Gluten free Cornwall

Cupcakes Café, Port Isaac, Cornwall

The last time I visited Port Isaac was about 4 years ago when I still ate gluten. We’d walked the South West Coastal Path from Tintagel, a walk the man in the Tintagel Tourist Information Office had told us would take at least 7 hours to cover. Being fairly competitive and keen walkers, neither of us had believed it could possibly take 7 hours to cover 9 miles – albeit most of which turned out to be going up and down hill rather than noticeably forwards. In the end the walk took us half that time but we were ravenous from a fairly challenging walk and the sea air by the time we marched into the picturesque Cornish coastal fishing village of Port Isaac. We each greedily devoured an enormous Cornish pasty.

This time, things were different. After a slight incident involving a hungry person (me) watching someone eating an enormous Cornish pasty (guess who) on Port Isaac’s pebbly beach while the tide was out, we sought out something gluten free to eat. To be honest, my hopes weren’t high. But ever the optimist, I’d asked in the Cornish pasty shop if they knew somewhere offering gluten free food. No, they’d said, there’s nothing like that in January. The jolly lady behind the counter (un)helpfully suggested I had one of their pasties and just ate the filling and discarded the pastry. Ummm….thanks, but no thanks!

So I was ecstatic as we walked up a narrow street by the Port Isaac lifeboat station to find the Cupcakes Café.

I love it when restaurants and have exactly what I fancy eating rather than just anything gluten free on the menu because there is only one ‘choice’. A bowl of leek, potato and celery soup was delicious and warming.

The waitress said they usually have gluten free bread but they didn’t on that day. Maybe it was a January thing. They did offer me a gluten free scone but…..

Slightly overawed with the opportunity I felt it would be wrong to turn down a gluten free cream tea. I’m not a fan of cream but the Cornish clotted cream knocked my socks off, it was SO good. Good job I live a long way from Cornwall and can’t buy any of that! I was also pleased that they had my favourite Tea Pigs tea available.

I later found out that the Cupcakes Café is run by one of the Port Isaac RNLI lifeboatmen and former Fisherman’s Friend.

Location: Cupcakes Café, Middle Street, Port Isaac PL29 3RH

Opening hours: Breakfast, lunch and afternoon cakes

Would I go back?: Absolutely. Next time I need a gluten free scone and Cornish clotted cream fix, I’m heading straight for this super friendly café.

Port Isaac Fact: Although I’ve never watched it, Port Isaac is the setting for the ITV series Doc Martin.

Gluten Free Fish & Chips at Rick Stein’s, Padstow

There are few things which say seaside holiday more to me that tucking into fish and chips while sitting beside the sea, irrespective of the best the British weather can throw at you. Sadly, these days the opportunities for gluten free fish and chips are limited.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that the king of fish, Rick Stein, offers gluten free fish and chips from his establishments in Padstow.

The strange thing is that they don’t advertise gluten free fish and chips either on their website or within the shop. I have no idea why this is.

As well as standard fish and chip shop fare, the menu offers a vegetarian option and also a healthier grilled fish.

In advance of our trip to Cornwall I contacted Rick Stein’s to ascertain whether they were truly gluten free – gluten free batter in a separate, dedicated fryer. They replied immediately to confirm this is the case.

Once I’d ordered the highly efficient staff in the kitchen (even those I hadn’t placed my order with) all seemed aware of my gluten free order. Good levels of communication in the kitchen always impress me and offer me comfort that the team are taking special care with my order.

So how did the gluten free fish and chips taste? I thought the batter was deliciously light, like a tempura style batter. The fish was wonderfully fresh. And the chips! Only chip shop chips can taste as great as these. I thought the portion size was extremely generous, great sized piece of fish and heaps of chips.

We enjoyed our fish and chips while sitting on the highly salubrious location of a large wheel of a digger (not in use!) while overlooking the Camel estuary on what turned out to be the only sunny day of our holiday. Lunch at the seaside doesn’t get much better than this.


Cost: £7.85 for cod & chips (takeaway is cheaper than the restaurant menu pictured above)

Location: Stein’s Fish & Chips, South Quay, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8BL

Opening times for Stein’s Fish & Chips, restaurant and takeaway: (Check website here for up to date info)

Monday to Sunday
12 noon – 3pm

Thursday to Saturday
5pm – 8pm
(closed Sunday to Wednesday for dinner)

Would I come back? Yes. A trip to the seaside is only complete with (gluten free) fish & chips eaten out of the box!

