Category Archives: Gluten Free

Hixter Bankside

I’m a big fan of Hix in Soho, which is probably why Mark Hix just opened up a whole new Hix right next to my office. For those of you that don’t stalk me regularly, that’s near Borough Market (London Bridge). It’s called Hixter though, not Hix.


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The restaurant has only just opened – it’s housed within an old metal box factory, and it’s a bit of a tardis, as it happens. Walk through a huge bar and there’s a big, light restaurant where you can see the chefs bustling about. There’s also, of course, much fancy looking artwork (Hix’s other restaurants include pieces by masters like Damian Hirst).


The idea is simple: it’s chicken or steak to share.


You can order bits of meat in various sizes, all sourced with perfect precision from (mostly) Great British producers. There’s mighty-marbled Himalayan salt dry-aged steak from hand-selected cows and barn-reared chicken from Swainson House Farm in Lancashire.


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There is also another Mark’s Bar in the basement, but it’s much bigger than the Soho version. This one’s even got table football and a tiny tube carriage you can get drunk in! There’s a market for that now, what with actual drinking on the tube being banned in a terrible oversight a few years ago.


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The restaurant currently does a lunch menu for a perfectly reasonable £9.95, with quite a big selection of dishes (sandwiches, burgers, salads etc.)


We tried a few of the sandwiches – the Cock ‘n’ Bull – that’s a half chicken, half steak sandwich, the Swainson Farm chicken sandwich and a chicken, Sillfield Farm bacon and summer vegetable salad. All came accompanied with more chips than four people could possibly eat, which is never a bad thing.


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The food was, on the whole, a little underwhelming. The sandwiches were cold (we didn’t think they were supposed to be) and the chicken in the salad was a bit dry, but on the whole it wasn’t bad. If Hix’s other restaurants are anything to go by I’m sure things will improve…


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Gluten Free? Yes – quite a few options.


Hixter Bankside
16 Great Guildford Street,



Hixter Bankside on Urbanspoon

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Gluten Free Cake Delivery!

Bespoke cake specialists Bakerdays know that no special occasion is complete without cake – a sentiment I’m sure you’ll agree with. But all too often gluten free folk are left out of the great ceremony of the cake… and that’s got to change.


Thankfully Bakerdays are leading the way – they now do gluten free cakes which can be fully customised according to your most obscure gluten free wishes. They do One Direction cakes too…


You can get little ones sent through the post, and they even fit through your letterbox, so you can prance about with a big old smile on your face all day knowing that CAKE awaits when you get home.

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Here’s a Bakerdays gluten free cake specially designed for grumps; it’s a beautiful thing. And it’s not just beautiful – it actually tastes great too. Not dry, not crumbly, in fact its all things a good cake should be. And it comes with oodles of icing and jam!

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All Bakerdays letterbox cakes come with candles and balloons, and they taste a whole lot better than a birthday card. If you want something a bit bigger though Bakerdays offer a huge range of sizes – serving up to SIXTY people. Or a few very greedy ones.

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Order before 2pm to get your cake the very next day. A gluten free letterbox cake will set you back £17.99. Dairy free cakes are available too.


Cakes by post. It’s the future.

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Bakerdays website:

Le Deuxieme, Covent Garden

A strangely calm European brasserie in the middle of Covent Garden, Le Deuxieme is one of the smarter restaurants in the area. A sort of pushing the boat out type of place, you know. For special occasions. And pay days. And theatre trips.


The dining room is understated. Bijou. White. Not all white everything, but mostly. Each table has a tiny plant too, so you know that this is a fancy kind of place. No one is under any illusions. Plants = fancy.




The menu isn’t quite as French as the name initially suggests, although there are of course snails with lashings of garlic butter available, if you’re so inclined. (The wine list is very French-biased, though).




To start we chose the Scallops with Cauliflower Puree and Chorizo (£8.50). The scallops were excellent – perfectly cooked and great with the Cauliflower Puree and Chorizo… but is £8.50 a bit expensive for two scallops and two slices of chorizo? I think it may be…




Our other choice was a Warm Salad of Smoked Bacon, Black Pudding and Potato with a Soft Boiled Egg (£8.50)The warm salad was an odd one, kind of a fry up in salad form, something for the furiously unhealthy salad-eater. Strangely tasty, but a little greasy.




A main course of Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Courgette Tempura, Pineapple and Mango Salsa (£17.50) was chosen mostly because it sounded completely different to anything else on the menu, and it was quite an unusual thing, really. It scores points for presentation – pretty isn’t it?




