Review: The Canvas Cafe – London

Eating Out

I started following The Canvas Cafe on Instagram after somebody shared some photos on their own Instagram.

The regular photos they shared of their vegan freakshakes just couldn’t be ignored.

On a recent trip to London I had to visit, luckily it’s a short walking distance from London Liverpool Street.

Once in there I asked for gluten/dairy free, they advised they had no cakes etc available but that their vegan milkshakes (aka freakshakes) were.

I believe these were about £8, with a choice of flavours. I opted for blueberry.

The drink turned up in a very large glass, covered in vegan whipped cream, blueberries, chocolate and a chocolate brownie.

Initial taste of the cream and chocolate was a light tasting cream, and a good dairy free chocolate. The brownie was soft and rich.

What I quickly learnt was that this drink is filling. You get a very large amount and

as I struggled through I found more brownie at the bottom of the glass. I just could not finish the drink, no matter how hard I tried.

I can’t wait to head back and try an alternative flavour, however I will be sharing the drink next time.

The drink was delicious, and such an experience. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have a milkshake like this that was suitable for me.


Review: Honest burger – London

Eating Out

I was introduced to Honest burger a number of years ago, since then they’ve opened up at further locations throughout London.

The most handy of these is the one near Liverpool Street station.

Being a couple of minutes walk, it is well worth the train journey out of Essex to get a delicious burger AND onion rings.

Honest don’t have an extensive menu, there is a few different options to choose from. But every one of these is delicious and done well.

It is most fantastic for a coeliac to hear when asking for a gluten free bun, that they query if your dietary requirements are an intolerance or an allergy with an understanding of coeliacs as well.

The best bit is hearing that the only item of gluten they have in the kitchen is the standard buns, and these are kept separate from everything else. The friers are a completely gluten free zone and their onion rings and chips are gluten free!!!

The chips come included with the burgers, and they are rosemary and sea salted chips which are amazing!

This burger was one of their specials, which was a ‘Tribute to bacon’ and included extra thick cuts of bacon, burger, bacon ketchup and a bacon gravy on the side.

Honest burgers are one of the best burgers I have ever tried, they are so rich and full of flavour.

The service is always friendly and quick, and the prices are actually really good, especially for London.

If you’re a coeliac and you’re missing having decent burgers, then you must go to Honest.

Review: Nando’s – Festival Leisure Basildon, Essex

Eating Out

It’s often a struggle trying to find somewhere quick, and easy if travelling to places you haven’t had a chance to research first. Or if going with a large group etc. Chains are good in the fact that they will generally have a set menu etc so if you can eat at one you can normally feel safe to eat at another in a different town.

I decided to attempt Nando’s when a group from work went for dinner, I went to the Chelmsford one and was pleasantly surprised how helpful they were to accommodate me.

I also like the fact that my chicken came with a flag stating ‘special diet’

Since then I’ve eaten at a few different ones, the only place I have had an issue from was the one on ‘The Boardwalk’ in Lakeside, Thurrock.

I’m fairly certain I got glutened at this one and was extremely unwell after a while.

This one also came without a flag in it stating about my diet, so I’m unsure if they just do not handle dietary requirements there quite as well.

Most recently I ate at the one in Festival Leisure, Basildon.

They gave me extra seeds as a side as I couldn’t eat the dip (because of dairy) and my food again came with a flag and they confirmed it was gluten free when delivering it.

Nando’s is my emergency go to, if I’m somewhere I do not know, and generally speaking they have been brilliant.

The festival Leisure in Basildon one being so far the best for catering to requirements.

Review: The Angel & Harp – Dunmow, Essex

Eating Out

Whilst googling for places that could cater for coeliacs I came across ‘The Angel & Harp’.

Based in Dunmow it is a little far out for me, but is an easy drive and in a very pretty location.

There is a large carpark, and the entrance is round the back through the pub garden.

There is a number of tables outside with heat lamps, and a fountain.

Inside it is comfortable and a decent size with a number of areas, stopping you from feeling over crowded.

The exciting thing is when it comes to the menu, they have both a gluten free menu and a separate dairy free one. So are comfortable catering to both.

The dishes should definitely come with a warning…. they’re substantial in size.

Starters are definitely filling, and so by the time mains is finished it is definitely a struggle.

I’ve had a few different bits on my visits to the pub.

