This blog is to highlight that we cater for Gluten Free customers alongside many vegetarians, vegans and many other intolerances. Gluten allergy(coeliac) or intolerance has become more common and we are finding that we are catering for many, a lot more than I ever thought. The ages are surprising me as well as we are getting a range of ages from as young as 4 to someone in their 80s. Though many customers have decided that it is healthier option to go gluten free (their opinion only), some have an intolerance and some are highly allergic and must not have any contact what so ever with gluten. My niece, for example, has just been diagnosed as coeliac and must not eat any gluten at all.
Since starting, both Mark and I admit that we only knew the bare basics of allergies and diet requirements but wow, we have learnt so much. The only knowledge of gluten was learnt via a couple of our close friends,
I for a start, in charge of the allergens information, had to complete the allergens information sheets for the Environmental Health-which I am proud to say that we got a rating of 5. To do this meant a break down of ingredients then another breakdown. I must have driven poor Norman mad as I and someone who is an expert had to raid all packaging and Norman’s recipes and brains for every single ingredient. What’s in brandy and cooking wine? What’s in the soups? What’s the cheese sauce consist of? The thickening granules-they say may contain gluten. This is used in some sauces. Couscous has gluten. Even mustard! mustard powder is gluten free, however, mustard paste is not so gluten-free customers can not have ham as Norman coats the top of the ham joint in mustard. However, some customers only have an intolerance or choose to go gluten free so they are able to have the ham. Serious gluten-free customers can not touch the ham or go near it.
We have a couple of regular customers-you know who you are :). He asked if we did fish and chips. I immediately said no. Later that evening, I had a brainwave-why not? Gluten free flour and gluten free lager. We have a separate frier. I ran it past Norman and that was it. We launched the gluten free fish and chips. The said regular customer has since returned and I am happy to say he was chuffed to bits and the fish and chips were a hit. We have since served more.
Sunday lunches are also popular because we serve the regular meat, vegetables and roast potatoes but use gluten free gravy and Yorkshire puddings.
Starters and mains can be followed by deserts especially bought in as gluten free, for example, apple pie, apple and berry crumble or gluten free profiteroles. Norman also has gluten in mind and we use gluten free digestives as the biscuit base for all cheesecakes so most of our cheesecakes are gluten-free with the exception of the odd flavour. We also have gluten free shortbread to accompany the lemon posset or creme brulee.
So back to the beginning, we adapt our regular menu, for example, gluten free rolls, not add extras ie croutons, swap couscous with rice. Customers are free to ask and if our staff are not sure they will consult Norman or myself and if we still have doubt then we will always show the customer the ingredients. We never guess or assume. This is the same for all allergens and diets. Vegans, vegetarians, dairy to name but a few.
Gluten now is not as scary and I no longer dread being asked the question, what’s gluten free? We are happy to discuss and adapt to gluten. Always ask us and we can see what we can do. If we are unable to serve something at that particular time then maybe next time, for example, the fish and chips, we may be able to accommodate for the next time.