Tag Archives: burger

Holland’s Diner Gluten Free Review

29 Sep

Update: Sadly Holland’s Diner has now closed and ceased trading

Well would you believe this is the 100th post on Gluten Free by the Sea?!  Hard to believe really that the blog has come so far from such small beginnings.  I must apologise that things have been a little quiet lately, I’m facing impending redundancy after 16 years in my current job so real life has had to be given some priority unfortunately.  So if anyone knows of any IT jobs going in Plymouth then please give me a shout!

Anyway, back to gluten free talk.  It seems like an age since I’ve added a new restaurant review, so it’s good to be able to add one for another local independent that is taking gluten free seriously.  I first heard from Chris and Tracy Holland back in March.  They informed me they were working hard to open a new retro American diner called Holland’s Diner, that would be based in Frankfurt Gate, Plymouth.  The good news was that Tracy and Chris were planning on offering extensive gluten free options.

As always my first question to them was about cross contamination.  Tracy’s reply gave me great confidence that they would be taking this extremely seriously.  If only we could get replies like this from all restaurants:

Yes we are aware of the cross contamination issues. We have coeliacs in the family – in fact my mum is coeliac and my son has a gluten intolerance. I am a qualified nurse and nursed many coeliacs during over twenty years in the profession.  Chris and I have spent many hours trying to plan the kitchen area to ensure there is no risk of cross contamination. We have separate prep areas, storage areas and cooking equipment specifically for the GF foods. We also plan to colour code everything to help staff, I have also prepared a simple teaching booklet to give all our staff a greater understanding of the disease and the implications of cross contamination. The reason we are so keen to provide the GF options comes from our own experiences of the limited options for coeliacs and the difficulty in families being able to eat together without worry. We will be offering our coeliac customers the chance to view the kitchen procedures so they can see for themselves that we know what we are doing!

In May Tracy and Chris took a table at the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group AGM and came along to show those present their proposed gluten free menu, and talked to people about their upcoming venture.  They also brought along their Wurlitzer jukebox to help give a feel of the retro look that would be the theme of the diner.  After seeing all the photos of the hard work that was going into getting the diner ready on their Facebook page, it was good to see the hard work rewarded with a grand opening in June.

Holland's Front

I’m not quite sure how it has taken me so long to get there, but the universe has seemed to get in the way on a few previous attempts to get my hands on a big gluten free burger.  However, this week a colleague was down from Exeter and we were looking for somewhere to have a late lunch.  At last the perfect opportunity!  So on Thursday, gluten eating colleagues Rich, Chris and Jill joined me for a meal at the diner.  Tracy and Chris have certainly achieved the desired retro theme, and the walls are covered with memorabilia.  The padded diner booths also looked great.  There’s also an outside eating area too.

Holland's Inside

I’d already checked the menu on their website in advance, and it was good to see the gluten free options marked.  The site also contains a page detailing the diner’s gluten free procedures.  The menus in the restaurant are also clear on the gluten free options, and in most cases GF options are available unless otherwise stated.  There are also some GF dessert options available, supplied by the previously reviewed Ladybird Bakery.  They are supplying apple pie, cherry pie and pancakes.  It’s good to see that local suppliers are being used, with all meat sourecd from local butchers.

Holland's CiderFirst things first though, having just finished interviewing for our own jobs we were keen for a stiff drink!  I was extremely intrigued to see a blueberry cider on the menu so it was a no brainer to give this a try, as did everyone apart from poor old Rich who had to drive.  Thumbs up all round on this one.  There’s also a strawberry cider on the menu which no doubt I’ll try in future.  The cider is made by a company called Hornsby’s Cider whose Anglo American roots seem to be a good fit with the diner.

Holland's Burger

As for the food, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of a gluten free burger in a bun with chips any time soon.  There’s a good selection of burgers and from a gluten free stand point there’s barely anything to miss out on.  I opted for the Chrysler, a  half pound burger, salad, mayonnaise, Monterey jack cheese, topped with Holland’s chilli sauce.  The quality of the burger itself was excellent, really satisfyingly meaty (sorry Abby!), and the gluten free bun was extremely good too.  The chilli sauce gave great flavour, but due to the amount of sauce/mayo and salad I had to commit the cardinal sin and knife and fork it.  Oh the shame!  Overall the Chrysler was great and the chips were good too so I really enjoyed the meal.  The only downside was I was too stuffed to try any of the puds.