The Pineapple and Mango Salsa tasted like summer, if summer had tiny bits of chilli floating about in it. The dish was let down slightly by tempura that didn’t quite have the required crunch, though.


Boy opted for Roasted Rump of Lamb with Gratin Dauphinois, Mint and Port Jus (£19.50), and was presented with a huge serving of perfectly cooked melt-in-the-mouth lamb and perfect Dauphinois. It didn’t taste at ALL like summer, but I’ll be honest, I was a bit jealous of this one.




The service (from our waiter) was faultless on our visit, although I have heard a few grumbles about surly staff when dining later in the evening (particularly post-theatre dining). However there was something a little troubling about the place, service-wise, and that, I’m afraid to say, was down to the scruffy chap I presumed to be the manager.


Although the restaurant was half empty, this silver haired monsieur insisted on standing bizarrely close to our table and staring at us for much of the meal. Off-putting, to say the least. Perhaps he thought we were attempting some kind of upmarket dine and run. A great injustice! I was far too full to run, anyway.


Tip: Try it out for a fraction of the cost with the fixed price menu, £14.50/16.50 for two/three courses. Le Deuxieme is also suitable for pre and post theatre dining.


The Verdict: Although pricey (really very pricey) the food at Le Deuxieme is fantastic, and the location is good. It was all let down slightly by the manager, though. Please would someone tell him it’s rude to stare.






Le Deuxieme on Urbanspoon

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Recipe: Peanut Crunch Superfood Salad

I love peanut butter in a psychotic, terrifying kind of way. I’m one of those people that could just dive head first into a jar of a Monday evening and merrily while away a few hours swimming about in it. So when the idea of eating something that tastes even slightly like peanut butter and may also be a tiny bit healthy came to me, I just had to share it. 


This crunchy, tangy salad is inspired by Thai flavours and goes perfectly with a nice cold glass of New Zealand Sauvignon – see full details of my preferred choice, Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc, at the foot of the recipe, or find out more about wine pairings here.




Peanut Crunch Superfood Salad

Serves 4

Time: 25 minutes


For The Dressing:

  1. 1/4 cup good peanut butter – smooth and crunchy are both fine
  2. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons water
  4. All the lime juice you can get out of one lime if you squeeze really hard
  5. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  6. 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten free if possible)
  7. 2 tablespoons runny honey
  8. 1/4 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. 2 garlic cloves
  11. 1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled
  12. Fresh coriander – to taste



For The Salad:

  1. Leaves of your choice. I used a bag of ready mixed beetroot salad from Waitrose, because I’m terribly lazy, but by all means pick your own lettuce, cabbage, rocket etc!
  2. 3 Carrots – use your peeler to make them into thin ribbons
  3. 1 Cucumber
  4. 2 Spring Onions (you can also get ready prepared ones to make it extra quick!)
  5. More fresh coriander
  6. Handful of peanuts




You could also add:

Meat! Chicken, Tofu, Prawns or any seafood you fancy. Just season and grill it before you’re ready to serve.



1. Roughly chop your garlic and ginger.




2. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in the most powerful blender you can get your hands on.






4. The dressing can be made ahead of time – so refrigerate it until you need it if you’re not using straight away.




5. Chop your salad items into any shape you wish. If you want the salad extra crunchy scoop the seeds out of your cucumber, too.




6. Stick your preferred meat item on the grill, or oven bake. I grilled a chicken breast on this amazing invention called the Optigrill – you just press the chicken button and wait for a beep!




7. Present the salad beautifully on your plates, then top with meat, sprinkle lovingly with peanuts and a drizzle of the dressing.




8. Pour yourself a large glass of Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc, sit back and… enjoy!



Pair It With:

Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand




Made by the highly regarded winemaker Simon Waghorn, this New Zealand Sauvignon would go perfectly well with many a seafood dish, but this time I was looking for a more unusual pairing – and that’s how the Thai salad idea came about.

I was inspired by a recent trip to Peter Gordon’s Kopapa, where New Zealand wines hold their own against a big, bold menu of fusion dishes, many of which have Asian influences.

This, like most Sauvignons, is an assertive wine, with intense nettle, lime and basil flavours, passion fruit scents and concentrated rich exotic guava and passion fruit flavours.  It’s the perfect match for the big flavours of this salad – rich and tangy with a bit of kick!


Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand is exclusive to Waitrose. You can get yourself a bottle by clicking right here, or view the full Waitrose Cellar selection here.

Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand is also available as part of the ‘Ultimate Cellar Wine Case’ – perfect if you’re after a tasting tour. The case includes a hand-picked selection of wines, chosen from 1,200 bottles by Waitrose’s wine buyers. 

