Tag Archives: restaurants

Le Bistrot Pierre Review

16 Jun

I have been extremely keen to try out the Plymouth Branch of Le Bistrot Pierre since it opened at Royal William Yard recently.  The Plymouth restaurant is one of only ten branches in the country, and they prefer to call themselves a “family of individual restaurants” rather than a chain.  I’m unsure how many restaurants constitute being a chain, but we are clearly not talking about McDonald’s here.  Le Bistrot Pierre serve a range of French cuisine, and the good news for coeliacs and those following a gluten free diet is that they have a dedicated gluten free menu.  It’s good to see that their website also clearly states that they have been working closely with Coeliac UK.

The Royal William Yard is becoming something of a gluten free hot spot.  Le Bistrot Pierre is joined by Rover Cottage, Las Iguanas and Prezzo which all have gluten free offerings.  Friends of Gluten Free by the Sea Plymouth Greengrocer and Let Them Eat Cake can also be regularly found at the Sunday Good Food Markets.

MenuI’d heard good things about the food from several people, and when I was looking for somewhere to go out with my dad for lunch this week it seemed a perfect opportunity to give Le Bistrot Pierre a try.  There is a dedicated lunch menu, offering two courses for £10.50 and three courses for a bargain £12.50.  Evening meal prices whilst much more expensive are still reasonable in my opinion.

So on arrival at the restaurant we were seated and I was promptly presented with the gluten free menu.  I had a quick snoop at my dad’s menu to see what I was missing and the good news was that it was hardly anything!  The standard menu had a burger option and a few extra desserts and that was pretty much it.  Whilst we were pondering the menu some bread was delivered to the table.  I asked the waitress if it was gluten free and she informed it was not, and promptly went off to fetch some.  This was toasted and arrived a little while later with the starter.

SoupTo start I went for the soup of the day, which was carrot and coriander, which was served with gluten free bread.  There was a 95p supplement for this which was my sole niggle of the day, though the overall value of the meal was fantastic so I couldn’t really complain.  Le Bistrot Pierre have confirmed the bread is toasted under a grill in a clean tray to avoid contamination.  The soup was lovely and the bread was pretty good too, a decent start to the meal.  Dad went for a crayfish risotto which was also on the gluten free menu.

For the main course I decided to have pan-fried chicken breast with
creamed leeks, thyme and Parmesan.  There was a choice of fries, vegetables or a side salad with this.  I went for the fries as I find it is always hard to say no when given the chance of chips as a coeliac!  The chicken was cooked perfectly and had the skin on to enhance the flavour.  The sauce was excellent too and I really enjoyed the dish.  Meanwhile dad had gone for slow-braised Scottish pasture fed beef with shallots and Dijon mustard sauce (also available on the GF menu).  Whilst my main was great, I have to say I was suffering from a bit of food envy as dad’s braised beef looked amazing, as did the seasonal veg that he had chosen rather than the fries.


DessertWe pondered whether to have a dessert but it was only going to be an extra £2 each for another course so it seemed rude not to, and as dad pointed out I have readers to think about!  I kept it light and went for the hazelnut and chocolate mousse with crispy meringue and honeycomb.  This had a great rich chocolate flavour and the crunch of the meringue and honeycomb provided a nice contrast to the texture of the mousse.  I won’t tease you with a description of dad’s gluten filled finale, but suffice to say he did not struggle to polish it off!

We both really enjoyed the meal.  The service was great, the restaurant was nicely decorated and the Royal William Yard really is a great setting.  For £12.50 each we were both thoroughly impressed with all aspects of the meal, and this really was fantastic value.  We’ll definitely be going back in future.  If you live in Plymouth or any of the other locations that have a Le Bistrot Pierre, I can thoroughly recommend you give it a try.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Las Iguanas Review

18 May

I was keen to get out for a meal for Gut Feeling week, and I’ve also been keen to try out Las Iguanas since it opened in Royal William Yard in Plymouth recently.  So when my wife, Abby, mentioned her friend had invited us to Las Iguanas for her birthday meal I was more than a little excited!  I have always been a fan of Mexican so was keen to try out the “authentic South American food, made with passion, love and lots of Latin magic.”  Las Iguanas is a chain and you can find a list of restaurant locations here.

