A nippy October evening found me in Banstead, Surrey in search of fish and chips. But just not any fish and chips, gluten free fish and chips. I’m not sure how long it is since I last had fish and chips but since I don’t have a deep fat fryer at home, it must be a really long time.
I was there to meet up with the lovely Annie (Annie’s Supperclub) and another Twitter friend. Annie and I had heard amazing reports of The Seine Rigger in Banstead and the high quality of their gluten free fish and chips. We were all very excited to meet up there together.
Although I live in South West London, getting there after work involved a 1 hour 40 minute journey from my office. More on this later.
The Seine Rigger operates a very successful take away fish and chip as well as a restaurant. As we approached the restaurant we were greeted with a huge queue of people waiting for their takeaway fish and chips. On a Thursday night, at 7pm. A very promising sight indeed. Peering into the restaurant we saw it was very busy and there were only 2 tables left free, one of which had thankfully been reserved for us.
We settled at the table and I decided to go traditional. Cod, chips and shared portion of mushy peas. In order to provide truly gluten free fish and chips the Seine Rigger have recently bought a separate standalone fryer where all the gluten free fish can be cooked without any chance of cross contamination.
When my gluten free fish and chips arrived I was impressed. And very glad that I’d barely eaten that day! The cod was chunky, fat and firm. The batter tasted to me just as I remembered regular batter tasting and it stayed crispy even when it took me a fair while to eat it as we were chatting so much.
Chef James later explained to us that their fish comes directly from Billingsgate and they always use fresh fish, never frozen. Given how busy the take away and restaurant was I assume their turnaround must be short on using the fish too. Chef James said he’d prefer people to let them know in advance if you’d like to order gluten free fish and chips so they can prepare the batter fresh. However this isn’t essential and if you go there on a spur of the moment decision, providing gluten free batter won’t be a problem.
For dessert, I didn’t even need to look at the menu. I’d already heard they offered a gluten free pineapple fritter. Wow.
When the pineapple fritter was placed in front of me I could barely contain my excitement. It was, frankly, a taste sensation. The gluten free batter for the fritter was slightly different to that of the fish. It was more biscuit like in texture, I think from the sugar in the pineapple. Annie and James chatted about the content of the flours used to make the batters at the Seine Rigger. I noted that rice cones were involved since I’ve never heard of these before. However, aside from this most of their discussion passed me by since I was immersed in a cloud of contentment thanks to a fantastic meal and great company.
The service was fun and friendly. I guess some restaurants would consider us to be the troublesome table. Three women all needing gluten free food. Despite our repeated questions (“is this tartare sauce gluten free, are you sure?), we were looked after fantastically well by Kim. For the record, the tartare sauce is gluten free and is made by the restaurant. The ketchup is made by Heinz and is gluten free.
So here’s the thing, it took me 1 hour 40 minutes to travel to a fish and chip restaurant, albeit a fantastic one. Just because they served gluten free fish and chips. There can be very few eating establishments in the UK without Michelin stars which could elicit such extraordinary distances to be travelled, just to eat there. When we spoke to Chef James, he recognises that they are not just serving the Coeliac / gluten intolerant person who visits his restaurant with his gluten free menu, it’s the business their dining companions bring along with them. I know I’m not alone in being willing to travel a long way to enjoy a great, and most importantly, safe meal. Don’t we all wish more restaurants would think like this?
A huge thank you to James, Kim and team at the Seine Rigger for looking after us so well. Really looking forward to the next time!
The Seine Rigger: 11 Nork Way, Banstead, Surrey SM7 1PB
Open Lunch & Evening, Monday to Saturday:
- 11.45am to 1.45pm*
- 5.00pm to 9.30pm*
- Booking advisable on 01737 351168
- Remember to call in advance to request gluten free batter is prepared for your visit
*Last orders time