The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall: Where Gluten Free Meets The Sea

Having spent a blissfully peaceful few days at an amazing lighthouse clinging to the side of a cliff in deepest Cornwall, we decided to head to the Scarlett hotel for Mr D’s big birthday. In truth, it was a shocker of a day weather-wise, wet, dark and miserable. Yet somehow as we walked into the Scarlet hotel and we were greeted with the sight of an infinity edge pool (albeit not for swimming) slipping seamlessly into the sea beyond, my heart lifted.

The Scarlet is a 37 bedroom eco hotel located in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. It’s quite close to Newquay, but not so close you actually need to go anywhere near Newquay but there are still plenty of great waves if surfing is your thing.  Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant is in neighbouring Watergate Bay.

The building is quite unique and certainly about as far removed as is possible from a British seaside hotel. I loved the unconventional layout and all the modern art works scattered around the hotel. We stayed in an ‘Indulgent’ room and felt a sense of liberation in the very different layout of our room. The freestanding egg shaped bath, toilet and shower were all located in three separate parts of the room instead of locked into a bathroom together.

In truth our Indulgent room located at sea thrift level had a compromised view of the sea. Having booked the room online, the hotel then called me and explained the position of the room and offered an us alternative if I wished to switch rooms. I was most impressed with this customer focused approach. Better for us to know in advance than arrive and be disappointed. In the end we decided to stay with the room we had booked.

I’d ordered a birthday cake for Mr D and this year decided that I’d try and organise a gluten free cake. Well, if you don’t ask you don’t get, right? I’d been very clear about the cake’s contents when ordering and it genuinely seemed as though it wasn’t going to be a problem for the hotel to organise. It tasted seriously good….

We arrived as lunch was still being served so ventured into the dining room. Initially I had just wanted a salad but was coerced into trying the very reasonable lunch menu at £16 for 2 courses. As always, I explained my dietary restriction and the waiting staff were very knowledgeable about the food and were able to tell me what I could eat from the menu (this was consistent throughout my stay). I was impressed they seemed quite clued up on intolerances. For example when I told them I couldn’t eat gluten, I was asked if dairy was also a problem for me. Very smart.

This amazing plate of gluten free bread was placed in front of me…..There were THREE types; white, poppy seed and sun dried tomato. How great is that? I was lucky enough to enjoy this gluten free bread later at dinner and also at breakfast the following morning.

The gluten free bread tasted absolutely amazing. I was told guests often ask the chef for the recipe – it really does take taste that good. Not at all sweet and with a proper crispy, crunchy crust.

While I sat enjoying my delicious lunch of duck with pickled vegetables followed by pollock with aubergine and roasted artichoke over a glass of Cornish sparkling wine I couldn’t help thinking something seemed to be missing…..Noise….From little people. I looked around and realised that despite this being half term week there were no kids. Yep, the Scarlet is a hotel for grown ups. Hurrah. Tranquility.

As we sat enjoying lunch and watching the waves on the beach below, the sun burnt through the clouds. This photo was taken approximately 1 hour after the photo at the start of this blog:

In the afternoon we booked a session in the ruby red tea cups (just visible in the photo above) for a detoxifying seaweed bath. When we booked the spa treatment it was dark and raining so we felt like pioneers planning on venturing outside in the cold, wet February afternoon. But Mr D had lady luck smiling on him as we padded outside in our dressing gowns because the sun was out we felt like lottery winners as we ordered another glass of the really rather good Cornish sparkling wine to sip in the spa bath and watch the waves on the beach below.

We both really enjoyed dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. I had salmon mi-cuit adjusted to be gluten free and for main course I chose ray wings with purple sprouting broccoli served with a gloriously rich Bourgogne sauce. Dessert for me was probably the most perfect dessert I’ve never thought of eating, honeycomb parfait with stewed rhubarb. Simply delicious.

The Scarlet’s website lists the many activities on offer from surfing, to kayaking to tree climbing. Most days there is a complimentary yoga class and I really wish I’d brought my kit. This is the perfect, calm place to practice.

There are lots of reasons to come to the Scarlet hotel but if you need to eat gluten free, you will be well looked after here.

In Search of the Holy Grail….A Gluten Free Pasty in Cornwall


This weekend Mr D and I headed to fantastic Cornwall to celebrate his special birthday.

In the weeks before our trip I spent a lot of time searching the internet for gluten free Cornish pasties. I even sent out a couple of requests on Twitter but to no avail. Eventually I happened upon the website for The Mad Hatters tea shop in Launceston.

cornish pasty 1

Can you see what the sign says…?

cornish pasty 2

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. This photo was taken just after a group left and in the only 2 minutes the tables were empty!


After a long drive from London (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.