Gluten free at the Medicine garden Cobham

On one of the hottest days of the year I decided to go and investigate a walled garden with cafe’s and shops in Cobham. I only recently found out about this beautiful walled garden on  Instagram. After seeing lovely pics I was keen to go and explore.

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Not far from the centre of Cobham Surrey the Walled garden can be found on Downside road KT11 3LU . My sat nav didn’t quite get the position right , undeterred I phoned up and a helpful lady explained that it was just a little further up the road. Medicine garden shares an entrance with a fencing company. Both sets of signs are clear to see from the road. There is plenty of free parking and the Gardens themselves are free to enter. A donation is requested for the upkeep of the gardens but this is not compulsory .

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As I visited towards the end of August many of the beautiful flowers were going over, but this did not take away from my overall experience. Bees and butterflies were still busy amongst the remaining bright colours and seed heads stood to attention in the heat on the midday sun.

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It was quite a lot to take in at first, I hadn’t gone with any preconceived ideas. The Medicine garden is enclosed in a gorgeous old wall and with the bright blue sky and honey coloured stone and palm tree you could have been somewhere far more exotic than Cobham. Not that Cobham isn’t a lovely destination !

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Firstly I took a tour around the entire area taking in the Airstream converted to a cafe, a canopied south facing raised seating area with miss match of bright coloured chairs a huge pink leather settee and large ornate mirror.

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A more shady area to the left with white roses growing up the wall and long tables perfect for a large group.

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A small play area fort for 4yrs and up surrounded by sand , full of little ones making the most of the school holidays. Next to a small veggie patch.

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Bike stands available for cyclists  making it a perfect half way spot for an espresso.

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This bike had seen better days but made a perfect container for flowers.

Glistening in the sunshine the vintage Airstream has pride of place serving teas and coffee’s etc from late spring to early autumn.

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On through to the most quirky garden pod cafe, set in the courtyard and formerly the potting shed open daily throughout the year. I was here to seek out any gluten free offerings, and I wasn’t to be disappointed. The staff were very friendly and helpful and explained that all the gluten free cakes and biscuits came from a local bakery Le Papillon Patisserie ( this is not a dedicated gluten free bakery ) but the GF labeled cakes on site in the cafe were stored in separate glass covered containers. There were three choices of gluten free and a vegan choice.

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I chose a gluten free macaroon and a cup of english breakfast tea, I tend to take my own milk as I prefer unsweetend almond. I imagine that the cafe would offer a dairy free alternative to milk. I think my bill was about £4 about average for anywhere in Surrey.

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I carried my tray out onto the south facing terrace under the shade of the huge white canopy . It was maybe a little to hot to be sitting in the sun but it looked so welcoming that I embraced the heat! For those who prefer the shade there was a cool shady courtyard on the other side of the cafe offering relief from the hot sun and many people were sensibly enjoying their lunches in the cool.

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Even though the car park was very busy there was plenty of places to sit I chose a tiny table and chair looking out onto the grass slowly getting scorched in the sun. My gluten free macaroon was a real treat , I have to admit I am always nervous of eating baked goods out as I worry about cross contamination. I have been absolutely fine after eating it and I’m sure they are careful to avoid causing any ill effects. I really liked my mug, and the tea and would definitely take friends along next time.

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Soon the heat became too much so I retreated into the shade of the courtyard. A selection of tiny shops. The Art shed, The Beehive, Blid and Hattan gatherings, The White Orchid flower shop and The Pineapple store entice you in. Plenty of plants for sale too and garden pots etc .

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Most of the little shops were in the shade and on the more northerly side of the courtyard allowing a rest bite from the intense heat of the day. I enjoyed a browse and could think of quite a few friends who would enjoy these indie shops too.

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The courtyard is also home to The Hothouse cafe, on my visit it certainly was a hot house! but on a regular English day I’m sure it would be lovely to sit inside. Gluten free bread was on offer but as always if you are Coeliac check first about their cross contamination policy ( separate toaster etc )

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The Medicine garden does not allow you to bring picnics along, but encourages you to buy something tasty from the cafe’s and eat it in or alfresco on one of the sun decks and for a picnic style you can borrow a blanket or sit on one of the extra large deckchairs.