The Rum Kitchen, Soho

Located in Carnaby Street’s shiny Kingly Court, this is the second Rum Kitchen in London town. The first one’s been open for a year or so and has already attracted His Royal Highness of Wonderment Mr Prince Harry.




Less a restaurant, more a beach shack bar that screams unashamedly of its love for rum and sunshine, this place is all about fun, food and good times.


rum kitchen


The bright brains behind the Rum Kitchen have brought the Bahamas to the city, with blue and white pastel beach hut planks, random patches of sun-faded corrugated metal and odd little trinkets that *might* have been picked up on the beach. The music’s great too, it’s like a party… with dinner.




The cocktail menu is a hefty book of a thing, filled with some of the loveliest cocktails in town, most of which are under a tenner. Definitely try the Grog, a deadly concoction of lime, ginger beer and plenty of rum. Served in a little enamel mug this one’s guaranteed to bring out the Jack Sparrow in you. Whether or not that’ll be a good thing, though, remains to be seen.


rum kitchen




Whilst it’s not technically Caribbean, the Rum Kitchen’s Mojito is one of the best I’ve ever had – and I suppose that’s down to the quality of the rum. It’s so good it’s likely to turn your brain into marshmallow and leave you a slurring, stuttering mess before the night’s out.


rum kitchen mojito


Want something more authentic? Mama’s Guinness Punch should do the trick – over-proof rum, condensed milk and Guinness mixed with spices, chocolate bitters and served over ice.





The menu is a sort of Anglicised take on Caribbean classics – apparently London palates can’t handle the real deal. But before you get all outraged and angry about this try the ‘toned-down’ swamp sauce. I did, and immediately accepted my palate’s fate as an absolute wuss. This bottle of scotch bonnet LAVA lulls you into a false sense of security, looking just like our good friend Mr Ketchup. But don’t trust it. A tiny dab onto my tongue and I lost all sensation for the duration of the evening. A whole mouthful could likely kill a man.


rum kitchen sauces


Anyway, warning over and done with, we’ll move onto the food. We tried the shack’s signature Jerk Chicken Thighs (£8.50) – crispy, crunchy and moist with a bit of bite… but not too much bite! Served with extra jerk sauce for those braver than me, and pineapple slaw, which is like cole slaw but more exotic.


rum kitchen


We also had a Jerk Chicken Supreme (£13.50) – grilled chicken breast, sweet potato and yam mash served with jerk gravy.




The Soft Shell Crab Burger (£11.50) was a monster of thing, towering several feet into the air. The spicy tamarind sauce, ginger aïloi and guava-lime relish added to its gravity-defying brilliance.




The final choice was a Jerk Fried Chicken Burger, served with scotch bonnet garlic mayo. And the world’s BEST sweet potato fries (£3), served in a small bucket.



rum kitchen


Several cocktails later we stumbled out onto the streets of Soho, feeling like we’d just spent a week on a desert island.




The Verdict: The only bad thing about the Rum Kitchen is having to emerge into the real world afterwards. Seriously, it’s that good.






The Rum Kitchen, Soho website:

The Rum Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Brazilian BBQ at Cabana

Cabana is to Brazilian food what Wahaca is to Mexican. The Covent Garden restaurant may look like it belongs in a shopping centre, but it’s been painstakingly decorated so that it *sort of* conjures up images of Rio – if you squeeze your eyes really shut and drink a fair bit of that Caçaha stuff.




There’s plank flooring, poster-lined walls and banquettes upholstered with recycled jeans which apparently come from São Paulo favelas… (that’s slum to you and me). It’s a fun, relaxed place perfect for families or groups of friends.






The menu is also incredibly allergy-friendly. Gluten free dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and Cabana even serves up gluten free dough balls with cheese and garlic butter ‘pao de queijo’, and gluten free pulled pork sliders – music to many a gluten free ear, I’m sure.




The Guaca-Molho (£3.95) did not live up to expectations – too much lime, but the national snack of Brazil, Pao de Queijo (£3.95), was wonderful bite size pieces of cheesy, buttery goodness. There are no calories in Cabana.


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Main courses centre around the Brazilian BBQ in the middle of the restaurant; colour-coded skewers are loaded with everything from marinated chicken thighs or chimichurri rump steak to giant portobello mushrooms with haloumi.


The Chicken Super Salad is served with a skewer of Spicy Malagueta Chicken (£10.95), and can be made even spicier should you wish because there’s a massive bottle of the stuff in the middle of the table. If you do you’re brave indeed.




