Côte Brasserie: A Coeliac UK Accredited Gem (Invite)

While eating out for gluten free folk in the UK is becoming easier in terms of the variety of options available, places that adhere strictly to standards safe enough for coeliacs are still a rarity. UK chain Côte Brasserie is one of those exceptions, and is fully accredited by Coeliac UK. To celebrate Coeliac UK Awareness week, the team at Côte invited me along to try their extensive gluten free menu with some of my wonderful gluten free friends. I have always been a fan of this restaurant, which offers up traditional and modern French dishes with a twist. Côte has recently however revamped its gluten free offerings and even now has a dedicated Gluten Free Prestige set menu so coeliacs need not feel left out of the two and three course deals offered in all branches.

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While perusing the menu, we ordered a selection of mixed olives and saucisson sec to start, which paired perfectly with Côte’s wonderfully crisp sparkling wine Blanc de Blancs Brut. I then opted for the Prawn Gratinee as a starter: king prawns baked in a white wine, garlic, chilli and tomato sauce. This came with a serving of gluten free toast on the side and was one of the most delicious starters I have had in a restaurant for quite some time – not least because of the blue gluten free flags that came in the dish to indicate that this was indeed coeliac safe! My friend Jessie and I also shared a chicken parfait, which came with a serving of cornichons, spiced apple chutney and more gluten free bread, toasted to perfection.

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For my main, I could not resist ordering a fillet steak, recommended to me by the manager. Perfectly cooked, the steak was served with a generous portion of Côte’s trademark coeliac safe fries and truffle hollandaise sauce. To add a touch of greenery to our meal, Jessie and I also ordered some creamed spinach and French beans to accompany our meal. Again, our meals came with gluten free flags intact, allowing us to be fully relaxed without having to ask the usual twenty questions that follow the arrival of food for most gluten free diners.

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What’s important to note about Côte is that you will need to save room for dessert. Forget the usual single ice cream option all of us gluten free diners are far too familiar with in most restaurants – Côte offers a great selection including Creme Brulee, chocolate compote, crumble and more. I finally decided on the mixed summer berries with warm white chocolate sauce, which I would quite happily eat everyday if I could.
To conclude, I urge you all to head to Côte as soon as you can to see for yourselves just how wide a variety they have on offer for gluten free diners. If you have any other dietary requirements, intolerances or allergies, Côte will also go above and beyond to ensure you eat well and safely. Thank you again to the team for taking such good care of us – we all can’t wait to come back!

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We dined at the Soho branch of Côte Brasserie on Wardour Street. Tables bookable on the company website and on Quandoo.

Ardiciocca: A 100% Gluten Free Trattoria Experience in Fulham

London’s ever-expanding gluten free scene is full of Italian food. Pizzas, pastas and more can often be found in gluten free form at restaurants across the city. Italian restaurants that cater entirely to gluten free diners are however, still a novelty. 100% gluten free trattoria Ardiciocca opened up shop three months ago in Fulham and has since remained a hidden gem – well until now.

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Ardiciocca is the latest project from Roberto Costa and the group behind Macellaio RC, which owns four other Italian restaurants in London and one in Milan. The goal for the new Fulham eatery was simple – Costa wanted to make the “comforting, homely” recipes of his childhood available to everyone – not just gluten eaters. The menu lends itself to simple and delicious flavours, many of which will instantly make you feel like you’re on vacation in Italy, as opposed to southwest London.

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With a chilled glass of Prosecco in our hands, we took our pick from the eclectic selection of starters, settling not on one, but three small plates to share between us. The mussel and potato croquettes instantly caught my eye in the typical way that a gluten free person is drawn to breaded, deep fried treats after lengthy periods without. While the croquettes were crispy, warm and bursting with flavour, I couldn’t help but think how a light aioli would have completed the dish. We also chose the salami, broad bean, pecorino cheese and fresh bread plate – the star of the show of which was most certainly the salami, dominated by a strong truffle flavour. I was incredibly impressed by the homemade bread, which was served warm from the oven. My dinner date Mateja also insisted on trying the brain – a delicacy which came fried in light crispy batter.

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Ardiciocca has a wide array of main dishes to choose from, which go way beyond the traditional pizza/pasta offering of many Italian eateries. These range from pickled fried mackerel to sausage stew and homemade hearty minestrone. However, we simply could not resist giving the Sardinian gnocchi and sausage ragú a go, as well as the Nduja pizza – the dough of which is made with gluten free flour and Ferrarelle water before it is left to rise for 72 hours. The ragú was perfectly seasoned and incredibly moreish, leaving me wishing for a second bowl. The pizza crust was thin and light, and topped with flavourful passata, creamy mozzarella and spicy sausage, the kick from which was neutralised softened slightly by the addition of fresh lemon and rocket.

