Restaurant

Be my gluten-free Valentine?

There are many gluten-free alternatives to most things these days. But bread, my friends, is always a huge disaster.

I’m very well acquainted with the dry, foamy impostors. In fact I have become so used to them, that on a recent date with the BF at newish Paleo restaurant ‘Pure Taste’ on Westbourne Grove I wasn’t at all excited by the gluten-free Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia bread that arrived with a creamy avocado butter on the side. But then I tasted it..

Warm, freshly baked and completely delicious, I was hooked on Pure Taste from the word bread.

Pure Taste, London - coconut bread

Then they brought out salmon canapes on spoons…

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And silky Jerusalem artichoke soup with hazelnut and truffle…

Pure Taste, London

And scallops with apple and parsnip puree… so I was even more hooked.

Pure Taste, London

This was all swiftly followed by halibut with spinach, lemon and a generous handful of crunchy dukkah.

Pure Taste, London

And last but not least, guinea fowl with cavolo nero, maderia, prunes and their own ‘bread sauce’.

Pure Taste, London

If you live with intolerances and allergies or a restricted diet, this is the kind of restaurant you have been waiting for.

Pure Taste
115 Westbourne Grove
London, W2 4UP

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Brunchin’ at Bills

Walking into any of the Bills restaurants is like rocking up at an old friend’s house on a Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere is always buzzing yet relaxed and everyone is so very welcoming – even at 7am, when they open for breakfast on week days. There aren’t many places this good open that early during the week, so Bills is ideal for a catch up with friends before work or a lazy meal here any other time! The menu is gluten-free friendly too, so you can enjoy smoked salmon and poached eggs on toast. Full allergen advice can be found here.

Take a friend, take your date, take your dog – Bills could be your new favourite local. (And don’t forget to try the sweet potato chips)…

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Bills Restaurant
Kensington Arcade,
125 Kensington High Street,
London
W8 5SF

Banana Tree

I’ve always walked past Banana Tree without giving it much of a second glace. But a friend suggested eating there as their menu accomodates many food intolerances. Although noisy inside, Banana Tree really does cater for all sorts, including gluten-free, wheat-free, nut-free and dairy-free options. I had the Bun Bo Meaty Salad Bowl, which was filling but also refreshing thanks to spiralized cucumber, rice noodles and fresh chilli.

Banana Tree is a great place to go with a large group of friends. Don’t expect brilliant service, but you can certainly expect a satisfying and well-priced gluten-free meal in the heart of Soho.

Banana Kitchen - Soho

Banana Tree
103-109 Wardour Street,
London
W1F 0UQ

Tanya’s Cafe Chelsea

Vegan? Gluten free? Organic? Tanya’s Cafe ticks very health box. In fact, everything that comes out of Tanya’s kitchen is completely raw and full of nutrients.

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A place for yoga bunnies to meet up post work out and nibble on seriously delicious and raw food, there’s a bit of hype around Tanya’s at the moment. And rightly so. The food is amazing! It’s not cheap – but it really is worth the price tag.

Raw Tacos at Tanyas Cafe Chelsea

We ordered the tacos, which were the tastiest tacos I’ve ever eaten. Guacamole, portobello mushroom ‘meat’ and salsa in a dehydrated taco.

This was followed by crunchy munchy cheesy kale chips and avocado with super-seed mix.

Tanyas 4

We skipped out of Tanya’s, satisfyingly full and glowing with raw-ness.

Tanya’s Cafe
35 Ixworth Place,
London
SW3 3QX

Irati Taverna Basca, Barcelona

From my experience, the best places to eat are hidden away from tourists and rammed with locals. So I was very surprised to discover that the restaurant which had been recommended to me in Barcelona was not hidden away from tourists. In fact, it was merely a stone’s throw from the flashing lights and flower sellers of La Rambla.

irati

Irati was however filled with locals at the bar, munching on the delicious looking tapas. We were starving and annoyingly they wouldnt let us have any tapas if we were eating in the restaurant. It’s tapas or restaurant. Confusing!