Recent starters being:

Crackling & apple sauce (by far my favourite)

A salad with goats cheese halloumi:


Lorena pizza (goats cheese, pine nuts and sweet potato)

Or my most recent (and favourite) pork belly:

The food comes well presented, with generous portions. Most important of all it’s always delicious and the service is always fab.

The angel & harp is fast becoming one of my favourite pubs to go to.

The Clean Plate – Rayleigh Review

Eating Out

I've recently decided to create a 'Free from' directory for myself when needing to find a suitable place to eat out.

I'm slowly building a list of places, which of course means I have lots of new places to try out!

One of these was incredibly local to myself, and I wish I had found it sooner.

'The clean plate' is a completely gluten free cafe.
Not only are they completely gluten free, but they also cater strongly for vegans.
This of course means not only do I not have to study the menu for gluten free items. But I know there's options that will also be dairy free (no dairy from cows for me)

The cafe is not far from Rayleigh station and is easy to find. There is no parking at the cafe, but lots of side streets to park in. So parking was not an issue.

Clean plate is not a huge place, and I've been told it can fill up quite quickly. However we were lucky and picked a relatively quiet time to go.
With a choice of tables, either inside or out.

First decision needed, was of course a drink….. I opted for a vegan milkshake.

The vegan option (aka dairy free) only came in chocolate. However I was given a choice of milks, and rather than going for the standard 'soya'.
I chose my home favourite of cashew milk.

Then of course came the difficult decision of finding something to eat.
When you're used to being given a couple of items to choose from, an entire menu is a bit overwhelming.

There is the standard page and then a page for vegan alternatives of the same.

It was a difficult toss up between pizza or pancakes.
But as pancakes is not an option I've found anywhere else, I opted for that.

I was able to choose the vegan pancakes so that they'd be dairy free, but with the standard menu sides toppings…. 'bacon and maple syrup'

The food was creatively presented, and delicious. The vegan pancakes had a slight hint of banana to them (which I'm assuming is because they're made with them as a dairy alternative) but were tasty and went well with the bacon and syrup.

I also had garlic bread, however ate this before I could take a picture of it (it was delicious though)

Not only did I have so much choice for a mains, but I then found they did raw vegan cakes.
Which of course I had to try.

Looking at the menu they also offer sandwiches etc to take away. Which would be perfect if you needed to grab a lunch en-route somewhere.

Having an entirely gluten free cafe, so close to me is probably not good news for my bank account or waistline. However I can't begin to express how great it feels to not have to worry about explaining my coeliacs.
With the dairy being my only worry, and the cafe catering so well for vegans I can eat most of what's on offer.

I will be going back…..regularly!

Gluten Free in Toulouse


Berlin has truly spoilt me as a coeliac, and so I find it is all too easy to want to stick with Germany as a holiday destination. France was not an option I had really considered, when I think of France my mind conjures images of baguettes, croissants, cheese’s etc.
On top of this, my German speaking skills just about get me through whilst there. My French however, is nothing to shout about. The tiny amount I remember from school, is not particularly helpful (I don’t think anybody wants to know what my favourite school subject used to be)
Trying to find a cheap last minute holiday, left limited choices. Toulouse seemed like the best option, which left me with the difficult task of finding places I could eat and buy food from.
Landing quite late on a Thursday, meant food shopping was not an option.
The next day we had an Escape Room booked (would definitely recommend) after this it was a case of wandering around to try and find a place I could get some food items from. Randomly stumbling across a ‘Biocoop’ on the Boulevard Lazare Carnot. This is effectively an Organic food shop, it was similar inside to Holland & Barrett here in the U.K.
Next was the dreaded hunt reading ingredients in French and hoping I could spot any ‘bad’ ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of shelves all containing food items that were ‘Sans Gluten’, a lot of these products also had English ingredients on the back. The ones that didn’t were fairly
straight forwards to read.

There was a very large selection of cakes, biscuits, cereals, pastas, breads etc. In fact there was more in this shop than there is in most smaller Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s etc here.

