Gluten free at The Beeches, Bournville

As any ‘free-fromers’ know, going out for a three course gluten free meal is usually impossible. Although restaurant’s are gradually becoming better at providing for people with allergies and intolerances, there is rarely a time when we are presented with a menu with an array of delicious choices on offer, including the all-important puds!

A friend of mine had informed me that The Beeches in Bournville had recently started doing a gluten free menu and of course, being just up the road from me, I stopped by to sample what was on offer.

I have to admit, when it comes to eating out I’m never quite sure what to expect when knowing that gluten free is on offer. There have been many times when I have been told that a restaurant can cater for my needs, only to be presented with the standard 40 page allergy listing, stapled together printout.

I was pleasantly surprised however, when I was given an identical menu to my friend upon arrival, the only difference being, that my menu clearly stated what was gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian. I’m sure anyone on special diets can vouch for how great it is to be given an extensive choice of dishes to choose from rather than just steak and spud, or the all-time favourite ‘croutonless’ salad.

For one of the first times since becoming gluten free, I was spoiled for choice. Although being dairy free the starters and puds were still off limits, I have to admire the effort that has gone into creating such a long list of gluten free meals, all of which sounded absolutely delicious.

I was pondering whether to have the Cajun red snapper or trio of beef, but in the end I decided on the crispy grilled confit duck leg with pak choi, beetroot, baby onion and red berry glaze and I have to say, I was not disappointed in my choice.

The portion size was very generous and the dish was presented beautifully, with the onions dotted around the duck and the potato served in a circular shape to add to the appeal. The sauce served alongside the duck was delicious and not too heavy for my liking. In fact, I admit to using the sauce to dunk my chunky chips into that I had greedily ordered as a side dish.

The menu stated that dishes such as the chicken liver and chorizo pate with chilli jam, as well as soup of the day could be served with gluten free bread which is a real treat. All of the side dishes were gluten free and puddings included crème brulee and strawberry cream trifle, which of course I would have happily tucked into if I wasn’t also excluding dairy.

With a choice of grilled dishes, pub classics, salads and pastas on offer, I really don’t think anyone visiting The Beeches would be stuck for things to eat as there really is something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.  I would love to go back and taste test many of the other dishes on offer and I would recommend to anyone visiting the Bournville area, as not only it is just a short walk away from Cadbury’s World, but the staff clearly know how to cater for special diets.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s gluten free menu

Let’s be honest here, any person out there with a wheat intolerance or Coeliac’s would probably admit to really craving a burger every now and then, especially after being out on the town all night. Horrible as it may seem, a great big greasy beef burger is probably one of the only things giving you the strength to not pass out in the middle of a pavement at 5am as you stumble back from the clubs (never happened to me *cough cough*)

However, as free from foods have expanded, so have our options to eat out at restaurants catering in what we would always have considered ‘no-go’ areas, i.e. Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Since finding out that BFree, one of my favourite gluten free companies on the market, was supplying its cobs to this nationwide burger chain, I had to go along to my local restaurant to find out what all the fuss was about. I am proud to say I did so by ordering the biggest burger on the gluten free menu – The Mighty.

Consisting of not one but two juicy beef burgers cooked to my liking of medium rare, served with crispy bacon and omitting the cheddar cheese and mayo as I am also dairy free, my feast looked like a postcard picture of what the advertising campaign for McDonald’s burgers looks like. Although fortunately for me, this burger did not disappoint in flavour as a McDonald’s burger would.

The one problem I did have was luckily through no fault of the restaurant. I had the unfortunate task of trying to keep the BFree bap and burger partnered together throughout the duration of my scoffing. I guess you have to prepare yourself for the setbacks when you decide to be a greedy guts and order two burgers on a bap which is only designed to structurally support one. Yes the bread did disintegrate a little as I was eating due to the pure weight of the burger, but the normal cob that my friend was eating also did the same, so I can’t entirely blame the crumbly consistency solely on it being gluten free.

Sadly, I couldn’t sample the chips as they weren’t gluten free and I have to admit it would have been nice if they could have been included within the price of the burger that my friend ordered, as the meal was quite expensive for just a burger alone.

The other major plus point about Gourmet Burger Kitchen is that they sell Celia organic and gluten free beer. Personally I miss being able to drink a nice cold beer when dining out and I think this adds to the attraction of the restaurant.

I do believe there are improvements to be made – most notably I think chips or salad should be included as a free side dish, and I was not particularly pleased about being charged for the salsa sauce that I ordered as a condiment.

Also, I ordered the priciest option but looking at the other diners burgers, I think that they are relatively small when taking into consideration the price. Maybe I am judging based on my experience of American portion sizes, but in my opinion I just believe that if you are a restaurant solely specialising in burgers, they should have that ‘wow’ factor when they arrive at your table.

Overall though, I had a relatively good experience of this restaurant and would recommend to any gluten free person out there wanting a burger restaurant. Controversial maybe, but I think that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is the burger equivalent of Nando’s, you’ll either love it or hate it.