GFMenuThe good news is that they offer a separate gluten free menu.  I had previously visited one of the Bristol branches and whilst the menus were clearly labelled with the gluten free options, I’d never been offered the separate menu before, so I wasn’t sure if it existed other than on-line.  However, when we arrived we mentioned to the waitress that we (Abby was also gluten free as she is eating gluten free this week to help support Coeliac Awareness) needed to eat gluten free we were immediately presented with the GF menu.

On this occasion I decided to go straight for the main, and I had been eyeing up a certain dish all week.  The Feijoada de Puerco is apparently the proud national dish of Brazil.  Described on the menu as “A deep, dark, richly delicious stew of slowly braised beef, smoked pork & garlic chorizo, pork shoulder, red pepper & black beans in red wine. With spring onion, garlic & coriander rice, seasonal greens, orange wedges & a sprinkle of coconut crumbs”. Mouth watering yet?  I also went for a side of refried beans as I’d skipped the starter.

BrazilianStewAbby went for the Moqueca which was a squash based creamy coconut curry with rice and spinach.  Unfortunately the gluten free vegetarian options were very limited so she didn’t have a lot of choice.  It was slightly too spicy for her, though she doesn’t do spicy really.  I took advantage of a rare occasion that I could sample some of her food while we were out, and thought it as very tasty.  I have to say my dish was absolutely amazing.  So much flavour and I loved every mouthful, I’d definitely have it again.  The refried beans were good, but not a patch on Abby’s famous version!

dessertOf course despite being full I couldn’t only review one course so I went for a dessert too.  There was a choice of sorbet, ice-cream or a “Berry Mexican Mess” which was described as “A pretty pile up. Strawberries in hibiscus syrup, mascarpone, yoghurt & crushed meringue”.  I did have a quiet chuckle to myself after ordering when I suddenly thought “did I just order fruit for pudding?” but thankfully this was more like an Eton Mess and was delicious.  The hibiscus syrup was particularly tasty.

The dishes were always confirmed as gluten free as they were served without us needing to ask and that gave a level of confidence.  I am happy to say I suffered no reaction either.  Unfortunately anything fried was not on the gluten free menu which meant salad instead of chips with some of the dishes.  One disappointment was that the tortilla chips were not GF so there were no chips and dips to nibble on at the beginning of the meal.  They appeared to be made on-site so presumably this was a cross contamination issue in the way they were prepared.

The only other disappointing thing was that I had the car!  There were an amazing array of cocktails and tequilas flying around the table and I was very envious.  I would definitely like to come back for another go, and next time I will NOT be driving.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Pizza Express Gluten Free Review

3 May

Well this blog got somewhat known for it’s pizza reviews during the great gluten free pizza rush of 2012.  It’s been a while but Pizza Express have this week given me an excuse to write about (and of course eat!) gluten free pizza once more.  Last week I looked on enviously as some of my blogger friends attended the Pizza Express gluten free launch event.  There seemed to be universal great feedback, so I couldn’t wait to go out and give this a try myself when the new gluten free menu options were rolled out nationwide on April 30th.

GFBeerPizza Express have been working closely with Coeliac UK for a number of years to get this right, and have managed to get NGCI accreditation for their efforts.  Feedback from the launch event was that they were taking cross contamination extremely seriously, to the extent that Pizza Express have switched from wheat flour to gluten free flour to stretch out the dough for the regular pizzas.  This obviously drastically reduces any cross contamination risk and is an extremely impressive measure that they have taken.