Babies food is an exception and home prepared can be eaten in the gardens. Many families with young children where gathered in groups under the shade of the trees. Ice creams and lollies were available and I noticed a sign saying most flavours were gluten free. To upkeep the beautiful gardens and walls they  encourage you to purchase something from the cafe’s . A small price to pay to spend as long as you like in this stunning environment and to maintain it for the future.

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I made time to walk around the circle of trees reading carefully the inspirational texts written at each point . Even with the sun beating down it was a few moments of calm.

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My next visit won’t be too far away I’m sure. But I particularly look forward to late spring / early summer 2017 when I’m sure the gardens will be at their best.

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I can really recommend this hidden gem, why not go and check it out for yourself .

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You can follow Medicine garden on Instagram @medicinegardencobham 

Twitter @medicinegarden 

 

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Gluten free treats from Manna Dew

On Saturday I found myself in Battersea park for the Formula E racing . The extra bonus to a day out watching racing cars was that I remembered the Mann Dew was close by.

Manna Dew is a 100% gluten free Patisserie and Bakery Cafe serving breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas situated on a classic London cobblestone street in Battersea. The Patisserie does not use refined sugar instead opting for sugars such as agave and coconut sugar. ( Macaron the only exception )

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I walked from the park following the directions on Google maps which took about 12 mins. Manna Dew was a smaller shop than I expected but once inside I was impressed with the quality of the interior, and the cleanliness.   A real little gem. The array of patisserie delights was mind blowing along with the aroma of freshly baked bakery goods and the smell of fresh coffee. The choice was a little overwhelming for me. I rarely find a shop where I can safely induldge in such amazing gluten free treats .

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The bakery goods looked great, the French baguettes, yes baguettes! looked Amazing , seeded buns and focaccia looked and smelt so tempting hard to believe they didn’t contain gluten.

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Due to having Crohn’s disease as well as being intolerant to gluten means gluten free grains are only for treat days. I find that too many gluten free grains affect me if eaten regularly. But for a Coeliac or someone who is gluten intolerant this place is a dream come true you !

I could see that the staff were very busy, a young family with three children were enjoying a pre booked afternoon tea, another group of people were sitting outside in the sunshine while a delivery for Deliveroo was being sorted and sent on its way.

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As I was short for time and needed to get back for the Formula E big race I made an order to take away. I chose a chocolate brownie, a mini carrot cake and a toasted Italian focaccia for my husband. I am intolerant to yeast otherwise I would have chosen the chicken focaccia which looked amazing.

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I had a short chat with Muhammed who kindly gave me a raspberry passion fruit tart to try as he said it was one of their signature patisserie tarts and I he wanted me to try it. A very generous gift.

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I dashed back to the Park to enjoy my picnic. My husband was very impressed with the toasted focaccia saying he couldn’t tell that it was gluten free. In fact he thought it was nicer than most regular gluten focaccia sandwiches. We shared the decadent chocolate brownie, an intensely chocolatey slice, gooey and very rich . A big hit and something I would order again. I enjoyed the carrot cake all to myself, again really delicious and light.

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The special patisserie raspberry and passionfruit tart was saved until we were home. Amazingly it survived intact.

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The raspberry passionfruit tart was indeed a triumph, a biscuity pastry with a tangy filling and fresh fruit. So glad I was able to try this. I enjoyed it and would order again. My husband said he would of preferred a more simple pastry case.

I would love to see added to the range some grain free treats too I think they would be very popular, I for one would be back in a flash to try them .

Do pay Manna Dew a visit if you live in London or are visiting London in the near future. Locals can also have delicious gluten free treats delivered to their door with Deliveroo and JINN . Places like this will not survive unless we show our support to indie shops like this delightful one.

Why not book a trip soon , there is currently a special offer on afternoon tea, check the website for details.

You can follow Manna Dew on Twitter @mannadew

Website mannadew.co.uk

Tuesday to Friday 10am – 6pm

Sat & Sun 10.30am – 6pm

169 Battersea high street SW11 3JS

 

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My visit to the stunning Wiveton Hall, normal for Norfolk!

I love the North Norfolk coast and I’m a regular visit to Wiveton Hall ,café and fruit farm . Usually I go along for tea and gluten free cake and buy seasonal fruit and vegetables . I find it a great place to take friends and family.