I’m pleased to report I suffered no ill effects from the meal.  It’s great to have another safe option to eat out gluten free in Plymouth, especially from an independent.  I should also say that our waitress gave us great service too and I’m sure this will not be my last visit.  If you’re a music fan also keep an eye out for their live music events.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Burger Time at JD’s Grill

18 Jan

Now if there’s one thing I miss since being diagnosed coeliac, it’s being able to easily feast on a big fat burger.  Given my wife is vegetarian, it’s not something I really make at home unless we are having a barbecue.  Having been to the fabulous Honest Burgers in London I have been dreaming of finding somewhere in Plymouth that will do a burger of that quality, and more importantly a gluten free one.

Last year I saw a tweet that a new restaurant called JD’s Grill was opening in Plymouth, “Serving delicious gourmet burgers and American influenced food”.  As usual I did my bit and tweeted them to see if they would be offering gluten free options.  They replied to say that they were offering gluten free bread for their burgers.  I recently followed this up with an email to investigate further.  They replied that they were still offering gluten free bread, and the burgers were gluten free though they couldn’t guarantee that “that the spices etc that we use in our recipe have not been cross contaminated in the factoring process”.  However, they kindly offered to make me my very own burger leaving out any spices that were a risk.  When my wife spotted a bargain Group On offer (two meals and two drinks for £10) we decided to give it a go.

JDs Burger

Once seated I mentioned I was gluten free and they immediately knew who I was which was a very reassuring start.  The Group On offer included a beer, but they happily swapped this out for a cider.  There is quite an array of toppings for the burgers on the menu, though I went for a classic choice of cheese and bacon to top my half pound burger!  The person who served us explained that their gluten free buns had unfortunately disintegrated in the freezer (well we’ve all had problems with disintegrating GF bread!) and they were struggling to find a good gluten free bun supplier.  However they did have gluten free bread in.  Not quite the same, but I appreciated the effort as most places simply will offer you the burger minus the bun anyway.  Unfortunately I was advised I couldn’t have the chips, but the wedges were gluten free.

I really enjoyed the burger.  It was really flavourful and it was a quality burger, I didn’t feel like I was missing out with the other spices taken away at all.  The gluten free bread was also good and at least let me demolish this burger with my hands in traditional fashion!  The chunky potato wedges were good too and were a fine substitute for chips.  My gluten eating vegetarian wife went for the sweet potato burger with wedges and was also impressed.  The portion sizes were great and certainly no skimping here.  Some of the orders we saw coming passed our table were obscenely big.  JD’s also run a Man vs Food style “Goliath Challenge” too for those who are into that kind of thing.  Half a pound of delicious meet was enough for me though.  With the Group On making it only a tenner for two great meals and two drinks it was fantastic value.

JDs Sundae

Onto dessert and as the waiter passed me the menu he informed me that all the Sundaes were gluten free without me asking.  This was the third person who served us during the evening and all three were aware of my requirements when they came to the table.  I was really impressed with this.  I went for a butterscotch tower which went down well even though I was already completely full.  Well I couldn’t really do a review without sampling a dessert.  Again a very ample portion size.

So overall I was impressed.  The staff couldn’t do enough for us all night and were very friendly and accommodating to my requirements, and the fact they had specially prepared a burger for me was very impressive.  The quality of the food was very good and I’d have happily paid the normal price of £8.95 for the burger.  So was it as good as Honest Burgers?  Well no it wasn’t, but that is very high bar to reach.  The quality of the burger is up there, but Honest is just that bit easier on the gluten free side.  I’ll definitely be heading back to JD’s for more though.

So if JD’s were interested in becoming the gluten free burger Mecca that Honest is in London, here’s how I think they could improve:

  • As much as I really appreciated them going out of their way to make me a special burger, if they could source gluten free spices it would make it easier for both JD’s and the gluten free customer
  • Find a way to make the fries gluten free.  I know the fries are done in a separate fryer so this shouldn’t be too difficult
  • Most importantly find a good gluten free bun supplier.  Maybe Plymouth Greengrocer could provide a solution here as they are currently trialling these

If they really wanted to push the gluten free boat out then they could get in a gluten free beer such as Celia, and maybe consider marking the items on the menu with a GF.  This would be especially helpful with the toppings.  OK I’m just being greedy now.  So a thank-you to Dave for organising the gluten free burger for me, and all the staff for looking after me on my visit.  As Arnie would say, I’ll be back.

If you are planning on making a visit you can email JD’s Grill at info@jds-grill.co.uk in advance to discuss gluten free requirements.  See here for further offers.

Update 25/06/13: I’ve been back for another visit, and this time I got a gluten free bun!  Check out this photo of my AMAZING 1/2 pound burger with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and Monterey jack cheese. Even better than the previous visit and service equally as good too.

2013-06-24 19.31.51

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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