Gluten free experience at Chiquito

Yes Chiquito! Thank you for your gluten free menu, I can now frequent your establishment for cocktails, sombreros and Mexican with confidence. Attention all, the amazing people at Chiquito have put together a gluten free menu that does not disappoint.

My family and I decided to celebrate my little brothers return from Spain by going out for dinner at Chiquito. My family love Chiquito and we regularly visit for special occasions (given the number of times we have visited, there have been many special occasions). I normally drive because my mom and brother love the cocktail menu, they get all giggly on the variety of mojito flavours or limited edition mixers. The restaurant always has a lively and upbeat feel because hearty Mexican food brings out the best in people.

Looking through the menu I saw so many delicious options, even some of the healthy options tempted me. In the end though I went for the ribs, full-rack. These ribs were so delicious, juicy and meaty, covered in a yummy bbq sauce with extra sauce for you to pour on as you wish. It even came with a little gluten free flag stuck in them, just to give you confidence that what you are eating is safe. However, there is an issue we need to address with this meal. They don’t serve the regular fries with the gluten free options. They serve sweet potato wedges. I genuinely don’t like it when restaurants insist on having chips that they coat with flour – what is the point! But, these sweet potato wedges were amazing. They were huge and full of flavour. I am willing to (on this rare occasion) make an exception and allow a free pass for Chiquito’s sweet potato wedges.

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Now I should have mentioned that Chiquito have changed a few things like their menu, but I couldn’t see that many differences because I recognised so many dishes from the previous menu on the gluten free one. By the way, if you like the fajitas they do a gluten free option.

When we arrived they served some free nachos on the table (a change from popcorn) but I wasn’t sure if they were safe to eat. It might be nice if they said if the nachos were gluten free or not when they severe them. If you put food in front of someone you might not realise that they can’t have it, and is worth mentioning just in case. A lot of tortilla chips out there are gluten free, but some aren’t, and you could think it is safe but find it isn’t at all. If the person dining is coeliac, Chiquito could get in some real trouble. It is worth noting that the nachos are not included on the gluten free menu.

I never ordered a pudding because I was so full, but I did take a look. Their gluten free deserts include the old familiars ice cream and sorbet, but they also serve a blueberry and apple crumble, chilli pineapple thins and a fruit melody. When I was visiting my brother in Spain we came across frozen gluten free churros. If Chiquito served gluten free churros, they would make it into the gluten free hall of fame. I miss their churros sooo much, and would love the opportunity to have them again (but without being in pain afterwards).

Although this review has only discussed one item on the gluten free menu I still wanted to discuss the experience of dining at Chiquito when you are trying to avoid gluten. You’ve read the good and the bad, but overall I would recommend it. The gluten free flag in the food is a lovely touch, and the fact they have an actual menu leaves a good impression. Plus the food is really good, I have never been let down by the food at Chiquto. If you want a fun, but some-what safe, gluten free dining experience, head to Chiquito. Don’t worry if you’ve left your sombrero at home, they have plenty of spares.

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Gluten free dining at Bill’s

Ah Bill’s, where do I begin. Yes it is a hipster chain restaurant, but every time I visit I fall more and more in love with it. Quick question, can something still be hipster when it becomes mainstream? Back to the post. I loved going to bills before the low FODMAP diet and I love visiting it still. The menu used to be small (they have recently added a load of more of delicious dishes), but everything on it looked amazing and unique. They serve dishes you think you’ll like, but you’ve never had it the way they serve it, so you give it a go, and it exceeds your expectations. Even though I am jealous that I can’t have some of the new items on the menu, I am impressed by how good the gluten free menu is. It has some of the dishes I enjoyed before, and some I want to try.

Firstly, you can see their gluten free menu on their website, so if you are like me, you can check out what you are going to order before you even get to the restaurant. Does anyone else do this? They have plenty of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert. In order to do this review I decided I would have to check out at least two of the menus, so I went for breakfast with my bestie and dinner, but not in the same day. Although, that would have been amazing.

When I used to go to Bill’s for breakfast before the low FODMAP diet, I would always get the pancakes with fruit. These pancakes are so fluffy and delicious, but alas they are not on the gluten free menu. I also used to get the Bill’s breakfast, which is on the gluten free menu. Bill’s, if you ever want to included gluten free pancakes on your menu you could use this recipe, the pancakes it produces are very similar to yours and would bring happiness to those who are gluten free. However, for this breakfast I decided to get the Eggs Royale. I love Eggs Royale, I tend to order it when eating out as their is nothing better than having someone else prepare poached eggs for you. They are too tricky to do at home, and a chef can make them better. The Eggs Royale weren’t served on a gluten free muffins, just gluten free bread, but the bread was really good. Very light and fluffy, but not too crumply. This gluten free bread is toasted, so this might be why it doesn’t fall apart. Regardless, the bread was light, not dense, and paired perfectly with the eggs and salmon. The hollandaise sauce is also good and adds to this fabulous breakfast.

