London isn’t short of a gluten-free option. But as sufferers of coeliac disease will attest, there aren’t all that many places where the contamination risk doesn’t linger — threatening to sap the joy out of new dining experiences. Walk-ins are awkward at best and even the most accommodating places leave a niggling doubt.
Thankfully, there are some excellent chains that are now ‘safe’ by coeliac standards. The Pizza Express’s and Pho’s of this world are an accredited beacon. But sometimes you’re in the market for an ambient little place you’ve never been before and all the potential of a virgin menu. Here are a few such places where London’s gluten-averse can dine out worry-free.
MOMMI — Clapham
The Japanese-come-Peruvian ‘Nikkei’ menu at Mommi is entirely gluten-free and features the likes of tempura, flatbreads and deep-fried croquetas. This artsy ‘raw bar’ and grill offers those with a severe gluten sensitivity complete peace of mind in the knowledge that nothing wheat-based has entered its kitchen. It’s featured on the ‘Top 10 gluten-free’ lists of Tatlers and Time Out et al and offers 40% off food on Monday evenings to boot.
Ardiciocca — Fulham
This humble Fulham Italian serves traditional trattoria cuisine, made entirely gluten-free. Each menu item has been adapted with coeliac safe cereals and grains, to give the same texture and flavour depth as any regular pasta or dough. Mainstays like arancini, pasta and gnocchi are all there along with sides of mussel croquettes and mozzarella salad. Setting it apart though is its proper Italian pizzas. For those moments when you crave authentic crust without the worry of a shared oven, you’re looking for a place like this. Ardiciocca sources the finest ingredients from its repertoire of reputable suppliers, making for a confident gluten-free dining experience.
This gluten-free bakery expanded from its beginnings in Fitzrovia to supply London’s Wholefoods stores with its produce. Beyond Bread tasks itself with challenging preconceptions of powdery gluten-free baked goods, with an eyewatering array of traditional breads — from pumpernickel to sourdough to brioche. They deliver on Danish pastries, croissants and cakes too, at a price. An almond croissant will set you back around £4. But when you look at the list of ingredients it takes to create the ‘real deal’, that’s hardly surprising.
Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges
The H+H cafe is free from grains and, therefore, gluten. Refined sugars and hydrogenated fats are also off the menu and ingredients are sourced from local growers and producers who meet exacting standards of provenance. The breakfast offering includes buckwheat granola and quinoa carrot toast. Lunch is clean salad and snacks served with fermented condiments and a cocktail, if you’re in the market. The best part is it doesn’t cost much more than a regular deli brunch — alcohol aside.
Niche — Islington
London’s original 100% gluten-free restaurant occupies the mid to upper echelons — with rare breed short ribs, pan-seared cod and a handful of pricier than average salad, vegan and vegetarian options. It has a dimly-lit ambience, set away from the bustle of Angel Islington, and the focus is modern British comfort food. It’s all of those things a coeliac misses: shortcrust pastry, fried chicken and even cheese doughnuts, executed with flair using fresh, seasonal, ingredients.
Apres Food Co — Clerkenwell
Apres started life as a little breakfast and lunch spot with a goal to make nourishing food exist outside of salad. Piloted by nutritional therapist Catherine and hospitality veteran Danny, Apres focuses on comfort food that’s good for you. There are cakes, burgers and shortcrust savoury tarts on the menu — all nutritionally balanced, organic and free-range. And, of course, every single dish is free from gluten. The venue now opens its doors for evening dinner Monday to Friday, serving blinis, steak and blue cheese pie and fragrant aubergine curry.