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

Gluten Free Paris: Restaurants Open In Evenings

On my recent trip to Paris I was again reminded how the gluten free restaurant and cafe scene is really booming there (spoiler; it’s not like this in the rest of France). However, many of the gluten free places in Paris are bakery/cafe type establishments and they mainly operate during day time hours only. I find this a bit frustrating and it presents a problem if, like me, you are looking for an evening meal with safe gluten free options.

I have been to NoGlu before (you can read my review here). Whilst it’s open in the evening, I was a little disappointed not to be bowled over by the food on my previous visit. I was expecting more innovative dishes than the naturally gluten free items the menu mostly contained. Consequently I was looking for somewhere different to try. Also on my list was a restaurant special enough for dinner with two great friends of mine who live in Paris and neither of whom is gluten free.

So I was delighted to discover that My Free Kitchen was open in the evenings as I hadn’t eaten there on previous trips. My Free Kitchen is located less than 10 minutes walk from Gare du Nord. This was an easy walk even with my luggage, laptop and a tonne of magazines to read while I was away. Everything at My Free Kitchen is gluten free and lactose free.

My Free Kitchen

The interior of the restaurant was light, white and Scandinavian-style fresh. On shelves, packages of their cake mixes – which you can buy – were displayed.

My Free Kitchen

It was after 9pm by the time I arrived (they close at 10pm) so was a little quiet. My Free Kitchen post their daily changing menu on their Instagram page. I hadn’t really given a great deal of thought to the day’s menu until I was standing in the restaurant. It was chilly in Paris that evening so I went for a hot dish, hachis parmentier, known on the other side of the Channel as cottage pie. It was tasty but the portion was huge and I couldn’t finish it all.

My Free Kitchen

The staff at MFK were very friendly and welcoming and I didn’t feel out of place dining alone there (in fact I’m rarely bothered about this). Organic wine is sold by the glass (EUR 5). I will definitely be coming back to eat at My Free Kitchen again. Next time I’ll try one of their gluten free pizzas, which you can also take away or have delivered via Deliveroo, handy if you’re staying in an AirBnB within the delivery area.

Sadly, for my meal with friends I couldn’t find the right balance of safe gluten free option and more special restaurant for the next night’s dinner. So instead, the next evening we went to a lovely modern take on a Parisien bistro they recommended. Where I had steak and chips, which I always seem to do in France!

If, like me, you’re looking for somewhere in Paris to eat with gluten free options, I’ve compiled a list of places which are open in the evening. (NB These restaurants are also open during the day). This list specifically includes places which are open for an evening meal, i.e., I have not included places closing at 7.30 or 8pm. Also note, some of these restaurants have more than one location. I’ve specified the location (by arrondisement) which is open in the evening.

  • Bears and Raccoons (11th arrondisement) – open to 9.30pm  Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • PNY Hamburgers (three locations; 3rd, 10th & 11th) all open to either 11 or 11.30pm 7 days a week
  • Cafe Pinson (3rd) – open to 10pm Monday to Saturday
  • Breizh Cafe (3rd) – open to 11pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10pm Sunday
  • Nous (9th) – open 7 – 10.30 pm 7 days a week
  • Saveurs Veget’Halles (1st) – open to 11pm Monday to Sunday
  • Noglu (2nd) – open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 7.30 – 10pm

NOTE: Opening times for restaurants in Paris can vary considerably, especially during August when they may close for several weeks and/or work on reduced opening hours. Please ensure you check the website for any restaurant you wish to visit to make sure it’s open on the day/time you plan to eat there.

I’m a frequent visitor to Paris so I keep a Pinterest board for any new Paris restaurants I stumble across. You can follow it here.

Have you been to Paris recently? Do you have any gluten free restaurants which are open on weekday evenings to add to the list above? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

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gluten free paris

Gluten Free Travel: Changes to In-Flight Catering on British Airways

The announcement was finally made this week that British Airways are due to scrap complimentary food and drinks on all short haul flights departing London Heathrow and Gatwick in Economy from 11 January 2017.

Normally I would pay little interest to this for several reasons (not least there’s usually nothing gluten free on offer in Economy) but when I heard they would be selling Marks & Spencer’s food on-board I was intrigued. M&S are delivering some really great gluten free products at the moment, from a wide range of sandwiches, wraps and salads through to sweet options.