A few weeks later I was back at Bill’s for dinner. This time I decided to go for the fish pie. I had always wanted to try it, but never got round to it (thank god its on the gluten free menu). I wasn’t actually expecting much from this pie, but it was amazing. The mash alone was soooo tasty, and the chunks of fish and prawns was generous. You definitely get yours moneys worth. It comes with a little pot of cream, and I tried it, but found that I liked the taste of the pie alone so much that I ignored the sauce for the rest of the meal. The only thing that lets the dinner and lunch menu down is the naked burger. It is a pet peeve of mine when you go to restaurants and they offer a naked burger, or sweet potato chips instead of regular. There is no need to buy chips for your restaurant that are covered in flour, and a naked burger is just a lazy option for a gluten free menu. Buy some frozen gluten free buns and stop making gluten free meals so small!

Rant over, luckily the Bill’s desert menu saves it. There really aren’t that many differences between the gluten free and regular desert menu. I went for the sticky toffee pudding which is a favourite of mine. Before the low FODMAP diet I tried sticky toffee pudding at Bill’s and would have no reaction, but whenever I bought sticky toffee pudding from the supermarket it really upset my stomach. Now I know it is because the Bill’s version is gluten free. This sticky toffee pudding is also delicious and they serve it warm with an addictively sweet toffee sauce. However, I need to go back to try the Victoria sponge cake and Eton mess. There are also chocolate options for those who love their chocolate.

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If you are gluten free and looking for somewhere to dine Bill’s is definitely the place for you. They have chains everywhere and have a lot of delicious choices available. Plus they do some amazing drinks and cocktails.

These past two gluten free experiences of Bill’s have made me love Bill’s even more, but I haven’t quite gotten over the naked burger thing.

Gluten free Raspberry and Coconut loaf.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend took me to Kipling Gardens in Brighton for a picnic. He asked me what food I wanted for our picnic and although I had many requests, my main one was meringue baskets. I had been seeing these all over the supermarkets and wanted to try them out. I know I like meringue, so I wasn’t trying anything new, but I’d never eaten it in this style before. We got some blueberries, raspberries and cream to go with our meringues, and all together it was delicious. I will also have to give eton mess a try now. Being on the low fodmap diet has opened me up to trying lots of new foods, the meringue baskets were one, and eton mess will be the next. However, this post isn’t about my new found love of meringue, and the many different ways it can be eaten, it’s about the delicious raspberries I ate with that meringue, and how I was inspired to bake with them.

 
I headed to where I usually steal inspiration from, Pinterest. But I couldn’t find anything on Pinterest that made me want to bake with raspberries. Then I remembered that I had also wanted to bake something with coconut in it and A Volia! Inspiration had struck. A raspberry and coconut loaf with raspberry jam on top sprinkled with coconut made me instantly pulling out my mixing bowl and hand whisk. I searched Pinterest again and found this recipe which isn’t gluten free but I decided to swap the flour in it for gluten free flour.

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Ingredients
225g Self Raising Flour
175g Unsalted Butter
175g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
200g Fresh Raspberries
4tbsp raspberry jam (you can decide if you want more or less)
75g coconut (roughly, you can have as much or as little as you want

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3 and line a loaf tin.
  2. Mix all the ingredients (apart from the raspberries) together in a large bowl until fully combined, about two minutes with a handheld mixer. Mix in the raspberries very gently as you don’t want them to break. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for an hour. You can tell if the mixture is done by sticking a skewer into the middle, if it comes out unclean, cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  3. Allow the loaf to cool completely before removing from the tin and spreading the jam on the top. Sprinkle with coconut. If your jam is coming out the fridge, spoon 4 tbsp into a bowl and keep mixing it around until it becomes more spreadable. I did this so that the loaf wouldn’t break when spreading the jam.

Kept in an airtight container the loaf should last three days, if it lasts that long.

Although this was delicious, and I discovered that Raspberry and coconut make a lovely summery combination, the loaf was very crumbly. I had this problem a few weeks ago when I made a lemon sponge cake, the cake worked, but once you cut a slice it was too crumbly to eat unless you had a fork.

