Wondering where to start on this blog regarding eating out in London has resulted in me writing posts about my trips to Paris and Chicago first as there are just so many great places in London to eat! I have worked on Oxford Street since February 2010 and having been diagnosed as coeliac in 2009 I have been eating gluten free the entire time. Commuting into London and the ease of finding gluten free food nearby means I eat out for lunch far too often! With friends often also meeting me in London for dinner I am always on the search for new, gluten free, Coeliac safe places to try.
Everyone always says how lucky I am to be working so close to all these wonderful places to eat and they’re right I am, although my desire to eat healthily too often does not go to plan as there is always a new cake…or pastry…or donut to try. Having a mega sweet tooth I nearly always cave in, so that is where I’m starting my blog posts about London – finding the best treats. After all most people on a fun trip to London want to treat themselves!
http://www.borough22.com (see website for various cafe locations. I get mine from Selfridges Food Hall, closest tube Bond Street)
First up, donuts! Borough 22 donuts are gluten free, vegan and soy free so fantastic for anyone coming to London with multiple allergies. They also do not contain nuts although they don’t claim to be completely nut free due to the sensitive nature of nut allergies as they do use nuts in their kitchen. Stocked in Selfridges Food Hall on Oxford Street and now several cafes around London I can highly recommend them. Selfridges sell four flavours – sugar, cinnamon sugar, vanilla glazed and raspberry glazed and I love them all! However, be warned that the texture is more like cake rather than donuts so they may not be exactly what you’re expecting.
Top pick – I really can’t decide, try them all for yourself and see which is your favourite!
Rubys of London
http://www.rubysoflondon.com (Stall at Greenwich Market 10-5 on Saturday and Sundays. Closest tube Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich)
Rubys is a vegan bakery so great news if you are vegan or dairy free. They also make gluten free cakes that are safe for Coeliac. Every weekend they’re at Greenwich market where you can find donuts and cupcakes and you can order in advance to collect at the market. You can also find gluten free ones for sale on the day but they are displayed next to gluten containing ones as the market is small so there is a small chance of cross contamination so ordering in advance where they keep them completely separate is the best option to be 100% sure that they are safe.
Top pick – I’ve only been once when I spent a weekend in Greenwich seeing the sights but I loved the food. I had an awesome (but sweet) cupcake, a cinnamon donut and a pretty looking raspberry and white chocolate donut, but as with Borough 22 the texture is still quite ‘cakey’.
http://www.beyondbread.co.uk (Charlotte Place, nearest tube is Goodge St but not that much further from Tottenham Court Road if that makes your tube journey easier; Upper St, nearest tube Highbury and Islington)
Beyond bread is simply amazing and I’m sure worthy of a blog post of its own at some point. Working five minutes from here is a luxury to know I can always pick up a completely safe sandwich. Trouble is I am always tempted by something sweet! A great selection in a dedicated gluten free bakery makes this place somewhere on most coeliacs ‘must visit in London’ list.
Top picks – Cake wise it’s got to be the honey cake, it’s absolutely amazing and I love the icing! Following closely behind I think it’s the carrot cake or red velvet. Beyond Bread also has a such a wide range of goodies like cheesecake, muffins and pastries it really is Coeliac heaven! They have cinnamon whirls that used to be one of my absolute favourites and also a chocolate custard twist which is a must try item! They sometimes overbake the pastry for how I like it though and on those occasions I eat cake! They also don’t seem to have too many choices for those also vegan or dairy free so if you have multiple allergies or requirements you may find you have more choice at one of the other options.
Edit – they have now perfected the croissant and pain au chocolat! Definitely worth a try next time you’re in London!
Tips – try and not go too close to closing time as they have less choice.
Artisan Gluten Free Bakery
http://www.artisanglutenfreebakery.co.uk (Upper Street, nearest tube Highbury and Islington)
Located on Upper Street I have only been here a couple of times but have always enjoyed what I’ve had, sandwiches followed by some sort of cake or pastry.
