’t enjoy them. They crumbled like I have never seen a gluten free scone crumble before. The sweet scones were the same on the crumble front. Definitely could do better.

crumbly scones

Gluten free afternoon tea is expensive. It’s also a slightly superfluous meal. You can’t really eat beforehand because you need to save your appetite and you’re inevitably too stuffed / overloaded in sugar to eat afterwards. So it needs to be good. The Sanderson’s gluten free afternoon tea certainly delivered (except for the scones).

While the end result was good, I do think the Sanderson hotel needs to invest some time in training their teams (both waitresses and those responding to phone/email queries) on food intolerances and allergies. Our booking contained information on the need to serve us gluten and nut free food. I would expect the wait staff to have been fully briefed in advance of our visit so they knew our dietary requirements without us needing to double check but this was not the case.

Cost: From £38 excluding service (automatically added)
Would I return?: Definitely. This was a really fun treat with good quality cakes and delicious sandwiches
Location: The Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG

Gluten Free Lunch: Soupe du Jour

Sometimes all you want is a bowl of soup. On a bitingly cold day, with a heavy cold and a sore throat, there was honestly nothing more I wanted to eat than a warm bowl of proper soup.

Earlier in the week I’d had a tip about Soupe du Jour in Soho from Carly in a quest to find new places near Oxford Street. As luck would have it, Soupe du Jour have opened a second branch near my office in the City.

The City branch is located at 38 Houndsditch. One of those fabulous street names which you can find in the City of London, along with Frying Pan Alley and Savage Gardens. Houndsditch is a one way street between Liverpool Street and Aldgate. A handy location for City workers looking for a healthy and gluten free lunch. There’s a Planet Organic a few minutes’ walk away if you’re looking to stock up on supplies.

The City branch of Soupe du Jour is not large; there are a couple of tables and seats on the ground floor with a few more tables upstairs if you’re eating in.

The menu has a variety of ‘Classic’ soups which are on the menu every day. In addition, they run a number of specials. On my first visit I chose the Christmas Sweetcorn soup which was flavoured with cinnamon. I wasn’t entirely sure about sweetcorn and cinnamon together but was offered a small cup to try. It was, honestly, utterly delicious as well as nourishing and filling. I couldn’t really taste the cinnamon (a good thing as far as I was concerned!) but it added a warmth to the soup.

Christmas Sweetcorn

Christmas Sweetcorn

The second time I visited I chose the very meaty and extremely tasty Chilli soup. That day I chose the large size portion and it was extremely filling.

Beef Chilli

Beef Chilli

On my visits, all Soupe du Jour’s soups were gluten free. Some were also dairy free. As the specials change frequently you can check their Facebook page or twitter feed to see what’s on that day.

All soups come with a slice of bread included and this includes gluten free bread at no extra charge. If I were being picky, the gluten free bread wasn’t my favourite; it was white, slightly cakey but perfectly fine for gluten free white bread. It’s just that I normally eat brown or seeded bread however the fact they offer gluten free bread is itself great. The gluten free bread was on a separate board, covered and had its own dedicated knife. When I asked about the knife they used to cut the gluten free bread I was told it was the only bread knife like that in the shop so the knives shouldn’t be mixed up.

Alongside the soup and bread you can choose to pimp up your soup with extra toppings. Not all are gluten free but the menu explains what the options are.

I chose a small soup at £3.50. The regular size was priced at £4.50 upwards and the large bowls were big enough for a very filling lunch.

Location: 38 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7DB (City) and 34 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LH (Soho)

Would I go back? Absolutely. Have my loyalty card (buy 9 soups, get the 10th free) and I will be quickly adding stamps

Cost: £3.50 for the smaller soup and £4.50 – £6.50 for the larger size soup. Price includes slice of gluten free bread


My 2015 Travel Wish List

A new year and my thoughts are on where to travel to in 2015.

Although this blog was originally started to document my gluten free travel finds, travelling with baby twins is not easy – g00d job I love a challenge! The twins are now 17 months old and becoming increasingly able to travel and cope with changes to routine (overseas trips to date: Italy and Belgium). I can’t wait to explore the world with them.

So where’s on my 2015 travel wish list?

The Solo Trip – Cork, Ireland

Later this month I’m off to visit a friend who’s on a residential cookery course for a few months – without Mr D or the mini Ds. It may be Ireland, and it may be January but I can’t wait to catch up over a few glasses of wine and actually read a magazine cover to cover. How novel! My gluten free meal is already booked on the Aer Lingus flight. (Image credit)

cobh harbour

The City Break – Barcelona

The great thing about having visited so many European cities is that we know where would be good to go back to with the twins. Spain caters well for Coeliacs and would make an ideal weekend break with toddlers thanks to the short flight, lots of self catering apartments and ease of walking around the city – so no need to get a double buggy on public transport. I will be using this helpful guide from the Catalunya Celiac Association and this great blog post to help choose restaurants. (Image credit)

