We’re gluten-free! But only on Wednesday evenings

16 Apr

I have had a battle with my health my whole life- nobody knows why or can seem to get to the bottom of it, but the battle still rages. The result of which is that I have had to adopt a gluten-free diet. Now this is not straight-forward in itself- just think of all the things you eat every day….now some of them obviously have wheat in- like bread and cakes. But there are many, many more food items out there with ‘hidden’ wheat/ gluten in them- practically everything seems ‘contaminated’ these days; sauces, seasonings, drinks.

Now combine being gluten-free with trying to eat out and it becomes a nigh-on impossible task. Many restaurants have not heard of coeliac disease or other people needing to be on a gluten-free diet. I have discovered there is a growing population who have heard of it and even claim to offer a gluten-free menu. But my recent attempts to eat out whilst on holiday, have proved that this is very much hit and miss. I believe that everyone should be able to have the choice to eat out when they want to, to have a choice of dishes and not go hungry. Yeah right, reality bites…

I usually start out by doing an internet search for information, but this is not always reliable- as I discovered! We were stopping at Brighton on the way down, it would be lovely not to have to take a packed lunch with cardboard sandwiches I thought. Online recommendations were Iydea http://www.iydea.co.uk/Iydea_Vegetarian_Restaurant/Menu.html and Infinity Foods Cafe http://www.infinityfoodscafe.co.uk/menu/hot_stuff/Both of which claim to cater for those on a gluten-free diet. Their menus looked delicious and unusual and I was really excited about being able to eat out and have a choice! Imagine my disappointment when arriving at Iydea to find that all I could have were salads, potatoes and a field mushroom dish. I expected gluten-free versions of the quiches and pasta, plus it was too full to even obtain a seat. So, we went onto Infinity Foods Cafe. Their website also made it sound like they catered for gluten-free, so I asked for a g/f sandwich…only to be told that we can’t make you one of those the bread is too small! Uh hello, welcome to my world- gluten is the part of the wheat grain that stretches to catch the air bubbles produced by the yeast- of course it’s not going to rise like normal bread! So, in actual fact- my only menu options were a salad or a jacket potato- oh HOW original. So I had a very average and completely disappointing meal. I think restaurants like these should be banned from saying they cater for gluten-free when all they are offering are the standard foods that contain no gluten anyway! I’ve lost count of how many others do this- Prezzo, Wetherspoons- to name a couple of the top of my head. How many of us want to go out and pay for a salad or a jacket potato?!

I was much more hopeful for our stop on the way home- The Rose and Crown Tavern in Worthing http://www.theroseandcrownworthing.com/ You can see from the banner on their homepage that they’re making a BIG thing of having a gluten-free menu. Take a look at their menu- real options…pies, fish and chips- all the selection that’s offered on a ‘normal’ menu! So I was very disappointed to be told on arrival and asking for the g/f menu- oh, that’s only on Wednesday evenings. Great! (I mean- doesn’t their website make that abundantly clear? I think not!) Cos I get to choose which days/ times of the week I need to eat g/f!!! (That’s what I wish I’d said to the waitress). However, being g/f herself she did understand and went off to the kitchen to see what could be rustled up. I got to choose between a lasagne, roast dinner or chicken and mushroom pie- which is far better than most offerings. I chose the pie and it was delicious- much more than I could finish. But I could have done without the added stress of being in the middle of an unknown town and potentially going hungry! I still think they are guilty of false advertising on their website.

Contrast this with The Bear Cross, near Kinson in Dorset. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have a website of their own to link to, but you can see the reviews for yourself with a quick search. They offer a complete and varied gluten-free menu every day at all times- you just have to ask for it. My only comments to them would be- that they should advertise the fact that they cater for g/f- (I only found out through a family friend who is a coeliac. She informs me that they have extensive knowledge as the chef is a coeliac)- and make the menu available of every table (which would also help raise awareness). And, they could change the menu/ have specials like the main menu- as I go there a few times a year and it gets a bit repetitive.

I have also had a really positive experience eating at Wagamama’s in Bournemouth and they really know how to cater for g/f. I had the itame dish.

So, to the restaurant world- I’m waiting for you to catch up! I can cook up fantastic g/f versions of most dishes- it’s not hard (Maybe I’ll share some in future posts). I’m waiting to see equality for those on special diets for health reasons. Gluten-free 24/7 please!

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