Top picks – Unlike Beyond bread where I think I’ve pretty much tried everything on the menu I’ve only sampled a couple of items from here and had a great sandwich. I had a nice red velvet cake and a good pastry but I prefer Beyond Bread for both.
Cookies and Scream
http://www.cookiesandscream.com (Camden Cookie Bar, closest tube Camden; Holloway Bake Shop, nearest tube Holloway Road)
I love Cookies and Scream, it’s amazing and also all vegan. They have donuts and cookies that can then also be made into cookie or donut sandwiches. They also have unreal vanilla icecream shakes that can be topped with all sorts of toppings like cookie dough. I think food wise for an indulgent treat this is my favourite place in London (or maybe it is because it is more of an actual treat as I don’t work nearby).
Top picks – All of it, it’s so good. Have a shake with all sorts of toppings and pick up some the cookies and donuts to take home with you! The Chiquitas (peanut butter and jam soft cookies) and Chico pies (peanut butter soft cookie pies) are both exceptional – it really is a tough choice, fill your bag so you can take some home and try it all!
Tip – it is cash only so be prepared as that is a bit frustrating when you want one of everything and it’s not that clear when you’re queueing. That’s at the Camden stall though, they’ve recently opened a store on Holloway Road where that may not be the case and a better option if you want to sit in. However Camden is a bit more on the tourist trail than Holloway Road.
http://www.yorica.com (closest tube Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road)
Yorica is an ice cream and froyo parlour and in Central London. To rival Cookies and Screams donuts and cookies, Yorica does waffles and crepes so between the two you can pretty much fulfill any sweet desire! Yorica is not far from where I work and is amazing to get crepes and waffles with all kinds of toppings or icecream in an actual cone!
Top picks – out of everything I’ve had my favourite were the waffles! I also absolutely love the ‘oreo’ toppings, you would never know that they were gluten free and the choice here is incredible. I’m not personally as keen on the icecream as in other places as don’t think some of the flavours are strong enough, although the gingerbread one I tried recently was pretty good! (This may be because as a general rule I don’t eat dairy free icecream). This place is also for you if you have a nut allergy but they use soy in some of the food so makes some of it off limits to those who don’t eat soy but not all and the food is clearly labelled. (They are working on making it all soy free) Cookies and Scream however are not suitable for those with either nut or soy allergies if that helps you decide which place to try!
Tips – they let you try the icecream so if you’re unsure of flavours give them a try first!
My Old Dutch
(locations – Chelsea, Holborn and Kensington, which is very near High Street Kensington underground station)
My Old Dutch is the place to go if you’re missing pancakes – and I mean the type that you’ll find in Amsterdam – huge and delicious! With a wide variety of sweet or savoury toppings they are awesome! They aren’t a 100% gluten free kitchen and you can’t have the butterscotch pancakes, but when you can have the normal pancakes and they have cross contamination controls there’s enough choice that that doesn’t matter!
Top pick – I’m all about the sweet, particularly for this post so here’s my chocolate one! A perfect stop for any time of day!
Update – this pop up has now closed, check online for future locations?
http://www.nojo.com (location – Camden)
Nojo is new to the Camden gluten free scene cooking up crepes in a 100% gluten free location. With flavours such as chocolate and banana and berry and yoghurt making up colourful instagrammable crepes they have proved popular in an area that already has lots of gluten free choices and worth checking out!
Ive only had a savoury flavour – the chicken teriyaki but this gives you idea of what to expect!
Coori Free From
http://www.coori.uk (Selfridges Food Hall, closest tube stop Bond Street)
Update – Coori has been replaced by Beyond Bread in Selfridges, you can still purchase their products online
Located in Selfridges Food Hall, Coori was a temporary pop up that has turned into a permanent stall and is amazing, but not cheap. I love the fact you can get things like tortellini and pizza heated up for lunch to go, where else can you do that?! They also sell the incredible coori tortellini to take away so this stall is well worth a visit and has all sorts of sweet treats as well.
Top picks – white chocolate and hazelnut brownie (and the tortellini- I know that’s not a sweet treat but it’s the best for tortellini fans!)