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While we had next to no room left for dessert, I could not pass up the opportunity to sample the basil infused panna cotta – a flavour combination I had never seen on a menu before. It was tangy and refreshing, served with a drizzle of Italian honey on the side. The homemade chocolate torte is also definitely worth a try, only lacking in a side dollop of creme fraiche or gelato, which I’ll be sure to request next time I go.

Anyone in Fulham and beyond must not miss out on the opportunity to eat here for a meal full of flavour, tradition and excellent service to boot. Don’t forget to try a different glass of Italian wine with each course – you won’t be sorry!

Ardiciocca

461-465 North End Road

Fulham

London SW6 INZ

020-3848-6830

(Tables Bookable via email or telephone)

Coori Free From

As my favourite gluten free brand Coori gets ready to open its new shop in Richmond, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you more about their story and how they came to be the household name that they are today. Many of you will know Coori from their 2013 pop-up in Selfridges Food Hall, which was the pioneer for gluten free space in the famous London department store and is now occupied by London bakery Beyond Bread. Coori closed its concession after several months, leaving customers eagerly anticipating its next move after almost ten years on the gluten free market in various shapes and forms. Others may remember Coori from the large scale Allergy and Free From Show which comes to London’s Olympia every year, where the team would prepare fresh stonebaked pizzas for the masses.

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I first came across Coori (which means heart in Sicilian dialect) when I moved to Tooting in south west London, several years ago. One day walking through my new local market I did a double take when I saw a small hand-written “100% gluten free” sign and realised that fresh pasta was being cooked and arancini being rolled, ready for the fryer. It was then that I met founder Julia, a gluten free scene veteran and cook, who was testing Tooting out as a pop-up space.

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Born and raised in Italy, Julia had always been exposed to good, simple cooking. However, when her sister was diagnosed with coeliac disease and Julia discovered she was gluten intolerant, her interest in food took a different turn and she leapt on what she saw as an opportunity to fill a huge gap in the market. “I wanted to take things back to the basics and start over with gluten free food,” Julia told me in an interview, as we sat enjoying a classic, and naturally gluten free Italian dessert: affogato. “Not only would creating good simple food for coeliacs make people happy, but it would help change perceptions of gluten free products, which for a long time were lacking in flavour and yet packed with additives and excessive amounts of sugar,” Julia said. This mindsight, as well as help and support from Coeliac UK, led Julia to open up a restaurant in 2008 – Bruschetta – in Kingston. The restaurant specialised in Italian classics like pasta and pizza, which back then were still a huge novelty.

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Julia commened that when she launched, she did not initially advertise the restaurant as gluten free, to test out her food on doubting customers. “I invited restaurant critics, journalists and bloggers to try my food without saying it was gluten free. After they ate it, I revealed that what they had just feasted on contained to no wheat, barley or rye and they couldn’t believe it,” she said. Julia continued to work on products and food that not only appealed to those unable to eat gluten, but to a wider audience who simply craved good food made from high quality ingredients. Julia soon became well-known in the gluten free community and after several years, switched her focus to manufacturing, which aided the launch of the company’s online business.

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Coori online began to ship pasta, flour mixes, sweet treats and more across the UK, quickly becoming a booming venture not only in London but in the north of the UK, where a staggeringly high percentage of coeliacs live. Julia still remains dedicated to working with a range of manufacturers, both in the UK and in her home country, to keep the company both localised and true to her own heritage. What makes Coori individual however, is that all recipes are created by Julia herself and then recreated by the manufacturer, as a means of keeping the business, which is headed up by Julia and her two close friends and business partners, “very much a family affair.”

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As business boomed, Coori was able to grow its customer base and venture into new fields, including the catering industry and department store scene. The pop-up at Selfridges was revolutionary. It drew in both gluten free customers desperate to try tantalising fresh pasta with a range of sauces or pizza slices fresh out of the oven, but also people without any particular dietary requirements. “The queues were always made up of a mixture of people, most of whom I quickly recognised as returning, happy customers,” Julia told me, adding that working in a customer facing environment is her real passion. “Seeing people come in on a daily basis and almost cry at the array of safe food they could choose from was really the highlight for me,” Julia said.

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However, after several happy months it was time for Coori to move on and focus on securing its own space again, now that it had so much backing and a fantastic reputation to boot. The new store, which will occupy an old local dairy dating back to 1980, will have a very similar offering to the Selfridges stall. Customers will be able to take their pick from an array of hot and cold snacks, meals and packaged food both prepared by Coori itself and by collaborating brands, including Italy’s Nutri-Free. Please join me in supporting this wonderful company, as it embarks on an exciting and utterly delicious new chapter.

Coori’s Richmond Cafe will open its doors to the public on June 2, 2018.

84 Hill Rise
Richmond
TW10 6UB

Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs