Monday, April 18, 2011

Gluten-free Lunch in London?

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London has no shortage of fast, trendy lunch restaurants. Pret A Manger and EAT are the most popular, but you’ll also find Upper Crust in railway stations. These fast-food shops grew out of the traditional sandwich shop, and sadly don’t offer much in the way of gluten-free fare. Pret A Manger’s salads are very good but don’t list the ingredients in the salad dressing. EAT go out of their way to tell you that almost everything HAS gluten in it. It’s almost like a sign that says COELIACS GO AWAY!

So where can you EAT lunch in London? The last thing you want to do while you’re on holiday is spend the whole time looking for a restaurant that understands your dietary requirements. If you do a little research beforehand, you’ll find that London loves you and your gluten-free ways.

On a typical day in London, you’ll walk by a Marks and Spencer (Marks and Sparks) two or three times. They’ve just launched a range of gluten-free sandwiches. If you’re not the sit-down type of luncher and prefer to grab a sandwich on your way to the Big Bus tour, pop by one of these stores and buy a sandwich. If you pass a Waitrose supermarket, you’ll find a gluten-free section with all sorts of goodies.

If you are the sit-down type of lunch person but you don’t want to spend your entire holiday budget in one day, you have to eat at Leon. In terms of concept, this restaurant is fast food; in terms of quality and menu, it’s high quality and tasty food.     
Healthy. Well prepared. And they indicate clearly which menu items are gluten-free with a big GF. There are lots of Leons, so there’s bound to be one near you.

Headed to Camden and Camden Lock Market? If it’s a sunny day, you should. In the middle of Camden Lock Market you’ll find Arepa & Co, a Venezuelan food stall that serves delicious cornbread filled with arepa, cheese, beans, avocado, plantains and other vegetarian ingredients. They state clearly that their bread is gluten-free. And it’s mouth-watering. While you’re in Camden, check out The Stag between Camden Town and Hampstead Heath. I’m told they have two gluten-free beers—although I’ve become a cider fan myself.

If you’re a foodie and you’ve come to London with your suitcases full of money, you have a few more options (as you always do, you rich bastard). Most fine-dining restaurants will go out of their way to accommodate you, but here’s one that I’ve just now found and can’t wait to lug my cash to its doors. L’Autre Pied don’t actually say anything about offering gluten-free fare on their website, but read this excellent review by The Gluten Free Foodie and I think you’ll be making your reservations before you can say sans gluten.

Other Gluten-free London posts:
From the Pub to the Ritz
Gluten-free on the Road
Dinner in London...Gluten-free

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type