The Pulled Pork Sloppy José was also on the fiery side, thanks to another generous helping of Malagueta Sauce. We thought the portion a bit mean, but it tasted great.




There is, of course, a veritable mountain of Caçaha cocktails to choose from at Cabana too. Red Tail Parrot was a strange mixture of muddled fruit purees and Prosecco which only really succeeded in tasting of sugar… like drinking the alcohol-soaked souls of a thousand gummy bears.




The Classic Caipirinha (Brazil’s national drink) was much better (as it should have been!) This one’s made with muddled lime, sugar and the sugar cane based liquor that is Caçaha. Tastes sort of like a Mojito really, but more powerful. The Passion Fruit Caipirinha was great, too.





The Verdict: Really good value, nice relaxed setting. Order the addictive Pao de Queijo and a Caipirinha or two.


Gluten Free: Gluten free dishes are all clearly marked on the menu and include things you’d never expect! Look out for this symbol here… no idea what it’s meant to be.

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Cabana on Urbanspoon

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Dinner at Kopapa, Seven Dials

Kopapa is a sort of fusion (aka fridge raid) restaurant from the man behind the highly praised yet slightly pricey Providores in Marylebone.


The New Zealander is famed for his eclectic cooking, bringing together ingredients and techniques from far flung corners of the globe and putting them on tiny little plates in London town.


Kopapa is a little edgier than most of its surrounding restuarants, and is bizarrely loud. Something which, on my first visit for an obscenely hungover brunch, I found entirely horrifying. At dinner time though it didn’t seem so much of a problem.


We chose a selection of small plates to share. Roast hake, piperade & a fried quail’s egg (£8.50) was my favourite, my opinion slightly influenced by the adorably small egg. “So cute!” I squealed… I know, I’m embarrassing.


Roast hake, piperade & a fried quail’s egg


The deep-fried Urfa chilli & sesame salted squid (£7.00) was served with sumac aïoli, because what exactly is the point in ordinary aïoli? This tangy, lemony spice created an aïoli unlike anything I’ve ever tried before, it went perfectly with the squid.


The Kopapa Dinner Menu


Urfa chilli & sesame salted squid


A highlight was the Beef tartare, anchovy dressing and smoked beetroot (£8.50). This dish packed more than just a punch. Two punches, I’d say. We were dangerously close to becoming full when it appeared, but once we tried it we soldiered on through without so much of a whimper.


Beef tartare, anchovy dressing and smoked beetroot


I wasn’t entirely convinced by the Lime-cured salmon, hijiki, braised endive & orange dressing (£7.30), and that’s coming from someone who’d gladly exist on a diet of cured salmon alone… The orange was maybe a bit too much for this one to handle.


Lime-cured salmon, hijiki, braised endive & orange dressing


We also had a portion of scrumptious skinny fries with rosemary salt & garlic (£3.95) to share. I mean it, these fries are truly scrumptious.


The dream was shattered a little when our desserts arrived, though. We ordered a Chocolate & sea salt caramel sundae, tamarind ice cream & popcorn (£8.00), which the waitress described as “a love it or hate it dessert”. It certainly was that… and I’m afraid to say we weren’t on team Sundae.


Chocolate & sea salt caramel sundae, tamarind ice cream & popcorn


The Peanut butter parfait with Original Beans 75% Piura Criollo chocolate délice, salted caramel sauce & chocolate crumble (£8.50) wasn’t bad, but it was incredibly rich, possibly a little too rich considering the serving. We struggled to finish half of it, definitely one for sharing.


Peanut butter parfait with Original Beans 75% Piura Criollo chocolate délice, salted caramel sauce & chocolate crumble


Service was faultless, and at the mere hint of a complaint about the ice cream it was removed from our bill so swiftly we felt a bit guilty for grumbling at all.


The Damage


The Verdict: Fantastic fusion food in a great Seven Dials location. Order the roast hake! Don’t bother with the desserts.






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Kopapa on Urbanspoon

Nopi, Piccadilly

Nopi is allegedly named after its location, just North of Piccadilly. It’s the latest (and maybe greatest) restaurant from the now fairly famous Israeli Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, a chap known for the vibrancy of his food, and big, bold flavours.



Inside it’s all glitz and glamour and polished gold accents, with blinding white tiles completing the look. Undoubtedly an absolute nightmare for their poor cleaners.



The service here is basically brilliant, and Nopi’s very allergy-friendly too. They’ve got a gluten free menu, which changes daily, with a huge range of vegetables, fish and meat dishes. Admittedly not quite as big as the main menu, but not bad at all!