Tips – the price of the food depends on what you actually purchase with some of it better value than others. I’ve also found the portion sizes to be pretty big and the brownie slice big enough to share (if you want to!) which makes it more reasonable.
http://www.lolascupcakes.co.uk (various locations)
For a long time Lola’s cupcakes made incredible gluten free cupcakes but they weren’t safe for those with coeliac. That has recently changed as they are now made in a dedicated gluten free facility and they are individually boxed to prevent cross contamination. With the addition of two more flavours and lots of stalls and concessions around London, including in Top Shop at Oxford Circus and in Selfridges Food Hall they too should not be missed. Flavours available are raspberry and chocolate, lemon and blueberry, chocolate and red velvet.
Top picks – how on earth to decide? However saying that this lemon polenta cupcake with blueberry compote is incredible and a little bit different. The raspberry and chocolate one looks amazing but it’s a bit too top heavy with the icing so has always ended up in a bit of a mess!
Tips – as they are well boxed they can travel well so can be bought to take home with you if you’re struggling to fit everything into your trip to London!Lola’s do also make vegan cupcakes but at the moment they don’t seem to have one that is both gluten free and vegan.
Pearl and Groove
http://www.pearlandgroove.com (nearest tube Ladbroke Grove)
Pearl Groove make really pretty cakes and have a store on Portibello Road which I’ve never made it to. They also sell them in Selfridges Food Hall and that is how I have sampled many flavours, often picking up one when I go to Selfridges for Borough 22 donuts as they are in the same counter and they are really good gluten free mini loaf cakes.
Top pick – think it has to be the dulche de leche and sea salt mini loaf.
Tips – in Selfridges make sure the server uses the tongs to pick up the cakes from the gluten free counter and not their hands or tongs from the normal gluteney cakes!
Leon (various locations)
A few months ago, Leon would have come recommended. They are known for great fast food that can easily accommodate dietary requirements. Their dessert counter was always stocked with fab goodies such as pecan tart. However they’ve started doing a couple of things that aren’t gluten free that are stored in the same counters and they use the same tongs too. I’ve asked for a wrapped version a couple of times as seen on social media that some people get the cakes successfully that way but the couple of times I’ve tried to do this I have been met with completely blank stares and no help so I have never bothered again. However, if you happen to be eating in Leon (and they have some great main dishes like chicken satay!) it can be worth you checking their counters or trying to ask for help from the staff and see if you have better luck!
http://www.sugargrain.com (found at Borough Market right near London Bridge tube station)
Freefrom Bakehouse have a beautiful 100% gluten free market stall filled with cakes and bakes, with 65% also being dairy free and some vegan and sugar free options. Your toughest decision will be what on Earth to pick!
I’ve had the scrumptious classic vanilla sponge that is both gluten free and dairy free that I would recommend. They recommended me the vegan muffin at the time but I wasn’t so keen as the texture was really dense. I enjoyed the savoury muffin though packed with spinach and Parmesan, even if it was a bit crumbly! Some of the cakes are beautiful so I need another visit to taste test a few more!
(nearest tube Bethnal Green and about 20 minute walk according to google maps. I got a bus from Angel tube station directly to the market)
Broadway Market is the most incredible experience. So many great food stalls to wander around and lots to be found gluten free. If you have time to go a bit further out to Hackney then I highly recommend that you make Broadway Market your destination.
1. Floris Foods
When I went this was right near the start of the market where the bus dropped me off. All gluten free with lots of vegan choices too you will want one of everything! There are savoury choices but also donuts and cookie sandwiches and I’ve seen on instagram they sometimes have eclairs too. I couldn’t believe all the yummy treats that they had and made my bus trip worthwhile!
Top picks – the donuts! (And I’m sure the eclairs would have been too!) We tried the Oreos and although I liked them and have a sweet tooth they really were exceptionally sweet, too much so for my boyfriend to manage them as he just found it too sickly. The cookie sandwich is also excellent but there are other great ones to be found at Broadway Market so here I would pick the choux pastry and donut items as my top choice!