Parc Guell

The Week on The Beach – Martinhal, Portugal

Kids club? Check. Gluten free food in the restaurants and on site shop? Check. Provide baby kit and toddler friendly? Oh yes. But of all the trips on my wish list, I suspect this is the one least likely to happen. Although we had 10 days in Hawaii on a beach as part of a round the world trip (well, it was Hawaii!) Mr D and I have never been on a beach resort holiday. More’s the pity. (Image credit)

The Big Adventure – Road tripping Pacific Northwest, USA

I’ve enjoyed a few different road trips around the US but have not yet visited PNW. I’d love to explore the ruggedly beautiful national parks as well as Vancouver, Seattle and Portland safe in the knowledge there are heaps of gluten free options in these cities. I’ll be taking inspiration from these blogs Seattle, Portland, Vancouver on where to eat gluten free. (Image credit)

The Trip Down Under – Australia

This is the trip that would have happened while I was on maternity leave but various disasters meant we had to stay in London. We have relatives in Queensland so a trip to Brisbane and Noosa is on the cards when we can summon up the energy to deal with toddler twins on a 24 hour flight. In Noosa I’ll be booking back into the Netanya, one of my favourite places to stay in Australia. What’s not to love about basing yourself in a penthouse with a BBQ on your own roof terrace overlooking the beach?! (Image credit)

Where would you recommend I travel to with toddler twins? Any suggestions gratefully received!

For more inspiration on where to travel in 2015, visit this travel link up post.

Gluten Free Rome: Guest Post

Our first family holiday with the twins was to Italy (of course!) and involved an overnight stay in Rome but sadly we didn’t have time to explore the latest gluten free restaurants in Rome on that trip. So I was thrilled when Meredith offered to write a guest post on her visit to Rome.

Many thanks to Meredith for this…and making me wish I could hop on a plane to eat at Barbara’s, pronto!


Gluten  free adventures in Rome.

I won’t lie, as someone who had never been to Rome before, I was incredibly excited to go but as a coeliac, the land of pizza and pasta had me somewhat concerned. How wrong I was.

In Italy, coeliac testing is normal and mandatory. Coeliacs are also given a financial stipend to cover the increased costs of shopping for food and eating out, something I wish the British government would consider! As a result, gluten free food is frequently available even in small supermarkets, and a number of restaurants offer gluten free pizza and pasta, some even with separate kitchens for the gluten free food to be kept contamination free. Below are details of my four dining-out experiences.

Pantharei2 minutes walk from the Pantheon

Food: 4/5

I could have a potato pizza. Yep you heard right, potato and cheese on a pizza, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. There was lots of choice and the food I had was delicious.

Price: 2/5

Marked down as a result of a €2 surcharge for gluten free pizza bases, but even with that, three main courses and a carafe of wine was just €35.

Atmosphere: 3/5

A rustic, homely place with wooden benches, which other than the far-too-common TV was very pleasant for lunch.

Mama Eat In the Travstevere district

Food: 4.5/5

There is a separate gluten free menu which gives confidence, and I had a lovely pizza. The non-coeliac contingent of my party also said it was their favourite pizza of the entire trip. Bonus points for having three types of cake available, all of which were gluten free, and just to be thorough for you I can with confidence say that the two I tasted were delicious!

Price: 4/5

Very reasonable, three main courses, water, a carafe of wine and two slices of cake came to €47.5.

Atmosphere: 2/5

The tables were tightly packed, and as with many of the restaurants a TV was distracting, as a caveat Mama Eat has a lovely outside area which the torrential rain prevented us from enjoying.

Voglia di Pizza – Near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon

Food: 5/5

The high mark is a result of not only delicious food, and a separate menu for gluten free food, but because I could have anything I wanted. Beer, starters, bruschetta, deep fried vegetables, they would make anything I wanted specially.

Price: 3/5

Three two-course meals with water and wine came to €57.

Atmosphere: 2/5

As with Mama Eat it felt a little more like a diner, and also had a TV, which as you may have noticed is not my favourite thing for a restaurant!

“Eat With” Barbara – In the Travstevere district

Eat With is a website, a little like couch surfer, which allows you to dine at a local resident’s house with others from all over the world. Barbara is one such host in Rome, where we spent a really wonderful evening, joined by an Israeli couple and an American couple on their honeymoon.

Food: 5/5

Incredible artichokes, risotto, polenta, the list of delicacies goes on and on.

Price: 5/5

The cost is £35 per person, this however includes countless courses of food, and as much alcohol as you want to drink, Prosecco, red wine, white wine and aperitifs were served though-out the evening. Ultimately, all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink in incredibly pleasant surroundings, I can’t recommend more highly.

Atmosphere: 5/5

I want to move in to her apartment, now.


Have you visited Rome, Italy recently? Is there anywhere you’d recommend to eat out with great gluten free options? For more posts on Rome click here and for many more posts on Italy please click here.