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The location is just perfect with views stretching down towards the marshes and sea. After watching the BBC 2 series Normal for Norfolk the documentary about Wiveton Hall and the undeniably slightly eccentric character that is Norfolk gentleman farmer Desmond MacCarthy . His mother the lovely Chloe at 100 is still very much part of the farm and cafe and who I spotted enjoying a gluten free brownie , which I have to say looked delicious.

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On Sunday inspired by the tv series I made the drive along the coast road to Wiveton hall fruit farm with my husband. The sun was shining brightly and although the car thermometer was only reading 12c it felt much warmer. The scenery along the coast road was gorgeous. winding through pretty villages, passing a windmill , fields of rapeseed and hedgerows of cow parsley.

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I had pre booked a lunch for two at 1. 30pm We arrived and parked up, as always it was packed . Do book in advance online if you want to eat at Wiveton Hall. Its always been very busy but I’m sure due to Normal for Norfolk’s popularity this summer will be its best!

We were shown to a large clean table with views down to the sea in the distance. Bright coloured chairs and fun patterned table cloths make this light bright airy cafe the perfect place for a sunny Sunday lunch. I was delighted that Desmond himself was in the cafe chatting to families. He kindly agreed to a photo for my blog post and was interested to hear where we had come from.

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Chloe, Desmonds mother has her own designated table. Where she was sitting waiting for her Sunday lunch and possibly waiting for Desmond to finish chatting with one and all and come and sit down!

The big table next to us was a family celebrating the grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Wiveton cafe is very family friendly and if you prefer there is a seating area outside for families and dogs. The chairs and tables outside are painted in zingy bright colours and have an outstanding view of the Norfolk countryside and distant views of the sea.

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Before I booked online I contacted the cafe by email to explain my dietary requirements. Charlotte emailed me back straight away assuring we I would be well looked after and also giving me a menu idea for my visit that would fit in with my many intolerances. This was very reassuring .

At the cafe you take your order to the till where you can pay in advance or at the end. The  kitchen is open and right next door and if you had any questions, which I did about choice of gluten free puddings they were quickly answered.

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I chose Hot smoked salmon and Wiveton asparagus salad with a horseradish, tomato and lime creme fraise dressing, this was the menu idea from Charlotte.  Followed by homemade Wiveton strawberry sorbet. My husband went for the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with roasties and asparagus. His dessert choice was cappuccino panna cotta  with nut praline and raisins soaked in rum. Tea for one and a ginger beer.

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The drinks and food arrived promptly and were well presented. My salmon and asparagus salad was a good size and delicious the flavours delicate and a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before. Baby salad leaves, fresh asparagus picked from Wiveton farm and a good size piece of salmon with tomatoes. I would definitely chose it again.

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I eat out so rarely that when I do, and feel confident in the chefs , I always get a little emotional. The sheer joy of not having to cook and to be able to eat out like everyone else. That might seem quite crazy and difficult to understand but when you are intolerant to gluten , yeast thats vinegar, wine etc. Onions, garlic and paprika. Eating out becomes so difficult especially with the worry of cross contamination from gluten. These days any of these foods can cause me to be extremely ill for days and weeks to come.

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My husband enjoyed his large roast dinner with perfectly cooked pink slices of beef with crispy Yorkshire with plenty of hot meaty gravy.

Our desserts were both gluten free so I was able to sample to cappuccino panna cotta. My husband wasn’t convinced on the flavour combination with the nut brittle and the rum soaked raisins but I thought it was a clever idea that I’m sure worked well. My Wiveton strawberry homemade sorbet was a real treat. Bursting with early english strawberry flavour and more than a little sugar! ( well it was a treat pud ! )

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I thought the prices were ok my salad was £13.50 and the roast was £16.50 the desserts were £6 each. I found the waiting staff were friendly and very helpful.

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After my delicious meal I suggested we took a walk around the gardens this costs £2.50 each from the shop. Which by the way is amazing and I got carried away buying a Wiveton mug, postcards and Wiveton jam. Some lovely things, much of which is locally made.

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The gardens was something after seeing the tv show I really wanted to explore.