I reached out to both M&S and British Airways via Twitter to see what might be on offer for the gluten free traveller next year on BA. I was particularly interested to see if they would offer a savoury option as well as – I imagine – the ubiquitous sweet treat which seems to be the default option for gluten free provision.


I also asked Marks and Spencer what would be on the in-flight menu:



Finally I checked the BA website which states:

“Launching on 11 January, a seasonally inspired ‘M&S on board’ menu will feature a variety of delicious fresh sandwiches, salads, savoury nibbles and sweet treats. There will be a number of healthy eating, gluten-free and vegetarian options to choose from, including many of the popular selections you know and love from this iconic, British high street favourite.”

So far so good, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Here is the list of food options which are published on the BA website as available to buy. And just look at what’s first in the list! The bane of every gluten free flyer, the FRUIT SALAD!

Fresh food

Classic Fruit Salad £3.10

Includes pineapple, melon, mango, apple, kiwi and blueberries.

Yogurt with Summer Berry Compote and Crunchy Granola – £1.95 

Reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt, blackberry and blackcurrant compote and granola with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Mature Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s – £3.00 

Farmhouse cheddar cheese with vine-ripened tomatoes, pickle and lettuce on malted brown bread

Aberdeen Angus Beef and Red Onion Chutney Bloomer – £4.75

Soft onion bloomer with Aberdeen Angus beef, red onion chutney and tangy mustard.

Bacon Roll – £4.75

A soft white, buttered roll filled with succulent smoked British bacon. Served hot.

Mozzarella and Tomato Focaccia – £4.75

Buffalo mozzarella, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes and fragrant basil pesto dressing on pesto focaccia. Served hot.

Spiced Chicken with Quinoa and Rice – £4.95

Spiced chicken with quinoa, rice and a smoky tomato salsa.

Savoury snacks

Oriental Snack Mix – £2.00

Sesame-coated roasted cashew nuts, edamame soybeans, and roasted corn with puffed brown rice all with a soy and five-spice seasoning.

Hand Cooked Crisps – £1.00

Salt and Vinegar, or Lightly Sea Salted.

Nut Assortment – £1.60

A selection of almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts and hazelnuts.

Wasabi Peas – £1.60

Roasted green peas with a punchy wasabi flavoured coating.

Something sweet

Percy Pig – £1.85

Soft fruit-flavoured gums made with fruit juice…an M&S classic.

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Millionaire Biscuit – £1.45

Made without wheat and deliciously gluten free.

Chocolate Pretzels and Candy Popcorn – £2.45

Milk chocolate-covered toffee popcorn with popping candy pieces.

Super Nut Fruit and Seed Flapjack – £1.45

Soft, chewy all-butter flapjack.

From the list above of savoury options, perhaps the chicken and quinoa salad will be gluten free, but I’ve been unable to find nutritional information online for this salad so I don’t know. If you’ve seen it in store and know if it is/is not gluten free, please do leave a comment below and I’ll edit this post.

As someone with a nut allergy, I find it interesting they will be actively selling the Nut Assortment on the flights (I’m allergic to 2 of the 4 nuts listed in that pack), in addition to the Oriental Snack Mix which also contains cashew nuts. Is this really necessary to introduce more allergens to the plane when you have a choice not to? For me, this also means that the one listed Made Without Wheat item, Salted Caramel Hazelnut Millionaire Biscuit is off limits for me also (allergic to hazelnuts).

So, what does this mean for the gluten free flyer? Not much change in my view. Either eat at one of the good gluten free options at the airports (there are many options at both London airports e.g., Carluccio’s, Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, Leon, The Grain Store….) Or take along your own picnic of things you actually like eating. And you’ll probably save some £ too. Which will come in handy since from January BA will be charging £6 for a gin and tonic.

Notes:

  • These changes apply to short haul flights with a flight time under 5 hours
  • Moscow (flight time 4 hours) is NOT included in the upcoming changes
  • The changes apply to flights departing London Heathrow and London Gatwick on British Airways. If you’re flying on BA from Stansted or London City, these changes do not apply
  • This also does not apply to flights in Club Europe where an enhanced in flight meal service is apparently planned (I won’t hold my breath on that one….)