The menu was clearly labelled with an NGCI symbol next to the gluten free choices.  I thought the menu was less clear though when it came to the pizza section.  It clearly stated a GF base was available and that most toppings were gluten free, though I had to query which ones I couldn’t have.  With regards cross contamination, Coeliac UK had this to say about Pizza Express in this month’s eXG email “They have been stringent in their approach to safety, introducing a rigorous training programme for team members, new equipment and even gluten-free flour in their restaurants, which will be used to stretch their regular bases.”

I’d phoned in advance to ensure that the gluten free bases were available, and the staff member I spoke to was fully aware of the new menu options and keen to tell me that they also offered gluten free brownie now.  When we arrived at the restaurant I was also pleased to see they had made a note that I needed to eat gluten free next to the booking.  Upon being seated the first thing I noticed was the gluten free brownie being advertised loud and clear, it gave a clear impression Pizza Express were proud of the changes and were not hiding it away in small print as I have seen others do.

First order of business was of course to get my hands on a gluten free beer!  Hats off to Pizza Express for providing this option, and it is good to see this attention to detail.  The beer itself was a pilsner from Greens, which was light and refreshing.  It is the first time I have seen the option of a gluten free beer with a meal in Plymouth so a big thumbs up.  I have to admit though I think I am a fully converted cider drinker now!  It was great to have the option though, and a nice novelty to have a beer.


On to the main event, and the pizza.  Nearly all the toppings are gluten free, the exceptions being meatballs, spicy beef and Gruyere and parmesan sauce.  I went for the American Hot with jalapeño peppers.  I was not disappointed.  The base itself was thin and crispy, and I know many of you who have tried the Domino’s base have commented on a preference for a thinner crust.  The taste and texture of the base were good and I was very pleased with my topping choices, full of flavour and a nice spicy kick from the peppers.  Overall very impressed.

GFBrownieI couldn’t really leave without sampling the gluten free brownie for you all now could I?  First thing to note is that the dessert is part of the Dolcetti range, meaning it is a “mini dessert” that comes with a coffee or tea.  Don’t expect a big portion here!  My wife did laugh at the size of the brownie, but I have to admit it was actually a nice size after demolishing a whole pizza.  The brownie itself was delicious, extremely rich and chocolatey and I was very impressed.

Whilst ordering I was made to feel very normal, like gluten free was no problem at all, and this is always a good experience.  The staff seemed genuinely interested in my thoughts and enquired a couple of times on my opinion of the food.  I was happy to report that I was thoroughly impressed with the whole meal and I would definitely go back for another go.

After my previous pizza reviews I tried to rank them, and I had Domino’s coming out on top.  I’ve been giving some thought as to where I would put Pizza Express in this list.  It’s a tough comparison, and a feel like it is kind of comparing apples and oranges.  Domino’s feels like a naughty takeaway, whereas Pizza Express has very much more of a restaurant feel to their pizza.  The flavour of the pizza at Pizza Express I would say was more sophisticated and the herbs used really added depth to the flavour in the toppings.  Truth be told, I will probably eat Domino’s more simply because of the takeaway and delivery options.  However, in terms of the toppings I think you’d have to lean towards Pizza Express.  Domino’s is a thicker pizza so it really is down to personal preference here, both bases are good in their own right, but if you prefer a thinner base I have no doubt you will prefer the Pizza Express offering.  I think I’ll call it a tie.

For Plymouth readers, there are two branches of Pizza Express in the city.  I visited the Derrys Cross restaurant, which can be found next door to another restaurant reviewed on this blog JD’s Grill.  The other branch can be found near the cinema within the Barbican Leisure Park.

For more information have a read of the excellent blogs at Little Missed Gluten and The Happy Coeliac.  Both are about the launch party and go into more depth about the cross contamination measures that are in place.  For those of you who suffer from further allergies and intolerances you can view Pizza Express’ full allergy information here.  I’d definitely recommend coeliacs and fellow gluten freers giving Pizza Express a go, please comment below with your feedback if you’ve given it a try already.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea.

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