Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Quick Lunch at Hotel du Vin, Edinburgh

My speedy lunch yesterday is probably not sufficient for a full-on review.  However, I ate at the Hotel du Vin Bistro which is within the five star Hotel of the same name and the experience was, on the whole, good.  In a slightly uneasy location on an island in the middle of a one way loop, the Hotel may have trouble with pick up and drop off for guests - and I am confused about where they might park.... but the Hotel and its rooms are lovely and full of character.

Anyway, to the restaurant.  As it is January and it was a working lunch, we had a quick main course followed by a cup of peppermint tea.

I ate the cod with puy lentils and my gluten eating friend had liver and mashed potato, which looked delicious, though possibly quite filling for lunch!  My cod was well cooked and really hot, which on a cold January day was very welcome.  The waiter, on being told I was coeliac, checked my choice with the kitchen and they cooked my cod without the breadcrumb crust.  It was delicious and meaty and filling, with a very tasty buttery bowl of thinly sliced carrots on the side.  This was a meal that was good on its own and I certainly did not feel I was eating a compromise option.

With plenty of water and a nice cup of peppermint tea, this was the ideal speedy lunch.  My only criticism of the restaurant might be that the waiter did not know the gluten free options automatically and had to check with the kitchen.  Other restaurants I have dined in have a specific menu with information written in it which allows you to make your choice in an easier and more relaxed way.  I also noticed there were no main course salads on the menu - I know it is January, but a salad is a good lunch option and is usually my first choice.

This is a restaurant I go to fairly frequently with my family, so will definitely return.  At that time I shall do a proper review with full scores.

I did remember to photograph my meal this time!  But it was only after I had eaten it that I remembered that you need to check puy lentil packets as some are produced using an anti-caking agent which can contain wheat.  Marks & Spencer puy lentils are not suitable, whereas the Merchant Gourmet ones are.  Reading the ingredients box has become my new obsession!

Hotel du Vin
11 Bristo Place
Edinburgh EH1 1EZ
0844 735 4255

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

David Bann Restaurant

David Bann is an Edinburgh institution, representing vegetarian cooking at its best.  Known for good service and surprisingly tasty food, this is a great destination for vegetarians and meat eaters.  The restaurant immediately offered a separate menu, with scribbles in all the right places to enable easy gluten free choices.

There is a good range of gluten free food and my choice was not limited.  I started with a very good stack polenta and roasted vegetables (I really do have to get into the habit of photographing my food before I dive in) and a main course of risotto (with the mushroom element left out, naturally).

The risotto was a healthy portion and despite missing a main ingredient, for me was sufficiently tasty that I pretty much finished my plate.  My teenage boy (who eats gluten fine) ate the goats cheese and onion tartlet very quickly, followed by a cashew nut and potato pie.  He was then too full for pudding, which represents a win!

Side orders included some very tasty and gluten free chips with dips:

The puddings look good and my dining companies tucked in happily, while I was too full after my risotto.

Overall I would say this is good dining for a coeliac and the restaurant is good at giving clarity around choices.  As a keen meat and fish eater I would not automatically choose to eat just vegetarian and my concern was that it was removing even more GF choices from my menu, but actually I was happy with it all.

Again, this is not a cheap option for a restaurant. It comes in at around £30 a head, which will be steep for many people, but I highly recommend it - particularly for the gluten free vegetarian.

Information: 4
Serving Staff: 4 (I was accidentally given a bread roll)
Choices: 3.5
Quality: 5
Overall Experience: 4

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review of Edinburgh's Gusto

Some days you find the right place and feel like the world is on your side. This was how I felt when I recently had lunch at Gusto on George Street.  With a really clued up team and a great range of food for the coeliac, this was a very good dining experience.