I refrained from buying too much at this point as I had read about a shop that was meant to be brilliant for gluten free. ‘Parapharmacie Lafayette’ was mentioned on a few gluten free blogs, naturally we headed here next.
Walking into the shop we were stopped by a security guard who ushered us to what appeared to be a ‘cloak room’ for bags, we were made to give over our bags, and in exchange get a number tag (yes, like a night club) this was extremely odd and left us feeling a bit perplexed at why we had to deposit our bags into this cloak room, and yet some people were strolling round the shop with large handbags.
We quickly found the gluten free section, which again contained lots of pastas, cakes, breads etc.  I believe there was a better selection at the Biocoop than here, and at least there we didn’t have security guards making us feel uncomfortable (or have to hand our bags over.)
I did purchase a box of cereal from here however, which consisted of flakes and large pieces of dried fruit. Unfortunately I’ve now run out of this, which I am gutted as it was delicious.

Coming across a shopping centre on our walk back, we found another small supermarket (unsure what the name was it just had a picture on the front of the building) this had a limited amount of gluten free items. There was lots of bits scattered, around the shop with their gluten filled counterparts.
What I did notice, was unfortunately Cashew milk does not appear to be a thing, and it was a struggle to find dairy free butter.

Eating out, was the next mission!
Yard – La Burger Factory, was the first place I found with several reviews commenting on the gluten free buns etc. Being a huge burger lover, naturally this was my first choice.
The place was easy to find, being fairly near to the Cathedral and other food places. Take note, that it closes during the afternoon before re-opening at 19:00.
We ended up eating here three times, and had no issues getting an outside table immediately. There is limited seating outside, but a lots of seats inside (as also appears there is a downstairs level).
The menu, was all in french however with a little help from a translator on our phones we got what we needed. I went for a Staten Island burger with a gluten free bun. This one contained goats cheese rather than cow, and it was much easier going for one that included it (rather than trying to ask them to swap bits)
Service was extremely quick, and the burgers were quickly brought out not long after ordering. Burgers were served medium as standard, and were delicious. Three times, we visited here and the burgers were fantastic on every visit as were the chips.

There was a gluten free dessert mentioned on the menu, however I believe this may have been chocolate mousse. So not suitable for  those who are dairy intolerant.
Pastel et Sarrasin
The other place we ate out for lunch at, was Pastel et Sarrasin which was a creperie. We chose this one, as Sarrasin means buckwheat, and this place specialised in buckwheat galettes. The waitress assured me that their galettes are gluten free and made from buckwheat.
I went for a galette filled with goats cheese, sun dried tomato and pesto with a herb sorbet.
It was absolutely amazing.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised at how many items I found available to buy in shops. Eating out was a lot more difficult and I feel we were quite limited, but my lack of French speaking skills didn’t help this.
Unfortunately I did end up getting ‘glutened’ on this trip, by a bottle of wine we bought. So in future I will be avoiding the wines, however I would definitely recommend going for a place with a kitchen as there is lots available and I no longer fear the idea of going to France as a Coeliac!

Toulouse was architecturally interesting, and we loved walking around seeing the places. The fact that there was lots of places that sold gluten free items (even if only a couple of basics) was a huge plus.
In fact I found more convenience stores that sold a few cakes, breads etc here than back home.

The Hare At Roxwell

Eating Out

I’m on a mission this year to not get stuck in a rut with repeatedly eating at the same places, as I know they’re ‘safe’.

I came across reviews for The Hare on TripAdvisor. With numerous comments on how they catered for gluten free/coeliacs.

Seeing as it was a fairly local place, I decided to pay ‘The Hare’ a visit on a Sunday for dinner. I turned up on the off chance hoping that they would have a table available. 

First impressions of the pub were good! The pub is situation in a fab location, looking out over lots of fields. However it’s still located close to Chelmsford, so not in the middle of nowhere, and there was lots of parking.

Inside the pub it is well decorated with old chairs and cushions etc. Giving the whole pub a ‘comfortable’ country feel.

I mentioned that I was coeliac and needed a gluten free menu and was brought this:

The roast pork was my immediate choice, but I was pleasantly surprised to see all the items on offer.

There were a few things the waiting staff were a little unsure on, and had to go check with the chef but the seperate menu definitely made things easier.

Whilst waiting for dinner they brought out some warm gluten free bread

This is always a pleasant surprise when I get given an extra like this. Hopefully at some point, places will also have a dairy free butter alternative.

Next was the roast dinner:

Some delicious crackling, roast potatoes and pork.

I was extremely happy with my meal, and left full up and satisfied. Unfortunately there was no room to even look at the dessert menu.

But I did notice that they offer a range of gluten free breakfast items. Which I would definitely like to go back and try.

Overall a nice pub, with a variety of gluten free options.