Eating and drinking out when you’re following a strict gluten-free diet can be tricky – especially if you enjoy ‘pub favourites’ like fresh battered fish and chips or rump steak with Bearnaise sauce.
However, these firm favourites can still be enjoyed if prepared and cooked in the correct way and as part of the ‘Gluten Freevolution’ The Stag at Redhill, Alcester are doing just that.
This week marks Coeliac Awareness Week (May 8- 14) and the campaign aims to make eating out a pleasurable experience without the hassle that can often come with getting food that’s right for a specialist diet.
The campaign is being whole-heartedly embraced by the Alcester pub which offers an extensive gluten-free menu, and we thought this sounded a bit too good to be true, so Redditch and Alcester Standard reporters, Lorna Morris and Imogen Buller went to take the ‘free-from’ taste test…
Upon arrival, we were shown to a table in the cosy and traditional pub, where the quirky decor reflects the ‘stag theme’ throughout.
A bottle of gluten-free 6X Gold ale was offered to us as we perused the surprisingly extensive and allergen sensitive menu and the hoppy, citrusy beer was delightfully fresh on the palate.
With dishes on offer including baked Camembert, warm chickpea salad, bacon and cheese burgers, baked sea bass, duck with braised peas and butternut squash risotto, the choices for both meat-eaters and vegetarians were plentiful.
After being guided through the menu by very attentive, but not invasive waiting staff, we chose a shared starter of fresh hummus and warm toast – all gluten-free.
For the main course, we tried the battered cod and chips with mushy peas, and a British rump steak with mushrooms, tomato, crispy onion rings, chips and red wine sauce.
Two very generous portions more than sated our appetites and the gluten-free batter on the fish and onion rings was impressively light and crisp.
The fish was flakey and fresh, the mushy peas bright and sweet, and it was all washed down with the Wadworth 6X ale. This dish was also milk and lactose free as well gluten-free – another bonus for many with specialist diets.
The steak was cooked well, with a generous jug of sauce to contrast the buttery mushrooms and grilled tomatoes, and again, all complimented very well with pale ale.
And finally, for dessert – a course which often leaves many gluten-avoiders heartily disappointed – it was difficult to choose from the selection on the menu which included creme brulee, sticky toffee pudding, warm chocolate brownie and even a cheese board. Plumping for the brownie, we were not disappointed. Hot and rich, with a large dollop of fresh cream on the side made for a sweet finish to the gluten-free experience, and something certainly to be recommended for coeliacs and those avoiding gluten.
The Gluten Freevolution campaign aims to highlight the growing demand for improved safety, choice and availability when eating out gluten free on the move and to encourage both private and public sector caterers to provide great gluten free food that is safe from cross contamination.
For most people living gluten free, they must do so for life as this is the only treatment for coeliac disease, a serious autoimmune condition caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
People diagnosed with coeliac disease must maintain a strict gluten free diet for the rest of their life if they are to avoid very serious complications such as osteoporosis, infertility and although rare, small bowel cancer.
Wadworth, the Devises based pub operator and family brewer who run The Stag, is commited to catering for those with gluten free requirements with 45 Coeliac UK accredited pubs serving up full gluten free menus and their Gluten-free golden ale.
Visit http://www.stagredhill.co.uk to find out more about the eatery.