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Unfortunately the hall itself isn’t open to the public this is very much Desmond and his families home. But the walled garden , the outside of the hall and wild woodland gardens  are truly worth an afternoon stroll. I properly fell in love with the place and could of quite easily spent hours there.

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If you are up in Norfolk it is well worth a visit. Just don’t forget to book in advance if you want to eat at the cafe. You can click through here to find availability. There are also holiday cottages to stay in.

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Wiveton cafe is open for lunch and afternoon tea. Friday evenings for Beef and Reef. Saturdays are Tapas night, also pizza evenings . Special events are on the website too.

Before you leave its well worth checking out the plants, fruit and vegetables available to buy.

Wiveton Hall website

follow on Twitter @wivetonhall 

check out @Iizzirainey handmade lovely things available in the Wiveton shop

Missed the series Normal for Norfolk? click here to view 

 

These views and this stunning scenery is really Normal for Norfolk! come and see for yourself

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Côte Brasserie gluten free update

Today I treated myself to lunch out with a friend. Now Côte Brasserie has come to my local town I have a safe choice to eat out gluten free. Click here to see Côte Brasserie locations 

Taking inspiration from the brasseries of Paris, Côte offers authentic french classics with many options available which are free from gluten.

I chose Steak frites from the gluten free menu. The gluten free menu is large and has plenty to choose from. Click here to see the full GF menu 

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Due to my extra food intolerances steak is a good option for me.

The meals arrived promptly and my steak looked really delicious, I was impressed, great flavour and perfectly cooked. The frites as always were very good.

New breakfast gluten free menu

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Côte Brasserie have always been good for gluten free but now they have the added bonus of being accredited by Coeliac UK joining other chains including  Carluccio’s , La Tasca , Frankie and Benny’s , find complete list here Coeliac UK accredited eateries 

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A recent visit to Côte Brasserie in London

Updated gluten free menu click here

follow Côte on Instagram Cote_brasserie

Gluten free at Flat Iron

Yesterday Mr S and I decided to have a day in London. Even though the weather was freezing and damp we wrapped up and took the train to Victoria. Selfridges was our first stop for a few gluten free treats. I choose apricot abricotines and viennese shortbread from Peace of cake London and a bakewell slice.

We then had a walk around Marylebone and found a gorgeous indie cheese shop La Fromargerie and bought some extremely stinky delicious cheese.

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We took a taxi along to Soho and quickly found Flat Iron ,a restaurant that I had heard did great steak and gluten free chips. The restaurant is on Beak street really close to Carnaby street. Flat Iron was packed with customers and the friendly door guy took our phone number so that they could text us when a table was available with a web link counting down until a table was free. He had warned us that it would be approximately a 50min wait. I normally wouldn’t wait such a long time for a meal, but as it was already 2ish and we had come over specially  we took a walk around Carnaby street in the rain.

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After about 40mins a text came through to say our table was ready. Hungry and more than a little chilly we were shown up one flight of stairs to a narrow but warm room with exposed brick walls, knives on the walls and simple brown paper style menus. Here you sit on communal tables.

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The menu makes life very easy, a great place for those who struggle to decide on what to eat! Just one choice of main and one special. The main is a steak, not a fillet or sirloin but a feather blade steak which comes from the shoulder. This is served with a small green salad.

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The chips I’m pleased to say are gluten free and are fried in dripping. Possible my favourite chips ever! There was a choice of 5 sides and 4 sauces. Mr S choose Fred’s sauce.

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Our waiter came over promptly and explained the entire menu and told us all about the cut of the steak, he was very helpful and reassuring about what on the menu was gluten free and pointing out the very few things that weren’t safe for me.

The special yesterday was a wagyu burger for £15

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Our meals arrived quickly , the steaks looked and tasted very good. Tender and flavoursome ,perfectly cooked. The chips were equally scrummy and I will definitely returning for more very soon.

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In fact I cannot fault the meal, simple and delicious and at £12.50 for a main course good value for money.

The only dessert on offer is sadly not gluten free, I was surprised that a chocolate salt caramel mousse needed to contain gluten. Maybe something to look at for the future?

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I watched Mr S enjoy his light and creamy mousse. This was priced at £2.50 . Thankfully I had earlier bought the treat sweet bakes to indulge in on the way home.