2. Eat n Mess
Having been to Broadway Market I really want to visit the Eat n Mess cafe in Kent as I’m sure it is amazing. The stall also had lots to choose from including the immense salted caramel and peanut butter cookie sandwich. I also tried the excellent carrot cake. The man on the stall was incredibly friendly and helpful and as I always try and buy everything it sometimes is too much to eat before it goes off for bakery items short shelf life. He recommended the smores cheesecake as he said that could be kept in the fridge for up to five days. This helped me choose a couple of items that would see me through the week rather than having to eat it all in a day!
Edit – they have a new chocolate cookie sandwich which is sooo good!
Top pick – definitely the cookie sandwich!
Top tips – read my gluten free guides blog post on Broadway Market if you go here to make sure you don’t miss anything that is gluten free! http://www.myglutenfreeguide.wordpress.com
Cupcakes and Shhht
I finally made it out to Cupcakes and Shhht, which is located off the tourist trail in Elephant and Castle. Saying that the underground stop Elephant and Castle is on the Northern Line and the cafe only a short walk from there so it is actually pretty easy and there are so many tempting gluten free and vegan options that it’s worth the effort!
The cafe is not 100% glutenfree but they are clued up on cross contamination and regularly appear at gluten free festivals. They said in an email when I contacted them that they can’t guarantee there won’t be traces of gluten (pretty much the standard disclaimer for any mixed kitchen) but they haven’t had any complaints from Coeliac customers and I wasn’t sick from my visit (well maybe from eating to excess but not from gluten!)
There are many beautiful cupcakes that are almost too pretty to eat and mostly vegan too although again I found I wasn’t too keen on the texture of the vegan cakes. They also do some indulgent brownies and cookies, with peanut butter and jam being my favourite of both!
Top pick – with my love of peanut butter and a sweet tooth how could I not pick the berry and peanut butter freakshake? Something I so rarely get to enjoy gluten free! However I was not expecting this monster of a freakshake that tasted unbelieveable, although sadly defeated me (never thought I’d have to say that!) and had to take the cupcake home! Definitely recommend, but unlike me don’t try this place alone as you will need some help eating your way through this!
http://www.vitao.co.uk (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road)
Not everyone wants to eat quite so much sugar and in that case I recommend Vantra near Tottenham Court Road. Their food is gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free. They have all sorts of food, not just desserts and a lengthy drinks menu, although with mixed reviews online and not being vegan myself I’ve never actually eaten there but I have had some of their dessert to take away which for a vegan and refined sugar free option is excellent!
If you are looking for sugar free treats, Romeo’s sugar free bakery on Upper Street also seems to get good reviews. However, being located a few doors down to Artisan Gluten Free Bakery I’ve always gone there instead.
An English tradition and absolute heaven for coeliacs being served all sorts of food that is off limits – sandwiches, scones and cakes, gluten free afternoon tea can be highly recommended. Being a huge afternoon tea fan and using it as a way to meet up with friends for a leisurely couple of hours I have tried quite a few and they are worthy of their own blog post. A great way to eat lots of cakes in London although the best ones tend to need to be booked in advance and don’t come cheap!
Other places to find cake!
There are of course plenty of other places to try in London, most of the places I go to are close to Oxford Street to be able to get to easily on my break or are located within touristy areas when I’ve had days out in London seeing the sights. However, there a plenty of places further afield. For example Manna Dew is a patissery in Battersea and looks amazing from the pictures I’ve seen on their instagram. However, I have not managed to make it out to Battersea myself but worth looking up if you are in the area!
There are also plenty of unbelievable desserts to offer around the capital gluten free, from cheesecake at Leggero, tiramisu at Rossopomodoro, cheesecake or tiramisu at Cotto, peanut butter blondie from Niche…the list goes on. You certainly won’t go hungry in London!!
Where else would you recommend to add to my must visit list for sweet treats when in London list? Add it to the comments so that I can give it a try!
Hope this helps you have the most fabulous time in London!
The Sightseeing Coeliac x