Isle of Wight

I’ve just spent a lovely week on the Isle of Wight with three friends. We got a groupon deal that meant we paid £21 each for 4 nights in a caravan and the return ferry crossing! Not bad. It rained a fair bit but we had sun too, and I ate a lot of lovely gluten free vegetarian food, I didn’t think it’d be so easy! There are some photos from the week on my other blog Josie Makes.

Pretty much all the places we ate at I found on the Isle of Wight Coeliac facebook page– such a great help!!!!

I think I was so hungry on the first day I couldn’t even wait to take photos before eating! When we arrived we went to Godshill, and visited the Old Smithy Tea Rooms, I ordered a vegetarian breakfast (fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans) with brown gluten free toast. I knew the bread was gluten free because it was so small! But thats the way I like it, I don’t like to feel unsure about whether what I’m eating is gluten free. In the evening we decided to eat in the caravan, we went to the Co-op next to where we stayed in Shanklin, and I bought a mushroom risotto ready meal and some gluten free ciabatta. Easy peasy!

For breakfasts I bought some yoghurts and had some Udi’s cinnamon and raisin bagels that I had brought with me.

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The next day we went to the Garlic Farm in the morning, which was amazing! I bought from the shop some smoked garlic butter and some garlic barbeque sauce which stated gluten free on the back. On our way to the Needles in the afternoon we stopped in Freshwater to go to The Apple Farm, but this is apparently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! So we headed to Chessell Pottery instead and I ordered this gluten free cream ‘tea’ (with coffee). Very sweet and filling but that’s what you expect! Yum.

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In the evening we went to the Crab Inn at Shanklin which have a menu showing what is gluten free. Unfortunately I was planning to have a jacket potato but when we got there I found they only served them until 5pm. Luckily they had a smoky bean chilli too so I went for that and it was lovely. There was a large group in front of us in the queue and only one person taking orders, and they had also run out of scampi, so we felt a little underwhelmed, but we all agreed the food was actually very nice.

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We decided the next day to go on an easy 12 mile bike ride… well it said it was easy, but none of us cycle so we found it pretty difficult and hurt for a few days but I’m glad I did it, and after we took the bikes back to the hire place in Sandown we went to Flanagan’s restaurant by the esplanade. They didn’t say on their menu what was gluten free, but I went for the omelette and chips. I didn’t check about the chips (lazy coeliac) but they seemed fine and I ate them because I was so hungry and haven’t felt any ill effects. You may think you spot a bit of ham there in the omelette… yes they added ham which I didn’t ask for, but I was again too hungry to send it back so I picked it all out!

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Our trip to Ventnor after a morning thunder storm, and the sun came out just while we were on the beach- perfect! Went in to Tilly’s cafe who served gluten free rolls, which turned out to be these ones by dietary specials I believe. I went for cheese and egg. It was quite small but this was OK as we were going for an early dinner at Pizza Hut before going to see an encore of the National Theatre Live ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, which was very good by the way! At Pizza Hut I went for the veggie pizza with bbq sauce instead of tomato!

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On our last day we went to Ryde, and ate at the King Lud. This was my favourite place of the trip, and maybe even ever just for it’s interesting gluten free options, it even advertised it on the board and all the staff were very helpful, even telling me how they could adapt the specials, such as the battered halloumi (I need this in my life but just wanted a quiche!) I had a stilton and asparagus quiche made by Twins, which was lovely, but full of tomato which wasn’t written in the description so maybe not great for someone who doesn’t like tomatoes. My food came out with different chips to my friends, which were thicker, but I really liked mine and it was reassuring to see that they think of everything when it comes to their free from menu.
IMG_0157 IMG_0164All in all, I feel very well fed, the list from facebook was a godsend, and it has given me faith that holidaying as a gluten free vegetarian isn’t so hopeless!

Pizza Express’ Gluten Free Menu

Pizza Express was one of those restaurants that had no gluten free options. So it is great they they have developed their new Gluten Free menu. Pizza Express seems to have done this the right way. They brought in people to advise and test their ideas. They not only bought in a gf pizza base but also a starter and desert option as well as a gluten free beer. They are the only chain that I have heard them advertising it widely including on their website, social media and radio adverts when it first came out! The staff have all seemed very clued up about it when I have spoken to them, and they bring the pizza over on a different board, uncut, and state that is is gluten free pizza. The pizzas are thin and crispy and tasty! Overall I have really enjoyed it.

I have also tried a non-pizza gf item on their menu, the Melanzane Parmigiana. This is a type of aubergine lasagna with no pasta, and topped with gluten free breadcrumbs.

Melanzane Parmigiana

I have also tried the chocolate brownie desert, it’s small because it comes with a coffee, even if you don’t want a coffee!! But I do actually enjoy coffee with cake, and a nice bit of strawberry too, so I enjoyed it.

