Gluten Free London: Beyond Bread

Beyond Bread is a dedicated gluten free bakery with (currently) 2 branches in London. To date, I’ve only visited the Charlotte’s Place location.

On the first occasion I had a gluten free chocolate muffin to takeaway which was perfectly nice although a little dense inside. On the second occasion, I wanted to eat in and so had lunch at Charlotte’s Place.

Beyond Bread London gluten free quiche

This time I chose the quiche with a spinach and mushroom salad along with a cinnamon bun. Since it was a cold day, I took a tea as well.

Beyond Bread London gluten free quiche

The cost was £14.85 for the above.

The pastry on the quiche was firm and not at all crumbly. The cinnamon bun was good and I enjoyed this.

Beyond Bread London gluten free cinnamon bun

At the end of my lunch I asked whereabouts the toilets were. I was somewhat astonished to discover there is no toilet available to use at Charlotte’s Place.

Repeat: There is no customer toilet here. This is a cafe with – I guess – around 15 seats and there’s no bathroom for customers to use. Instead I was directed to use the facilities of other local businesses, something I declined to do.

Perhaps this seems like a negative thing to include in a blog post. Maybe it seems unnecessary to point out the lack of toilet facilities? But in all the blog posts I’ve read about this Beyond Bread location, I’ve never seen this highlighted before. Perhaps even this is a new thing? I don’t know. But I’m pointing this out as I wish I’d known in advance of visiting.

Locations: 2 Charlotte Place, London W1T 1SB and 267 Upper Street, London N1 2UQ
Website: www.beyondbread.co.uk
Cost: £ 14.85 for the meal above
Would I come back: Honestly? I think the food on offer here is good quality and I value the opportunity to eat at a dedicated gluten free bakery. However, I’m not sure I would go out of my way to visit again. I thought what I ordered was tasty but a little overpriced (I fully appreciate the cost of the Fitzrovia location is factored in to the prices here). However, the situation with no customer bathrooms will likely put me off from revisiting. I work in a different part of London so would ordinarily be looking to eat in at Beyond Bread when I’m in the West End, rather than takeaway. For me, it’s not a particularly appealing lunch knowing that I’ll need to find a public convenience to use after my lunch as the restaurant does not provide one.

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Beyond Bread London gluten free Restaurant

2017 Free From Food Awards

I was delighted to be included in the judging panel for yesterday’s session of the 2017 Free From Food Awards (FFFA).

The FFFAs – now in their 10th year – celebrate the UK’s best free from products from small, (sometimes just starting out in the home kitchen) start ups to large supermarkets. The Awards are run by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and her seemingly indefatigable team. All judging is performed blind. The judges are not told until after their comments have been recorded and scoring has been completed whose products have been tasted. All products are cooked or prepared exactly to the package’s instructions.

It’s been a pleasure to see the development of the free from food sector through the last 6 years in which I’ve been honoured to be included on the judging panel. Not just the growth in number of products now available in this sector, but the bringing to market of more innovative products and an increasing number of products catering to the wider allergy community, more than just gluten free. For me the judging, and especially the presentation of awards party, is a chance to catch up with friends within the free from community who I wouldn’t ordinarily get to see otherwise. It’s also a million miles from my ‘day job’ which is another reason why I thoroughly enjoy being involved!

As I also have a nut allergy, I have to be mindful of the categories I can judge in. For this reason, cake and biscuit containing categories are out for me as so many contain nuts, and particularly almonds which is one of the nuts I’m allergic to.

This year I judged in the Innovation and Veggie Ready Meals category.

The shortlist for the FFFA 2017 will be published on 8th February and the presentation of awards will be made on Tuesday 28 March 2017.

Until the shortlist is published, I can give you a sneak peek of the judging process and my top picks from the judging yesterday:

In the Innovation category, I enjoyed the following:

Oomi noodles.

High protein & 75% less carbs than regular chilled egg noodles, these are not marketed as gluten free fish noodles but that’s what they are. Made from a combination of Alaskan pollock, Pacific whiting and/or hoki, I really liked the firm texture of these noodles. We tried them plain and I could taste the fish but they looked just like regular noodles. They can be stir fried in 1 minute and with sauce this might be a good way to get some fish into kids. You can even eat these directly from the packet.

Oomi gluten free noodle

If you were presented with this, what would you think it is? I asked on Instagram and the suggestions ranged from a brownie containing beetroot, dates or figs or even insects to something made with flour from dinosaurs (well it is the Innovation award!).

gluten free high protein bar

Perhaps you’ll be as surprised as me to discover this is in fact a Piri Piri chicken bar made by Fori. This product is made with 60% free range chicken.

It had an interesting flavour; I’ll be honest and say I loved it and was challenged by it in equal measure. But if you’re into high protein, gluten free and nut free snacks, this product could be for you! I think this product would be good as a back up while travelling in case your special meal is not loaded on to your flight. Similarly, if you were out on a long hike, this product could provide a filling but light item to carry snack on.

As the tasting is done blind at the FFFA, we do not see the packaging at the time of product tasting. This protein bar is sold in this packaging and I think you’d eat it directly from the packet, meaning you’re unlikely to ponder whether this is a cholcolate

Piri Piri chicken high protein bar

Also in the Innovation category were these gluten free sweet potato wraps by bFree. On my recent trip to Australia, bFree wraps were easy to find everywhere, including these sweet potato wraps. I liked that they were very pliable and I imagine they would stand up well to being in a lunchbox. We tried them both as a wrap with hummus filling and also separately to taste the flavour alone. A product I will definitely be buying.

bFree sweet potato wraps

As well as the Innovation category, I also participated in the judging for the vegetarian ready meals.