Anyway, we took our seats at the back and ordered a bottle of Rioja. Perhaps they saw the disappointed look on my face when they told me I couldn’t have tapas, as they brought over some stuffed olives wrapped in sardines – a very salty but tasty local snack. For starters we ordered: Homemade foie gras “mi-cuit” and Fried “txistorra” from Orio (mini chorizo sausages that were amazinggggg). The staff were also very helpful and quick to provide wheat-free bread to go with the foie gras.

For mains we had: Grilled aged beef tenderloin with artichokes, and Galician aged steak tartare. It was all delicious but  a bit of a meat feast! Perhaps you feel lighter and better by just eating the tapas, but it was lovely to have a table here. 7/10

Irati Taverna Basca,
Cardenal Casanas,
17
08002 Barcelona

Spain

+34 933 42 54 11

Julie’s Restaurant & Champagne Bar

This year I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday at Julie’s Restaurant & Champagne Bar. Nestled away behind Portland Road and a short walk from Holland Park tube station, the restaurant is somewhat of an institution in the area and has been open since 1969.

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Set over two floors, Julie’s has the most wonderful atmosphere. Ottoman furniture, fairy lights, antiques and treasure chests all contribute to the decor, with windy staircases and tapestry curtains revealing secret party rooms. I chose the Garden Room as it had the best lighting and was the right size for a party of between 24 and 34. Throughout the planning process, the staff at Julie’s were absolutely amazing and very helpful – down to the finest details. After a prosecco reception in the Moroccan Room, our menu (£25 for two courses) was as follows:

Soup of the day
Fried calamari with garlic and caper mayonnaise
Potted duck and chicken liver pâté with cornichons and chillies
Chicory, walnuts and Roquefort salad with croutons and herb dressing
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Julie’s fish pie with whiting, prawns, scallops, mussels, spinach and cream sauce
Julie’s steak and kidney pie braised in honeydew ale
Crispy skin chicken breast with black truffles, French beans and white Port sauce
Filled potato gnocchi with dolcelatte, walnuts and black truffles
All served with fresh vegetables
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Summer fruit Eton mess
Dark chocolate parfait with berries
Pineapple and mint salad with orange sorbet
English and French cheese with tomato and sweet chilli jam and oat biscuits

The lovely staff produced a gluten-free menu for me at the last minute, so I had delicious tuna sashimi as a starter, followed by the chicken in a truffle and port sauce. The food was heavenly and the service was seamless. I really can’t fault the restaurant one bit, and I’m really looking forward to my next visit. Thank you Julie’s!

P.S: My leopard-print handbag was a present, designed and handmade by my very talented friend Lara Lindsay. Click here to visit her website.

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Julie’s Restaurant and Champagne Bar
135 Portland Road
London
W11 4LW

0207 229 8331

Dirty Bones

dirty bones

All the best places should be found without Google. It’s much more fun to stumble across a gem of a new hangout spot – which is exactly what happened when I chanced upon Dirty Bones on Monday night while walking down Kensington Church Street. Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in by the large neon signs and a menu only listing ‘HOT DOGS… FRIES… POP’. Oh and the sign that read: “High fives and Good Vibez”… (who doesn’t like those things?!)

Downstairs, there’s a warmly lit speakeasy vibe and we were greeted by a hostess at a vintage pinball machine who seated us on some very squishy leather armchairs. Unfortunately I’d just eaten so had no room to sample the hot dog, ribs and wing-fuelled menu but it looked… filling! Hot dogs smothered in caramelised onions with BEER cheddar, treacle bacon, curried gherkins and english mustard. Perhaps not the best place to take a first date, and certainly not if your first date is a vegetarian. And the dessert menu includes ‘Milk & Cookies’, next to ‘Coffee & Doughnut’… not sure about those options myself.

high fivesAnyway, we stuck to the drinks menu and had a lovely time. I won’t rush back to try the food but I’m sure it’s ideal when you’ve had a few too many dog-themed cocktails. ‘Mutt’s Nuts’, ‘Top Dog’, ‘Down Boy’ and ‘101 Dalmations’ to name a few. Expect: Hot dogs, triple cooked chips, ambient lighting, loud music and cocktails in nice glasses. 6.5/10

20 Kensington Church Street
London, W8 4EP
0207 920 6434
Say hi: 
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Patty & Bun

photo 2“Burger lovers rejoice! Joe Grossman (the unstoppable force behind the juciest burgers in London) has opened a second restaurant.”