Frankie and Benny’s Gluten Free Menu

I used to really struggle at Frankie and Benny’s, the only option seemed to be a steak with a jacket potato. My friends all love it there though so I was so pleased when they recently launched their Gluten Free menu. The first thing I noticed about it was the amount of choice it had. 4 starters, 10 main courses and 4 deserts. And not only that but it had vegetarian options too which is something that I think is lacking elsewhere! When I visited the other day I first looked at the ordinary menu as I had already looked at the gluten free menu online, interestingly though some of the things on the GF menu are not available on their general menu. I asked for the gluten free menu which was found immediately at the front desk and bought over. I didn’t think I could handle 3 courses so I ordered an omelette with jacket potato and decided to leave room for desert!

I really love omelette, but the other options all look nice too. Trying to eat less meat, the options were omelette, which had peppers, onion, mushroom and three cheeses, or a goats cheese and Mediterranean vegetable risotto which I hope to try next time! The omelette was lovely, it came slightly after everyone else’s food and they explained this is because they used all new pans and utensils, and it was not very long to wait just a minute or two. The jacket potato I was worried about because they can be quite hard and they never seem to give you butter, but this potato was lovely, soft and had butter in it, with a little bit of cheese on the salad.

Omelette

For desert I went for the fruit dippers, this was also not on the normal menu and a friend of mine actually went for this option too because she saw it on my menu. I did enjoy it especially the banana and strawberries and the chocolate fudge dip. I ate a bit of pineapple but it really hurts my mouth so I didn’t have much. I was quite full so it was a nice light desert to have!

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Overall I really enjoyed it, the food was lovely, the staff helpful and it didn’t feel like any trouble at all.

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Gluten Free Menu

Having heard about GBK’s new gluten free bun I couldn’t wait to try it, I haven’t had a proper burger for years! So me and my friends went to the Bluewater GBK, as we arrived and asked for a table I asked our waiter if he has a gluten free menu. Not only did he know what it was straight away but he took one from the pile next to the normal menus, no going to the back office to find the one menu!

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I went for the Halloumi Bites, and the Avocado Bacon Beef Burger with a corn on the cob. The chips are currently not gluten free as they are cooked in the same oil as onion rings. The Halloumi bites were lovely (I forgot to take a picture) with a spicy kiwi dip, which was interesting and really nice but a bit too spicy for me to have much. You can choose how the burger is cooked, I went for well done.

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I honestly really enjoyed it, the bun was nice. It looks different than the gluten buns which is good and makes me feel at ease. It did break up a bit but it didn’t fall apart and didn’t bother me, the whole burger was pretty messy to eat either way! The avocado and bacon were both really nice and the burger was cooked just how I like it, the corn was lovely too. I didn’t miss the chips, I was so full up after the burger. My friends all had their skinny chips which were very skinny and weren’t that impressed so I didn’t feel I was missing out.

The price was good, the service was quick and I believe they do take away too.

I will be going back and trying more ‘flavours’. It’s great to have so much choice, even though they are all burgers! I loved it.

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Maxwell’s Covent Garden

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I went for lunch on Sunday at Maxwell’s in Covent Garden, London.

On their Sunday menu you can get two courses for about £14.50, there is a three course option but none of the deserts on that menu are gluten free.

I emailed them before I went and received a quick reply about being able to eat most things apart from the obvious (breads) and no relish or bbq sauce. They also provide a gluten free bun for burgers or sandwiches and tortillas for fajitas. When we were seated I mentioned it to my waitress too who immediately told me the same information without having to go and ask anyone!

I went for the potato skins with cheese and bacon to start, and a cajun chicken sandwich for my main, with the gluten free bun. She was very helpful and reiterated it was gluten free when she bought it over. Two others at my table had made the same choice, and they were given it as ‘cajun chicken with regular bun’ and I could see that it was different as mine had sesame seeds.

Overall it was a really good meal and I was too full for desert anyway! If I went to have the regular menu I might try the vegetable fajitas.

Also I recommend going on a Sunday as their cocktails are £4.50 all day (may not seem that cheap but they are usually £7!) I had a Cosmopolitan and it was very nice, quite strong!

Pizza Hut- The Return

ImageSo as you can tell from my previous post, I was less than impressed with Pizza Hut. The general gist was that I went into my local Pizza Hut and they told me that they didn’t do the square GF base because they have a small menu. I was told by the head office that it was because they work off the delivery menu- strange as I had successfully ordered a GF pizza from them before for collection (back in the day when they didn’t deliver those bases and couldn’t explain to me why!)

Anyway, my friends love Pizza Hut and the other day they were getting a take away so I decided to try again and guess what?! They delivered me a GF pizza! They have it on their online delivery menu, which they always did, which is what I tried to tell them! So frustrating.

Anyway, I went for a Texan BBQ Chicken. It says on their website that all toppings are gluten free including the barbecue sauce, but NOT their barbecue dip! It was very tasty and very greasy but nice! I have also tried their Chicken Supreme and Vegetable Supreme and they are very nice. I just think they need to sort themselves out a bit!