New York

gluten free New York

Gluten Free New York: Friedman’s Lunch

Friedman’s Lunch is located within Chelsea Markets in New York’s Meatpacking District.

We arranged to meet our friends and their small baby at Friedman’s Lunch since they offer lots of lighter gluten free options such as sandwiches and salads and are conveniently located to the High Line which we walked afterwards (highly recommended). Despite the name, Friedman’s Lunch offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Chelsea Market reminds me of a slightly sanitised version on Brixton Village; small, independent restaurants offering good value food in a converted former warehouse. Next door to Friedman’s is a health food store with many naturally gluten free options (fruit, veg, cheese etc) but strangely we didn’t find any specifically gluten free items there.

Friedman’s operate a no reservations policy and we had to wait around 40 minutes for a table, although not entirely the restaurant’s fault. A table had become available before our friends arrived and their policy is to only seat complete parties so we had to wait around 20 minutes for the second table.

Since I was in New York I chose the grilled pastrami Reuben sandwich. This sandwich came served with sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese and Russian dressing, and a very generous portion of pastrami, all on toasted gluten free bread.

I was impressed that almost all items on the menu could be gluten free. The waiter explained they also have a separate fryer so if I wanted to have the herbed fries, these would be safely gluten free. Who am I to refuse chips on a cold day?!

Unsurprisingly I loved the tangy Russian dressing. Since N and I met when we sat next to each other at work in Moscow, it seemed quite an appropriate choice.

We enjoyed many great meals while we were in New York but I think the food here might’ve been my favourite. I liked the relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and the excellent quality and range of gluten free food on offer.


Friedman’s Lunch

Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Ave
New York, NY 10011

Opening hours:

Mon: 8am – 9pm
Tue – Fri: 8am – 9pm
Sat: 10am – 9pm
Sun: 10am – 7pm

Would I go back? Yes, top of the list on my next trip to New York

Gluten Free Meals on British Airways / American Airlines

Following on from my post on flying with multiple dietary restrictions, here’s what I ate on a recent flight to New York (on a British Airways flight) and what I was provided on the flight back (on an American Airlines code share flight with BA). I’ve indicated whether these gluten free (GFML) meals would also be suitable for dairy, vegetarian and nut free diets:

Outward day flight with British Airways
Meal #1 – Hot lunch: Green bean salad, chicken paella, fruit salad and round brick of gluten free bread

Dairy free: Yes
Vegetarian: Only the green bean salad and fruit salad
Nut free: Yes, but the chicken paella actually had a “may contain nuts” warning. I appear to be OK with “may contain” nuts warnings but I was glad to see this allergy labelling on the meal.

Meal #2 – Sandwich: Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich with grapes and raisins

Dairy free: Only grapes and raisins
Vegetarian: Only grapes and raisins
Nut free: Yes
Notes: This sandwich had quite a generous filling and it was just like a homemade packed lunch sandwich in the way it was somehat haphazardly assembled. Perhaps this is a good thing, it certainly wasn’t your average supermarket bought sarnie. Also, thought this was a bit grape heavy! Personally I prefer my grapes in a glass of vino…

Return day flight with American Airlines (code share with BA)
Meal #1 – Breakfast: Omelette containing mushrooms and unidentified cheese with the consistency of milk (not nice) served with cubes of potatoes, carrots and tomatoes with yoghurt, fruit salad and lemon shortbread

Dairy free: Only fruit salad and shortbread were dairy free
Vegetarian: Potentially, but unidentified cheese/milk may not have been
Nut free: Yes
Notes – Shortbread contained following warning.

Meal #2 – Evening Meal: Grilled chicken with rice (contained fresh coriander), grilled courgette and pickled onion, slice of lime. Dessert of fresh melon slices.

Dairy free: Yes
Vegetarian: No, only melon
Nut free: Yes
Notes – This was a bit dry but it was actually pleasantly fresh tasting. Mr D was served a lot of processed, brown coloured food for his meal, including a muffin which contained what we think was cheese. We concluded if you can’t decide what type of cheese it is (even a vague idea), it should always be avoided! On this occasion, it was far better to have the gluten free meal.

In conclusion based on these flights, those with Coeliac/gluten intolerance and a nut allergy are much better catered for than Coeliacs with a dairy intolerance and/or vegetarian. If you are travelling with more than one intolerance / allergy then I highly recommend you take food with you on the flight (subject to customs rules) and choose your airline very carefully.