Flat Iron has three restaurants in London

Beak street, Denmark street and Henrietta street

The restaurant doesn’t take reservations

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You can find out more here

Website – FlatIronSteak

Twitter – @flatironsteak

If you are in Soho why not go and try it for yourself , I would like to hear your thoughts.

 

Norwich’s very own gluten free cafe and shop

Today we drove over to Norwich to visit The gluten free cafe and shop on Timber hill. We parked at the John Lewis car park but there are numerous places to park near the shop and cafe. The setting is perfect on a pretty street, one of the oldest recorded city streets in Norwich. Home to quirky shops , boutiques and beauty salons. Since January home to this exciting new enterprise from the Norfolk gluten free company. 

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I was blown away by the smartness and quality of the exterior and interior of the cafe and shop. Stepping into the busy cosy cafe I felt like a child in a sweet shop. To know that you can eat from the entire menu on the large black board was the most exciting thing ever. If  like me you have Coeliac disease or gluten intolerant  you will totally understand the wave of relief and calm you feel when you know you are safe to eat somewhere that is 100% gluten free with no worries of cross contamination. It offers a huge range of tasty savoury and sweet options for all the family including delicious looking soups and pies, quiches and ploughman’s. An enormous array of sweet treats from chocolate eclairs and muffins to beautiful cup cakes and flapjacks . You could have the biggest sugar high ! We all need a treat sometimes

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The staff were busy with lots of happy customers. Today Families , young couples and older people were sat around at tables drinking coffee and eating lunch. It was lovely to see the place so busy. We found a little table near the window where we could watch the world go by. I decided on hot cheesy balls with butter for lunch and Mr S choose a chicken pie with ploughman lunch, with coffee.

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After ordering at the counter I couldn’t resist a quick look upstairs at the gluten free shop where I was greeted by the lovely Louisa founder of the Norfolk gluten free company . I scanned the shelves full of everything you could possibly imagine, it really is like an Aladdin’s cave. I was beyond excited , far superior to a free from section in a supermarket. From an incredible selection of freshly baked bread goods from Wheat free bakery ( the best bread in my family’s opinion ) to pies and quiches and dry mixes , pasta’s, taco and wraps. Every gluten free flour, dough ball mix  I could go on.

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After doing a quick grab of goodies and paying upstairs I was down just in time for my Latte and hot yummy cheesy dough balls. These can be served with a selection of dips but I went for butter with mine. they were so scummy.

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With so many extra food intolerances I often find it difficult to order anything when I am out shopping. These were just what I needed. My husband was pleased with his flaky chicken pie packed with hearty pieces of chicken inside with a side salad, bread roll and cheese plus chutney, a feast.

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My coffee was so good I ordered a second and couldn’t resist a sweet treat.

 

IMG_9904 Its not often I can go out and order a pudding . After much thought I decided on the caramel choux bun and Mr S had a fruit and chocolate flap jack.

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I spotted some very pretty looking cup cakes made by the talented Imogen from Sugar buttons cakes so it would of been rude not to take one home for later . A toffee popcorn cupcake was popped into a little cake bag for me to enjoy later.

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Imogen made my son and daughter in law’s wedding cupcakes in August 2014 so I know just how good they are. As well as cup cakes Imogen makes the most stunning large gluten free Wedding cakes too, do check out her website Sugar buttons creative.

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Before I left I had one more quick look upstairs in the shop, It is a surprisingly good size space. So if you are in for a coffee don’t forget to take a look yourself. I choose some freshly baked bread to take home and some extra special chocolate hearts from Montezuma.

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The prices in the cafe and shop I thought were very fair and we will definitely return next time we are in Norwich armed with extra bags and more room in the freezer to take home lots of gluten free bread for the family.

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I do hope if you are in the Norwich area or visiting Norfolk this year you will make time to visit this fabulous cafe and shop. If we don’t support these brave enterprises they won’t survive . I would like to wish Louisa and her team all the very best for the future. I’m sure you have a real success on your hands. I could see just how much work must have gone into the last few months do get this venture off the ground in the centre of this beautiful city.

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You can find the Cafe and shop at the top Timber hill number 21 on the left hand side as you look down the hill.

