London

Gluten free guide to London

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

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

Gluten (and Nut) Free Afternoon Tea at Claridges Hotel, London

As the venue for my first ever gluten free afternoon tea, Claridges Hotel in London has a special place in my memory. A gluten free afternoon tea hosted by Genius bread at Claridges Hotel in London was the first event I was invited to as a result of writing this blog. I love with the Art Deco style of the hotel (who wouldn’t) and it’s stunning Dale Chihuly chandelier in The Foyer. The chap I was seated next to at the event was fascinating (an investor to the Genius business) and the gluten free cakes and sandwiches were astounding. Any thoughts that gluten free food would be bland or unglamorous were banished that day.

So when it came to choosing an afternoon tea for a special birthday treat for my Mum, reserving a table at Claridges was top of my wish list.

At Claridges it’s possible to book a table for afternoon tea up to 5.30pm. We booked for 5pm. The perfect time as we were heading on to the theatre that night.

Am I alone in getting goosebumps as you enter through Claridge’s hotel’s revolving door? The interior is just so stylish and glamorous. Hydrangeas were arranged beautifully throughout. (NB excuse the poorly lit photos; 5pm in late October means it was dark)

Seated in the low lit Foyer  we enjoyed the musicians playing nearby while we admired the Chihuly chandelier.

gluten free afternoon tea Claridges Hotel

The atmosphere was relaxed and the room had a lovely chattery buzz. Not in the least bit stuffy; people were well dressed but not OTT. (The dress code is elegant smart casual). And in a reminder at how popular afternoon tea is; every table was occupied.

gluten free afternoon tea menu Claridges

We started with a glass of champagne and our sandwiches were delivered with a flourish. Now call me weird but it’s usually the sandwiches I love most about afternoon tea. And these sandwiches were just marvellous. The gluten free bread was pillow soft.

gluten free afternoon tea Claridges Hotel

And the fillings. Oh my. They were all delicious but if I had to choose a favourite it would be the Dorrington ham with truffled Parmesan dressing and the Severn & Wye smoked salmon with lemon and samphire running a close second.

gluten free sandwiches Claridges hotel

Aside from the taste and imaginative, good quality fillings, what really impressed me about the sandwiches was that I had exactly the same as the gluten eaters. I had (a lovely) afternoon tea at the Lanesborough recently but my sandwich fillings were vegetarian. Delicious, but I’d have preferred to be served, as at Claridges, the same fillings as everyone else.

Once our sandwiches and champagne had been demolished (yes they replenish the sandwiches if you would like and yes I did), we moved on to scones and pastries along with the tea choice.

I’m a complete jasmine tea fan so I was keen to try the Claridges blend and it didn’t disappoint!

gluten free scones

The gluten free scones were spectacular! Not in the slightest crumbly and delivered warmed. Alongside the Cornish clotted cream, I liked the Marco Polo gelée they were served with. Although if I had one thing I’d have changed, it would be to have lemon curd with the scones. Is that sacrilege? I don’t know but I loved the lemon curd served with scones at the Lanesborough.

gluten free afternoon tea

My pastries in this photo are all both gluten and nut free. If you are only gluten free, I think your selection might be a little different.

gluten free claridges hotel

A final word on service. Just extraordinarily great. I realised after we left that I didn’t lift the tea pot once; my cup was constantly and seamlessly replenished, almost without me even noticing. At no point during our afternoon tea did we feel even remotely hurried or pushed to vacate the table for later guests. Perhaps this is a result of the 5pm booking, but I suspect we could’ve stayed (and I would’ve been happy to settle in) for the whole evening. If you are looking for a special treat, I could not recommend the whole afternoon tea experience at Claridges more highly.

Location: Claridge’s Hotel, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Website: Claridges Hotel
Would I come back?: In a heartbeat
Cost: Traditional Afternoon Tea £58 / with a glass of Laurent-Perrier £68 / with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé £78

Top tip: Book as far in advance as you can, afternoon tea at Claridges is very popular.

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Gluten and Nut Free Afternoon Tea Claridges Hotel, London