Flying With Multiple Dietary Restrictions

If you think flying with a gluten intolerance is difficult, try flying with a gluten intolerance and another dietary restriction – in my case, nuts!

I’m not sure exactly how many times I’ve started writing a post about flying with food intolerances/allergies, but I do know that it’s a lot. It started at the very beginning of the year when I flew back from a New Year break in Sweden and was served a pack of clearly labelled wheat crackers along with my gluten free meal.

Wheat crackers in gluten free meal

In the months which followed my life got a little more complicated when I was diagnosed with allergies to almonds, hazelnuts and chestnuts. Prior to this, my worry had always been would the airline load my pre-ordered gluten free meal? Now my concern is will the airline load a gluten free meal and will it be nut free? On a flight back from Rome in September I was served cashew nuts in with my main meal (both this and the Stockholm flight were in business class on BA where a meal is served on short haul flights). I’m not allergic to cashew nuts but I experienced a mild allergic reaction on the flight – not great at 36,000 feet – and so after this I’ve become more concerned about in flight catering.

In advance of our recent flight to New York I contacted BA to find out what could be done to arrange a gluten free and nut free meal. In short, the answer was nothing; they won’t assist and this is the case whichever class you’re flying in. If you have a special meal request, you can only have one of them as your in-flight meal. This means if you are a Coeliac who cannot tolerate dairy (as many are), you are not catered for. If you’re a Coeliac who’s either vegetarian or nut allergic (or indeed all three!), you’re also not catered for.

The BA website states:

“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide tailored meals on request — this includes any requirements not explicitly covered by our special meals, as well as combinations of special requirements.

We advise all passengers with dietary requirements that we cannot meet to provide their own food, bearing in mind that all food transported through security or immigration will be subject to local rules.”

In the course of this research I learnt that British Airways do not offer a nut free meal. While other food allergens (seafood, gluten) religious (Halal, Kosher) and “lifestyle” (vegetarian, vegan) special meals are offered by BA, nut free meals are not. I’m shocked that airlines are willing to fly with the risk of customers having an anaphylactic reaction to either nuts being served on their airplanes as snacks or in their meals. The BA website states the following policy on nuts:

Our in-flight meals do not contain peanuts or peanut products. However, we cannot guarantee meals and snacks are completely peanut free as they may be produced at a facility that handles peanuts. We are therefore unable to offer a peanut-free special meal. Peanuts may be used in snacks in our British Airways airport lounges.

Tree Nuts
Tree nuts, such as walnuts and cashews, may be offered as part of our in-flight menu.

While we restrict the use of some products in our catering and supply a range of special meals, other passengers may bring their own snacks and food containing those products on board. Our crew are unable to make announcements or alert other passengers to individual medical conditions.”

I understand the airlines can’t stop people bringing nuts onto planes and the practicality of policing a no nut policy with the multitude of languages spoken on any given flight would be impossible to manage with 100% success but I do not understand why BA serve meals containing some nuts or providing nuts as snacks with drinks. I’m regularly offered a pack of almonds with a drink on BA.

When I contacted BA to discuss nut free meals they advised that they offer special meals in accordance with the common set of special meals agreed with the airlines and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). There is a peanut free meal in the IATA list of special meals but peanuts are not the only nuts people are allergic to! I’ve contacted IATA to find out why a nut free meal is not in their list of special meals. I’ll update this post when I hear back from them.

Taking enough food on-board for a short haul flight in Europe is possible and even on a 6 – 7 hour flight to New York wouldn’t have been a big deal. However for our next trip to see Mr D’s family in Australia, in flight catering options will be a bigger deciding factor for me on who to fly with, more than cost of the flight since transporting 24+ hours worth of food would be difficult. In some countries (including Australia and New Zealand) there are strict rules about the import of food items, even for personal consumption. If you are travelling to Australia/New Zealand, the good thing is that gluten free provisions are readily available for you to stock up on for the return flight therefore you do not need to take enough food for the return flight in your luggage from the UK. However, this is not the case for all destinations and for this reason, it’s important to fly on long haul flights with carriers who can offer meals to suit your dietary needs. This is the subject of a future blog post but my initial research indicates that some airlines can be more accommodating for multiple dietary restrictions than BA.

Check back tomorrow to see what I ate on our flights to New York and if it would be suitable for Coeliacs who also need to exclude nuts and /or dairy as well as gluten free vegetarians.