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Website – Norfolk gluten free company

Twitter – @nklkglutenfree

 

Review of Niche gluten free restaurant in London

Last thursday four of us went to Niche to celebrate my Son’s birthday. It was our very first visit .

Niche is a gluten free restaurant in Islington providing British comfort food which is all gluten free.

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The restaurant has a very relaxed atmosphere, more cafe style than restaurant. A modern clean airy space in a prime spot on the corner of a Rosebury avenue , just down the road from Sadlers Wells theatre.

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I thought ordering would be relatively straight forward against other regular restaurants, but this turned out to not be the case. Firstly I went through my intolerances and that I had coeliac disease and gave the waiter my card. He then went through the starters with me, and popping back to talk to the chef re yeast onion and garlic and paprika. Unfortunately this ruled all the delicious looking starters except a plate of smoked salmon or a goats cheese salad.

I was excited to try the gluten free burger for my main but this contained onion so I had to rule it out , secondly I chose a steak, my go to meal at every restaurant. Unbelievable for me the steaks at Niche are marinated making them of limits to me. I plumped for sea bass in the end with potatoes and no sauce instead I asked for some green vegetables. I was pleased the family could order all the gluten free starters that I wanted to try, the deep fried parmesan and cheddar doughnuts and the fried chicken. For main courses they went for beef and chorizo pie and mash, sausage and mash and a goats cheese and Portobello mushroom burger on a gluten free bun with fries.

Our starters arrived promptly and the fried chicken strips and parmesan and cheddar doughnuts looked amazing. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t have either. Maybe something for Niche to look at? Many Coeliacs and those with intolerances can’t tolerate yeast, dairy, onions or sometimes garlic etc.  Just one simple treat starter would be appreciated. My smoked salmon was really delicious and I was given a huge portion.

The fried chicken strips cost £7.75 and were a hit and the parmesan and cheddar doughnuts cost £6.50 were liked but not raved about. My husband had the goats cheese salad which he enjoyed.

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Our main courses arrived next my sea bass was nicely presented but I asked for some butter to just cheer it up a little. The butter came individually wrapped portions very sweet 8/10  cost £15.25

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The sausage and mash meal was enjoyed. Delicious gluten free sausages but the mash and gravy were not overly warm 6.5/10  cost £12.25

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Beef and chorizo pie and mash was well presented there was a lot of pastry which was nice and crisp but just rather too much of it with a small amount of filling with only two slices of chorizo inside. It was given 7/10   cost £12.75

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The goats cheese and portobello mushroom burger looked amazing but was difficult and messy to eat and on a very small plate so no room to get into it.  The chips never arrived, which we only spotted at the end. 8.5/10   cost £12.25

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A lady came to take our dessert order and we mentioned about the lack of chips she apologised and offered a free pudding. I asked for information about the treacle tart which I had been really looking forward too. But after talking to the chef I was told it was made from gluten free bread that contained yeast. I was really disappointed but chose the chocolate brownie. My meal was turning in to the classic meal I have every where in all regular restaurants.

The family chose the treacle tart which scored a 6.5/10 as the pastry was too thick and the filling dry. They were underwhelmed   cost £5.75

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St Clements cheese cake scored a 8/10   cost £6.25

and my brownie was delicious and very moist 9/10 ( but not a very original pudding for a gluten free restaurant ) My warm brownie arrived with ice cream but I had ordered cream they once again apologised . cost £4.75

 

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Over all it is a pleasant restaurant for those who are gluten intolerant or have Coeliac disease as there is Zero risk of cross contamination but I think they are missing a trick by not finding out more about those with intolerances and designing a menu taking this into consideration. Niche is a reasonably priced restaurant well worth a visit.

I’m not sure about the reasoning behind the venture and whether anyone in the team is coeliac or gluten intolerant but It almost seems that Niche is jumping on the gluten free band wagon?  I may be entirely wrong but I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to anyone in charge. Maybe next time I will have the opportunity to ask.

 

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We had a lovely evening out together and would visit the restaurant again if we were in the area. I’m not sure we would make a special journey just to eat there though.

I look forward to hearing your reviews, especially if you have no added intolerances. I’m sure you will have a great time.

website –

Niche restaurant

Twitter –

@nichefoods

Menu here

closed Mondays