My top pick in this category were these gluten free Devonshire soysages made by Dragonfly Foods. I would buy these over meat sausages and really enjoyed the rosemary flavour in them as well as the way the outside had crisped up. The texture and taste didn’t make them too dissimilar in my view to meat sausages. I suspect that they would BBQ quite well, unlike some of the gluten free vegetarian sausages on the market today.

gluten free soysages

I think that vegetarian ready meals is an area in which food manufacturers could make improvements in. There is definitely room in this area to increase the number and range of products on offer to vegetarians with dietary restrictions looking for convenience products.

Many thanks to Michelle for inviting me to participate in the judging again this year and to the whole team behind the scenes for their skills in preparing all the products to try.

You can follow news from the Free From Food Awards here. The shortlist will be published on Wednesday 8th February 2017.

Have you tried any of these products? Would you consider buying them?

Gluten Free London Restaurant: Pure

The trickiest issue I’ve found with being gluten free is finding a suitable breakfast. I have never been keen on eating breakfast at home before enduring the daily bun fight into work on the Tube so have always preferred breakfast al desko.

Once I was further diagnosed with a nut allergy it became even harder as most gluten free breakfast options also included nuts.

However, one of the best developments for me has been the increasing number of food outlets offering gluten free breakfast items which don’t contain nuts.

There’s a Pod next to my office which offers gluten free porridge (with your choice of toppings) as standard. However, I’ve recently fallen out of love with them because it takes them soooo long to prepare the porridge. On occasion, I’ve actually drunk my entire coffee while I’ve been waiting for my breakfast order in Pod (still love their lunches though!).

gluten free london breakfast options #pureishot

So, I was extremely happy to discover a new cafe style restaurant called Pure right by the exit of my Tube station. They have multiple locations throughout the City, West End and Canary Wharf.

All their standard porridge is gluten free. You can also choose your own porridge toppings.

gluten free London breakfast

Not keen on porridge? Pure also do egg pots which I haven’t tried yet but which seem very popular given how many other customers order them.

When the weather was warmer I bought a bircher pot made with gluten free oats and rhubarb. This is currently not on sale; their menu changes seasonally. They were also doing a blueberry version which was delicious.

Gluten free bircher London

The only downside for me (with an allergy to almonds) is that there are two porridges on offer at Pure; one with organic milk and the other with almond milk. And I have had a couple of minor freak outs when I’ve seen the almond milk porridge (which I have not requested) get rung through on the till. However, the good thing (and what sets them apart from Pod) is that Pure have both porridges pre measured out in the tubs (under heat) ready for customers. This means that not only is it quick (toppings are added later as requested) but I can also see whether the team are selecting either the organic or almond milk porridges.

It’s not just breakfasts which are on offer at Pure, they also have lots of gluten free lunch time options too. You can check out the menu here.

The coffee is also really good here. And a special thumbs up to the baristas who are super friendly.

gluten free london

If you spot a Pure around London, especially at breakfast time, I highly recommend you pay them a visit.

Cost: £5.50 Gluten free porridge (they only offer one size but it’s large) with golden syrup and blueberries with a latte

Location: Currently around 10 locations in the City, West End and Canary Wharf. Check here to find one near you.

Website: Pure – Made For You

Would I go back? I do, daily! But I do need to try out some of their lunch options.

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Gluten Free London: Pure Made for you

Gluten Free London Restaurant: Rosa’s Thai

It’s a freezing cold November day and it’s time for lunch. You’re suffering with a rotten cold. Luckily there are many options nearby which offer gluten free food, what do you choose? For me, there’s just one thing I need on a day like this….and that’s spicy food.

So when I was choosing a restaurant for work day lunch with a friend I remembered seeing an Instagram post that Rosa’s Thai offered a gluten free menu. I’ve heard lots of good things about Rosa’s but I’ve never been. A brisk 5 minute walk away from the office and we were tucked into Rosa’s warm cafe.

Having originally begun as a stall in east London’s Brick Lane in 2008, Rosa’s Thai has expanded into a chain with 8 locations in and around central London.

The gluten free menu contains plenty of options with Thai classics.

gluten free Thai food London

I have a nut allergy so this naturally means there are less choices for me in Thai food, although still plenty of choice. (I’m allergic to almonds, hazelnuts and chestnuts which are not nuts usually found in Thai food but I generally avoid all nuts).

gluten free calamari

I find it impossible to resist calamari if I find a gluten free version. What a treat! These were served with a sweet chilli dip. The gluten free batter was deliciously light.

On the menu was exactly what I needed; guay tiew tom yum. A spicy and sour soup with rice noodles along with prawns, tomatoes and mushroom.

gluten free thai food london

As our dishes approached the table the smell was just incredible. Spicy and fish sauce. Steaming hot.

I couldn’t have been more excited to tuck in. Absolutely delicious. And spicy. Totally hit the spot.

Warming, delicious and reasonably priced food. What more could you possibly want on a cold day?

Cost: £31.15 for two (incl service) including two mains, a starter and prawn crackers. Very reasonable indeed.
Location: 8 locations in central London
Website: Rosa’s Thai
Would I go back?: Rosa’s is now my new favourite lunch time restaurant and since this visit I returned with my colleagues. I couldn’t have enjoyed the food and service any more than I did. Go and try!

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gluten free restaurant London Rosa's Thai