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.

Gallacher’s – Leigh on sea

Eating Out

Whilst trawling through places online that say they can cater gluten free, I came across Gallacher’s smokehouse bar and grill.

Having read the reviews for the place I was quite excited to go and check it out.

Parking could potentially be an issue depending on times, as it is based on the main road. Going fairly late in the evening, during the week, there was no issues.


Turning up to the place we thought it was closed, as it didn’t look very open. However walking in we were greeted with a nicely decorated place and friendly waiting staff.

The menu was all in one, with a big sign stating that the majority of their meals are gluten free. There were a few things that were not, but they said that they could change things slightly so I could have even more.


After perusing the menu (for quite a long time) I decided upon their classic burger with bacon and baby back ribs (without their normal sauce and done in hoisin sauce) all in a gluten free bun.

The food came out well presented, and looked delicious. To make things even better, it tasted as good as it looked (if not more so)


The chips were really good, and the burger, ribs and bacon combo were fantastic. It was also amazing to get a gluten free bun that held together and didn’t just disitegrate in my hands.

I will most certainly be going back, and many times at that.


The Wooden Fender – Colchester

Eating Out

A hunt for gluten free places produced ‘The Wooden Fender’.

Located in Colchester Road, Ardleigh, Colchester. The Wooden Fender was not too difficult to get to, or find. They had a large car park, and so parking was not an issue.

Inside the pub there were some old features that gave the place character. Everybody working in there seemed very friendly.

A separate gluten free menu was quickly brought over, with lots of different options. There were even options for a bread basket or bread and dipping oils!

Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very hungry, so I opted for just a main course. A few of the options were not possible to do dairy free. However the sausages and mash were possible.

I was a little concerned that I was going to end up with some cheap free from sausages and dry mash. What I got brought were some amazing sausages. Bursting with flavour and meat. Delicious mash, and lots of flavoursome gravy.

The plate was very deceptive, and definitely held a lot more food than I originally thought. I left one very happy, and full coeliac!


Vegas – Fish & Chips – Hunstanton

Eating Out


Meals out for those of us who are Coeliacs or gluten free can be a nightmare, eating out ‘on the go’ is even worse.

Fast food is not something that tends to come with many options for dietary requirements. So you can imagine my surprise whilst trawling through trip advisor reviews to come across a fish and chip shop said to be great for coeliacs. Naturally, I had to go and see for myself.

After the long search for the place, I was a bit taken aback that it looked like any standard seaside fish and chip shop. No obvious signage at their ability to cater for me. I was not expecting much. Upon walking in there was an allergen list by the door.

I then went and spoke to a staff member who was extremely helpful. I opted for a portion of chips and a battered sausage, all of which are done in separate fryers (with a gluten free batter) to ensure they’re gluten free.

To top off the gluten free order, they offered me gluten free vinegar!

I was so impressed by this place. Well worth a trip up to Norfolk to enjoy a good Coeliac friendly fish and chips, by the sea.



The Lion – Leavenheath

Eating Out, Gluten free

Being a coeliac and dairy intolerant, can make eating a complete pain what with having to find food that is gluten, wheat and dairy free.

Quite often restaurants say they can cater for me, but when it comes to it. I end up with a normal dish minus all the gluten containing ingredients (often leading to some rather dull meals)

Being a big food lover, I am always on the hunt for places that go above, and beyond expectations for those with dietary requirements. The Lion is definitely one of those places. Set in lots of beautiful countryside, not too far from Colchester, it is one of the best places I have been to as a Coeliac.

Booking a table is nice and easy, with being able to do it by phone or online on their website. If booking online there is a section where I wrote coeliac and dairy intolerant.

Turning up, there is lots of parking and a separate bar to get a drink whilst you wait.

Every time I have been to the lion, I have had a lovely chap (believe he must be owner/landlord) who has given me the gluten free menu and then gone through each dish and explained what I could have, or what could be changed to make it dairy free. He knows every bit of his menu and exactly what it contains, really makes you feel relaxed that there isn’t going to be some ‘forgotten’ gluten ingredient.


I still find it bizarre to have so much to choose from, and it’s definitely a novelty to not just have the option of a steak or a salad!

Every dish I have had here has been beautifully presented, and tasted just as good as it looked. There is nothing I can find fault with. With food and service being spot on.

There’s even dessert options which is fantastic, if there is room left after starters and mains!


Absolutely brilliant pub, and fantastic for a coeliac, to have somebody who knows their menu so well whigh really dodd gI’ve confidence in eating there.

A place I will continue to go to, and one I wouldn’t fail to recommend.