Anyone with allergies or intolerances knows how difficult and risky eating out can be. I have had many occasions over the past ten years where I have become ill after dining out – I have had a couple of times where I have been served cow’s milk in leading coffee houses after baristas ‘misheard’ me or didn’t pay full attention to what I was asking of them, causing me to have immediate reactions which left me feeling ill for days or sometimes weeks after.
The one thing I find hardest is when I get invited to restaurants by other people for special occasions – There have been many times when I have heard ‘Soph will come along but I’ve no idea what she’ll eat.’ I have found most restaurants to be fully understanding of my needs, but then there are some that offer a set menu which would bore me if I could eat properly, and the fact is for me to eat anything, I have to ask them to take everything nice off the plate and leave me with dry meat and a handful of lettuce on the side and quite frankly it saddens me that I have to then pay for this bland meal.
Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in restaurants offering gluten free menus. There has also been an increase in restaurants saying that they provide a gluten free menu, but then handing you a 10 page essay of the allergens contained in every meal on the menu upon arrival. (I had this happen to me recently at a well-known restaurant which didn’t impress me.)
This week, I got to try out the gluten free menu at a French restaurant named Le Bistrot Pierre in Stratford-upon-Avon. I have to admit I hadn’t really heard of the place until I accidently stumbled across it online, but I was really impressed with their extensive gluten free options and decided to give it a go with my friend.
I was handed the gluten free menu upon arrival and I ordered a lamb dish and calamari as I love squid, but am not allowed it due to it being cooked in wheat flour. A few minutes later however, the waitress came over to apologise as she had given me the evening menu instead of the lunchtime one, and so I changed my order to the Porc roti, a pan fried pork with caramelised apples and sage jus and she kindly allowed me to have my original order of calamari for the same price of two meals for £10.95, which was extremely reasonable.
The calamari was delicious, being cooked in a gluten free flour, the batter was slightly thinner than normal but it tasted fresh and had plenty of flavour even without the mayonnaise which I cannot eat. My main came out beautifully presented accompanied with vegetables and new potatoes and the taste was divine. My friend had ordered the same and the two looked identical in their presentation, the only difference being was that mine was served with a gluten free gravy sauce which was like none I have ever tasted. One of the best combinations I find is pork and apple, you just cannot eat pork without sneaking in a bit of apple flavouring and the two complimented each other perfectly. I honestly felt really happy to be able to eat such fantastic meals and not feel ill afterwards. On looking at their website, Le Bistrot Pierre do a gluten free Christmas menu in addition to an early bird one which I have already suggested trying out in December, as finding restaurants that do a decent allergy friendly Christmas dinner is difficult to find – I will definitely be reviewing that meal in a few weeks time.
At the end of the meal I was given a loyalty card with two stamps on it – if I collect nine stamps I am allowed a free 2-course meal on my tenth visit. I suppose I am up for a challenge after all and with such a delicious gluten free menu I think I will become a frequent visitor from now on.
The Stratford-upon- Avon restaurant is situated in a beautiful location opposite the river and is just a short walk away from the high street. I would highly recommend Le Bistrot Pierre to anyone visiting the area for both its gluten free and normal menu.