Gluten Free Lunch Menu




Before we began boy was presented with a little plate of bread and oil, which I watched him eat with a sad little gluten free face on. I must’ve looked very sad indeed, because moments afterwards I was given a plate of crudités for free. Look at them, are they not beautiful? They appeared under ‘GF treat’ on the bill, which was sweet. Water’s free too. Nopi is nice.


Crudites (GF Treat)


Gluten full bread


We went for the sharing plates due to an inherent inability to make any kind of decision where food’s concerned. Our chosen dishes included Pork Belly, Buttermilk Cod with Cockles, Asparagus and Jersey Royals.


Buttermilk Cod, Samphire, Cockles


Pork Belly, Squash, Apple




The food was all incredible. We couldn’t fault a thing. Even the simple crudités tasted (and looked) like the best veggies I’d ever had. It’s not cheap – sharing dishes range from £9 – £12, but it was so worth it.


If you are planning a visit to Nopi do not leave without visiting the bathrooms (preferably after a glass of wine or two). They’re entirely covered in mirrors, and they’re all WIGGLY. It’s the most disorientating thing I’ve ever experienced. Like being at a fun fair but more distressing. As I stood washing my hands attempting to recover from the shock of it all another woman entered. She stopped, startled. Then looked at me, confused. One woman actually entered the men’s by accident. Honestly, it’s enough to send one off to the funny farm.


The Verdict: Slick service, fantastic flavours, bizarre bathrooms.


Gluten Free Friendly: Yes!





NOPI on Urbanspoon

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A Persian Feast at Doost, Kennington Road

Owing to a bit of a kerfuffle between our Lord Boris of Johnson and the naughty train drivers last week, I found myself stuck in the delightful land of Kennington, with naught but a sly hope of gourmet dining to keep my spirits up. After a bit of exploration I stumbled upon Doost, a Persian restaurant on Kennington Road, which, weirdly enough, doubles as a vodka bar.


Doost Restaurant


Of course I was sold, hurling myself inside with such enthusiasm many customers dropped their forks in shock. Having been seated within this diminutive little eating hole, which, I can only imagine was designed with borrowers in mind, I found myself perusing a menu so vast it took almost all my strength to hold it upright.


On the menu were all the world’s dishes which could conceivably be thought of as ‘Persian’. Reams of starters included dips and flatbreads, tiger prawns, calamari, the terribly exclusive ‘Doost Chicken’ and much much more. Refusing wholeheartedly to waste valuable time and energy on decision making, I opted for the mysterious ‘Platter For Two’, Chef’s selection of six Mazeh served with Barbari & Taftoon Bread. (I shared it, I’m not Augustus Gloop).


Chef’s selection of six Mazeh
Chef’s selection of six Mazeh


What arrived was a veritable feast of Persian goodness! King Prawns with Herb, Tamarind, Coriander & Parsley, Herb Frittata, Roasted Aubergine & Garlic, Caspian Olive Tapenade and Calamari. All of which tasted entirely wonderful, my favourite being the Roasted Aubergine & Garlic, a tiny bowl so powerful it could easily have knocked out the entire cast of Twilight.


Mains were good, yet a little less interesting than the starter platter. It is of course tremendously difficult to compete with a platter, though. I opted for the Doost Chicken, reasoning that it must be terrifically tasty if they chose to name their restaurant after it.


Doost Chicken
Doost Chicken


It was indeed tasty, juicy and rich with saffron and lime, but I did feel it was perhaps lacking a little something. The portion though was incredibly generous, I imagine a whole field of chickens must have lost their lives for it. It was accompanied by a mountain of saffron rice, and a tiny pot of butter. Do Persians butter their rice? And if so, is one to butter each grain of rice individually? Must take them ages.


Tender Lamb Fillet
Tender Lamb Fillet


Boy too opted for a ‘Persian Grill’ main course, choosing the Tender Lamb Fillet marinated in aromatic mixed herbs. And the lamb did triumph over the chicken! A wise choice boy made. I offered my congratulations, adopting stealth mode as I distracted him with bright lights and sparkles in an attempt to switch our plates. This proved unsuccessful, to my shame.




The Verdict: Brilliant food, great service, most delightful little miniature restaurant. Lovely.






305 Kennington Rd,
Greater London
SE11 4QE
020 7582 3123




Gluten Free Grilling with the Tefal Optigrill

I love a gadget. And I’ve just got a new one. It’s called Optigrill… and it’s practically perfect in every way. Made by Tefal, the Optigrill is a sort of jazzed up George Foreman, which by some sort of witchcraft knows how long to cook all sorts of different foodstuffs. Even steak.

Continue reading Gluten Free Grilling with the Tefal Optigrill