Sitting across the road from McDonalds on Liverpool Street, Joe isn’t afraid to show them who’s boss. The new location might come as a surprise to many Soho-thrill-seekers, but Patty & Bun is exactly what the area needs to break up the homogeneity of sandwich and sushi places.

Expect: banging burgers, rosemary chips, crunchy spicy slaw, and a soundtrack to make you forget you’re in London, at lunch time… and you have to go back to work. 8/10

Patty & Bun, 22/23 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7PD

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The Shed

“Notting Hill, despite its central location, is a dead zone for good restaurants. Well at least it was until The Shed opened its charming blue doors in October 2012.”

Goats cheese and honeySet up by Oliver and Richard Gladywn, the concept for The Shed is simple: locally sourced sustainable produce with little waste. They put together a daily-changing menu of delicious tapas-style sharing plates photowith many of the ingredients hailing from their family farm in Nutbourne, West Sussex.

The menu can be a little confusing on your first visit. ‘How big are the ‘Mouthfuls?’ ‘How many dishes should we order?’ Luckily the friendly lumberjack-shirt-wearing staff are always eager to talk you through every plate on the menu. I would recommend 3-4 dishes each if you’re not too hungry but 5 will fill you nicely if you’re ravenous!photo 2

Favourites on the current menu: Chorizo, labneh, crisp bread and kale (£8), Lamb chips with harissa (£7.5), Wood pigeon with port (£9), Veal ragu and tagliatelle (£8.5), Pan fried goats cheese (£6.5), Spatchcock quail (£8.5). The desserts are excellent if you have room.

The Shed is a truly special place taking British produce and London dining in an exciting direction. Book ahead to avoid disappointment. 8/10

The Shed Restaurant
122 Palace Gardens Terrace,
London, W8 4RT

Call: 0207 229 4024
Tweet: 
@theshed_resto
Email: info@theshed-restaurant.com

The Sir Charles Napier

photophotophoto“This is not just any pub, but an award-winning foodie heaven in a magical setting.”

The Sir Charles Napier was so good that I had to start a food blog so I could write about it! This Michelin-starred gastropub in Oxfordshire had been on my list for a while, but my visit with my family last weekend did not disappoint.

Entering the cosy pub with its exposed beams and crackling fires on the sunniest day of the year so far, made me very proud to be English! The eclectic mix of furniture, distressed walls, bunches of wild flowers and smooth sculptures by Michael Cooper added to the warmth of the place. I felt so at home, I wanted to move in.

The menu is immediately enticing, each option more descriptive and exciting than the next. For starters we chose: Rabbit rilletes with pickles and focaccia, Warm pigeon salad with blood orange, betroot and feta, Smoked haddock cheddar risotto with crispy quail egg and Seared foie gras with duck confit on toast and rhubarb. All were delicious, but the foie gras was the clear winner for me, with a delicate balance of flavours, well placed dots of rhubarb compote and two pieces of popcorn(?!) for decoration. “I love this place” we kept saying before we’d even finished our starters… “when are we next coming back?”photo[1]

For mains, my sister and I both had the Monkfish with braised oxtail, jerusalem artichoke and russian kale. I’m always slightly disappointed by monkfish, and for £25.50 this dish could have had more flavour. The monkfish dish was easily overshadowed by the outstanding gnocchi with rainbow chard (fresh from the garden), butternut squash and rocket. The Cornish pollock with mussel chowder and caviare was tasty but I was more amazed by how the vegetables had been so finely and equally diced than by the food itself. Of all the mains, the best was the perfectly cooked Goosenagh duck breast with carrot, cumin, blood orange and endive marmalade. This is not just any pub, but an award-winning foodie heaven in a magical setting. 9/10

cropsircharles

 

The Sir Charles Napier,
Sprigg’s Alley, Chinnor,
Oxon,
OX39 4BX

01494 483 011

info@sircharlesnapier.com