I took the boys for a posher-than-normal-for-a-Wednesday pub tea before we went to see the excellent Fantastic Mr Fox at the Lyceum. I booked a table online and put in the comments that 2 of us were gluten free, and when I arrived, I was really impressed that the waiter showing us to our table was fully prepared with a pair of gluten free menus. So points for organisation and extra points for having a separate gluten free menu with plenty of choices. Great start.
Boy 1 mad a beeline for the mussels starter, which seemed a bit extravagant for weeknight tea but we decided to share them. I was just a bit disappointed when they came topped with two pieces of lightly toasted sliced white. Particularly as I saw a non-gf version go past a bit later with two hunks of crusty bread. There are plenty of options for rolls, baguettes etc. out there!
Having said that, the mussels were great, with a nice sauce that we enjoyed dipping.
I then had a salad from the ‘Light Mains’ section. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t do it much justice. It looked lovely and was full flavour. At the bottom was a big smear of beetroot humous, there were plenty of asparagus spears, and the salad was packed with beetroot, quinoa and rice. I even enjoyed the leaves – so often salads come with bitter tasting leaves, which I can’t stand.
This was really filling and I’d definitely order it again. The chicken was an addition, but you could have the salad on its own or with with smoked salmon or feta.
Boy 1 opted for the chicken burger on a brioche style bun with a portion of fries. The waiter wasn’t sure if the ketchup was gluten free so he went to the kitchen to check, which was reassuring.
The burger looked and tasted great, although again, I thought the bread brought it down slightly. It was just a bit too chewy really and the meaty filling needed something a bit softer around it. (Actually, I reckon the brioche bun would have been great to dip into the mussels sauce.)
We still had plenty of time before the theatre so we even fitted in a pudding. We shared a slice of chocolate tart (as they were out of brownie). This was made with a rich ganache and a good pastry, and the ice cream was topped with honeycomb sprinkles, which went down well. All in all, a good pud!
So, how can I sum it all up?
It’s great to see another chain making so much effort with a separate gluten free menu and some interesting choices. The staff were helpful and friendly. I felt confident in what we ordered because of the Coeliac UK accreditation, so I would definitely go back. I just hope the guys in the food sourcing department can take another look at the bready aspects of the gluten free offer – a few tweaks would really lift it up.
I know that the big issue with gluten free bread is that it’s not as good as the real thing, but there are decent products out there, and they’re getting better all the time.
Browns, St Paul’s Chambers, 8-12 St Paul’s Parade, Sheffield