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Does anyone have any tips for gluten free baking when following a recipe that isn’t designed to be gluten free? Should I use Xantham Gum? I did try using it in the loaf, but it didn’t really help. Does anyone know how much you should use so that it acts as the elasticity gluten normally provides to keep cakes or loafs together? Does anyone have any other tips to help me with my problem? Like how to keep a cake moist when using gluten free flour? I really want to learn more about baking gluten free so any help anyone can pass on would be fantastic.

 
Yes, I know I should probably just use gluten free recipes. But I have some great cake recipes that I want to make gluten free, I just don’t know how.

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Gluten Free at Ed’s Easy Diner

Yes, another one of my beloved restaurants that provides gluten free options!

Me and my family first discovered Ed’s Easy Diner in Bluewater years ago, and every time we are there, we have to pay another visit. An Ed’s opened really close to me in Sussex, but it then sadly closed 😥 . When I discovered there is an Ed’s in Brighton it gave me the perfect excuse to visit Brighton again.

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Firstly, at Ed’s you get a gluten free menu! No looking through the nutritional booklet here. As Ed’s is an American diner it specialises in burgers and hotdogs, so it is great that they do gluten free burgers and hotdog buns. I didn’t compare the gluten-free menu to the gluten menu, but it was still pretty extensive, and seemed to have a lot of the same items that you could get on the regular menu. I’m so happy to see somewhere that actuallys provides gluten free buns. It really bugs me when restaurants just do a ‘naked burger’. I’m not expecting fresh buns, I’m happy for them to be frozen and toasted back to life for my burger.  I feel like Ed’s deserves a lot of recognition for their gluten free menu. You can still enjoy a lot of the same things as everyone else, and not have an obvious stand out non-gluten meal. I will also mention here, that Ed’s also do gluten free chips, and they had two gluten free desert options!

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Even before I knew I had to give up wheat and gluten I hadn’t had a hotdog in so long! When I saw that Ed’s did gluten free hotdog buns (something I haven’t even spotted in many well-known super markets) I knew it was time for the hotdog draught to end. The bun was delicious. It was almost like having a brioche bun that was maybe a day old. It was still very soft, and had a rich texture; it wasn’t dry and dense like most gluten free baked goods can be. I really enjoyed this hotdog, and the bun did taste good by itself. I will definitely be ordering the hotdog again, and trying a gluten free burger… probably not at the same time though.

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Over all I’ve always loved and recommended Ed’s because I love the American diner theme. Plus I have been watching Riverdale and I kind of felt like I was sitting it that diner just waiting for Archie to come in and share a milkshake with me.  If you are gluten free and needing a burger or hotdog, please check out Ed’s. They have restaurants all over London, and of course Brighton. Ed’s definitely needs to expand and be everywhere like a Pizza Express! I can’t wait for my next visit!

P.S. If you get a milkshake, be prepared to have a lot of milkshake!

Gluten Free at Harvester

When it comes to dining out I am really not that fussy (apart from the whole low FODMAP diet thing). I know people who turn their nose up at harvester, but they don’t know what they are missing out on. The unlimited drinks refills, the salad bar, the desserts and the classic, can’t go wrong, meal options. I’ve loved the harvester ever since I was little. Who else remembers when they looked like some kind of farming antique shop?

Harvesters around me seem to be closing down slowly, so, me and my mom ventured out to Crawley for a cheap but delicious eat. The harvester does not have a gluten free menu, but they will give you a nutritional information booklet for you to look through and select your meal. I didn’t find out until later that they also do gluten free bread rolls on request for the salad cart! I just assumed they didn’t, it wasn’t until I was half way through the main course that my mom informed me. To be fair the waitress probably should have told me too. I went for the ribs and sticky toffee pudding, and my lord, it was delicious.

Harvester ribs are always so good, they are really meaty, and the meat just falls of the bone (sorry if you are a vegetarian). You’ll also be happy to hear that their chips are gluten free as well. There were a few things on the menu that are my classic go to choices for the harvester, like the rotisserie chicken, but it contains gluten. It would be useful if the harvester told you where the gluten was located in the meal. For example, if it is in the sauce then you could just ask for the meal with no sauce.

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Now the sticky toffee pudding basically stole the show. It was warm, gooey and deliciously moreish. I find it odd that Sticky toffee pudding is gluten free in a lot of places (Bill’s is another), but not in others. But I ain’t complaining. When the pudding was placed in front of me I just dived in and totally forgot to photograph it. I tried to hide where I had a few bites, but I wasn’t very successful.

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You can also check out what you can have on the menu before you go to the restaurant to help you save time, click here for a list of all their foods, including salad cart items, which are gluten free.

Now I know I can still eat some of my favourite dishes at the harvester I will definitely be going back again, especially since it doesn’t hurt my wallet as much as other restaurants could.

Pip x

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