Eating Out with Food Allergies in Liverpool
Ray and I arrived in Liverpool on the weekend of the Liverpool v Arsenal match and the Beatles Festival, s o the city was buzzing – even more so when Liverpool won! To mark the Beatles Festival, on the Euston to Liverpool train journey, Virgin Trains www.virgintrains.co.uk played Beatles music in the refreshment car, handed out free ‘Beatles’ cakes (which we couldn’t eat unfortunately) and Beatles’ quizzes.
We were unable to answer many questions, but found out the answers from one of our friends later on.
We didn’t see much evidence of the Beatles Festival – apart from this car – although we were told there was a programme of events at The Cavern.
On our first day we chanced upon a wedding party dancing in the Exchange Flags square of Liverpool Town Hall to this colourful jazz band. It was such fun, so exuberant and lively – really summing up the Liverpudlian scouse ambience! Passersby filmed and took pictures of the event without anyone minding!
For a quick lunch, we found Pret http://www.pret.co.uk near the Victoria monument, near Liverpool One https://www.liverpool-one.com/ the vast shopping and leisure complex. Ray ate his usual pole and line caught tuna baguette, removing all the cucumber slices as he can’t eat them. I opted for the colourful Cali-Style Salmon Salad, a mix of brown rice and red quinoa, mango, mint and chilli, as well as smashed avocado and edamame soya beans topped with salon. Delicious.
We noticed a new offering at this branch of Pret – Smashed Avocado on Pret’s gluten free bread. It looked appetising and I will try this another time – although it does say it contains oats. Other varieties include Chicken Caesar and Smashed Avo. Good to see Pret introducing gluten free bread options.
Exploring the Liverpool One complex, with its incredible range of shops, we noticed several random pianos positioned at various locations. What a great idea as it encourages talented members of the public to entertain us all by tinkling the ivories – we didn’t hear one bad note! If you’re a budding piano player, you can pre-book your slot on the Liverpool One web site.
Another observation was seeing several women wearing their rollers while shopping, in the street, in restaurants and so on. We found this very strange indeed and wondered what the reason for this was. Perhaps they are trying to start a new trend.
That evening we returned to one of our favourite restaurants in Liverpool - Kasbah http://www.kasbahcafebazaar.co.uk/ a Moroccan restaurant in Bold Street, where you can wear a fez if you want! Here I enjoyed Tagine Lala Moulati, a gluten free and vegan tagine with butternut squash, aubergines, chickpeas and apricots – truly scrumptious! Ray wasn’t in the mood for a tagine, so instead opted for the lamb chops, which were succulent and tender – and an astonishingly large portion!
This time we stayed at Hotel Indigo https://www.hotelindigo.com It is a stone’s throw from Liverpool Town Hall www.liverpooltownhall.co.uk (pictured above) and a short walk from Liverpool One. It is a smart looking hotel with excellent facilities, as well as the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, although we didn’t dine there this trip. The hotel also offers a regular supply of free water and soft drinks in the guest room mini bar.
At breakfast, the staff looked after our dietary requirements well, especially Sue, who is a coeliac and so understood our situation. I had contacted the hotel in advance and asked for gluten free bread and soya milk. Happily Ray was able to enjoy a full English breakfast after Sue had checked there was no dairy in the sausage or black pudding. I was able to have bacon, mushrooms and tomato (I can’t eat eggs). I was impressed by the gluten free bread, which is baked on the premises. It’s moist, doughy, flavoursome and crucially it didn’t crumble or collapse when spread with marmalade. It was provided already toasted. The buffet was well stocked with juices, cold meat, a wide array of fruit, chopped dates, maple syrup, nuts, seeds, jams and preserves. Ray particularly liked the sourdough bread, which he toasted.
That evening, we met with friends at Othello’s Greek restaurant in Gateacre Park Drive www.othellos.co.uk a fun, friendly place, where we enjoyed platters of hummus (they supplied crudites for me as I couldn’t eat the bread) and kebabs – I chose the chicken kebab, while Ray had the lamb kebab – both served with rice and salad.
Bold Street in Liverpool is almost like “Restaurant Row” because there’s such a choice of eateries. One of the best discoveries during this trip was Maray https://www.maray.co.uk/ in Bold Street (although there are also branches in Allerton and Albert Dock).
Maray is innovative in its approach to food intolerances and allergies because it provided us with a small iPad where you can filter the menu for allergens (for all 14 allergens not just gluten and milk) and see which of the dishes on the menu you can eat. It’s a very clever idea and every restaurant should have one. The ethos of the restaurant is serving small plates of food, inspired by the flavours of the Middle East alongside cocktails, beer and wine. The hummus is presented in an unusual (and delicious) way, topped with pinenuts and cranberries. For our main course, Ray ordered the Lamb Kofta, meatballs accompanied by tahini and pinenuts, while I had the Rainbow Trout with purple potatoes and cranberry vinegar. The cauliflower arrived beautifully decorated with tahini, harissa and almonds – the spices really enhanced the flavour of the cauliflower. The handcut chips were served with hummus and zhug – a hot sauce originating in Yemen, which added a real kick to the taste of the chips.
We were too full to have dessert, which was a shame because for once there was a dairy free option available (which wasn’t the usual sorbet) – salt chocolate and Bergamot tart. Next time we’ll remember not to have a starter! Gluten free options also available.
For a tea time treat, Waterstone’s Cafe in Liverpool One https://www.waterstones.com/bookshops/liverpool-one serves wonderful Suki tea with soya milk, as well as a choice of vegan and dairy free cakes. This was like an oasis away from the busyness of Liverpool One.
On our last night, we wandered further up Bold Street to number 128 and found The Italian Club http://www.theitalianclubfamily.com/the-italian-club/ a friendly family-run restaurant where Ray indulged in Spaghetti Bolognese (without cheese) and I chose the gluten free Pasta Puttanesca. The problem with gluten free pasta is that sometimes it isn’t cooked long enough so it is tough to eat. Not so this gluten free pasta which was cooked al dente and tasted delicious.