We had one small hiccup, that the whole meal that came, including the food for my non-gluten free companion, was gluten free.  However, this was a massive compensation for me, as it meant I could try the Gusto gluten free pasta option – which is extremely good and indistinguishable from the “normal”.  And my wheat friendly friend gave it the thumbs up, which is an accolade!  The other point I would make is that the menu has no indication of GF options or any pointers, so we were entirely dependent on the waiter for guidance, which could be a problem in some circumstances.

The inability of restaurants to offer gluten free chips was one of the shocks when I first started dining out, but I have to applaud Gusto for offering some delicious roast potatoes as an alternative. Flavoured with herbs and garlic, they were actually better than chips and I would not normally have thought of ordering them.   They came, accompanying a very good Romesco Salad – with goats cheese and chicken.  My unwittingly gluten free friend had a seafood pasta, which had a garlic tomato sauce, a lovely herby tang and was extremely tasty.  The food is well presented and came quickly, which is impressive as the restaurant was busy.

With two large glasses of wine, the menu came to a very good value £35 – all with good service and friendly and clear help.   Add this to your list of gluten free dining options and you will not regret it.  I was so taken with it, I plan to go back next week with a group of friends.

Apologies for the photography - we had tucked well into our delicious meal before I remembered that I had to photograph it!

Information: 3
Serving Staff: 4 (but only as we were more GF than intended)
Choices: 4
Quality: 4.5
Overall Experience: 4.5

135 George Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 4JS
0131 225 2555


Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Best Gluten Free Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh

A proper afternoon tea is a really indulgent treat when done properly.  It offers the chance for a catch-up with a friend or a family celebration.  When going for a gluten free afternoon tea it is important to book in advance to ensure the best experience possible.  Here is a small selection of some of Edinburgh’s finest.

Café Portrait

Set within the Portrait Gallery on Queen Street, Café Portrait offers a superb afternoon tea in the snug at the rear of the restaurant.  With cake stands and prosecco, this is an indulgent treat with a lovely selection of savoury and sweet delights.  With advance warning the whole stack of scones, cakes and sandwiches can be offered gluten free, including the warming little cup of soup to start.  Add in the glass of fizz and celebrate how a GF life does not need to exclude the highest quality afternoon tea!

Run by Heritage Portfolio, the same quality of food is also available at the two modern art galleries, Hopetoun House (during summer months) and at the Signet Library on the High Street.  These all offer GF lunches and treats as a matter of course.

Café Portrait
Queen Street, EH2 1JD
0131 624 6423

North Bridge Brasserie Scotsman

The North Bridge Brasserie is the public restaurant within the Scotsman Hotel.  It is a great spot for a pre-dinner drink, or dinner itself.  The surroundings are modern, but comfortable and the Brasserie also offers a badged Gluten Free Afternoon Tea.  With treats including sandwiches made with Genius bread; fruit scones; lemon meringues and strawberry & ginger cake, the tea runs alongside a classic Afternoon Tea.  Also offered with champagne, this is an indulgent, but gluten free friendly option. 

North Bridge Brasserie
Edinburgh EH1 ITR
0131 622 2900

The Balmoral Hotel

The Palm Court in Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel is a legendary location for ladies who do afternoon tea. Classic cake stands, a wonderful choice of teas and the best possible service all contribute to make this one of the city’s finest afternoon tea experiences.  Gluten free options include open sandwiches, scones and cakes, all on a separate stand.  While the website does not make this option explicit, as you might expect from a five star establishment, nothing is too much trouble!

The Balmoral Hotel
1 Princes Street, EH2 2EQ
0131 556 2414

G&V Hotel

My previous review of lunch at the five star G&V demonstrated the excellence in service and the level of understanding around gluten free dining.

The G&V also provides a delicious prosecco afternoon tea with a cake stand of treats plus tea and a glass of fizz.  Advance warning brings you a pile of delicious gluten free cakes, sandwiches and delights.  The service is always good and the hotel will undergo a refurbishment in early 2015 as it drops much of the previous Missoni branding and improves the public spaces.  Can’t wait!

G&V Hotel
1 George IV Bridge, EH1 1AD

0131 220 6666