Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)

IMG_9028SO, here it is – my run-down of our top allergy friendly meals out in 2014. A bit late, but timely in the aftermath of the ‘100 chefs rant against EU allergy laws’ thing. I’ve been tweeting my thoughts on this for a week, and am frankly bored of the moaning. Compelling caterers to declare which allergens are in their dishes doesn’t make anywhere more able, or likely, to cater for us, but it’s a first step on the road to greater understanding. It means that at least we have the right to ask, and to be told. I think that’s fair enough.

Anyway, enough about that. From never having the confidence to allow anyone bar family to cook for Sidney, in this past year we’ve managed to find a clutch of places happy, willing and able to cater for his multiple allergies. They are living proof that it is possible and, for that, I love them longtime.

So, in no particular order, here we go: Continue reading “Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)”

Advertisements

Pizza Express – could it be…?

UnknownBIG excitement among Coeliacs in recent months over the new Pizza Express gluten free pizzas, and rightly so. But so far I’ve held fire.

The company is among the best in providing allergen information on its website but, somewhat oddly, while it mentions garlic and mushrooms among them, sesame and lupin – two of the top 14 under EU guidance – are not listed. For obvious reasons Sid’s (relatively rare) allergies to chickpea, lentil and green pea are also not on the list. So I wanted to find out for sure the full list of ingredients in this new gluten free base, not least because chickpea flour, lupin, psyllium husk and all sorts pop up in many non gluten offerings. Continue reading “Pizza Express – could it be…?”

Allergy-Friendly Eatery: Lyttelton Cafe, National Theatre, Southbank

English: London
National Theatre (image: Wikipedia)

Not exactly a resounding clap on the back but a reserved ‘yay’ for this little cafe and espresso bar on the ground floor of the National Theatre.

Ask and you shall receive a full ingredients list for all the baked goods on offer. Chocolate ginger tiffin, for instance, is egg free, I found this weekend. But if you have nut issues it’s still a way off being safe – all cakes ‘may have traces of nuts’, the friendly lass behind the counter confirmed, ruefully.

One day, maybe, these places will get the whole cross-contamination thing sorted. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Lyttelton Cafe & Espresso Bar, Ground Floor, National Theatre, Southbank, London SE1 9PX, nationaltheatre.org.uk

Allergy-Friendly Eatery: The Grove Cafe, Alexandra Palace

Stumbled across the sweetest independent outdoor caff near Ally Pally during a wintry amble this afternoon. And the people there could show your cafe chains more than a thing or two about allergy-friendly provision. About friendly, full-stop, come to think of it.

The Italian-run Grove Cafe sits on the slope of a grassy hill in The Grove bit of Alexandra Park, looking out over trees and rooftops. It’s a tiny, slightly ramshackle building that, on a freezing day like today, has the cosy air of a chalet with its wood panelling, patio heaters and blankets tucked on chairs. Italian and Spanish ballads pipe from outdoor speakers and brightly coloured jars of straws, faded photos of Sofia Loren and other odds and ends jostle against the windows and plaster the doors.

The chalkboard menu offers everything a family-friendly cafe should: toasted sandwiches, pasta dishes, ice creams, soups and jackets. And when asked how the potatoes are cooked, given our allergic Sidney, the man couldn’t have been more helpful.

Not only are the spuds baked in nothing but their skins but, on request, the cafe serves up gluten free bread and wheat free pasta and the guy (who I guess must be the Ciro mentioned here; I really should have asked his name) said he’d be perfectly happy to heat up anything we might bring ourselves for Sid. How lovely is that?

There’s a football behind the counter for kids to kick about on the grass outside…

…and our straightfaced tot finally cracked a smile after being treated to a ditty about Naples and given a little red car to tinker with while we drank our tea. When we attempted to wrestle it from his grip as we left, prompting melodramatic tears, the chap said we could keep it and bring it back next time. Which we will, very soon.

Grove Cafe, The Grove, Alexandra Park, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7BA