Dining Establishments That Cater To Gluten Free Diners (part 2)

This is the second installment of my list of places that don’t offer a gluten free menu but provide some gluten free options that are prepared and served in a coeliac safe way. There may not be a lot of choice involved in dining at these establishments but at least it means there is more variety in the places (and areas around Auckland) us coeliacs can eat.

THE CAKE STALL

So inviting!

So inviting!

The Cake Stall at 754 Manukau Road, Royal Oak is the cutest little boutique bakery around. They create beautiful birthday and celebration cakes but also offer brunch and lunch items. Their coffee is good and although they only offer a few gluten free options they are really yummy and are safe for coeliacs.

Yum!

Yum!

The orange and almond cupcakes are moist and delicious with icing to die for and the chocolate and almond cupcake is a nice alternative to the usual orange. If you are looking for something savoury the salmon potato cakes are also very good. They offer a full size gf orange and almond cake and family sized gluten free slice as well.  The shop itself is so lovely with all sorts of cake stands, tins and decorations for sale. It really is worth a visit (especially at Christmas). During busy times (such as the Christmas rush), they do take on extra counter staff so be sure to ask for your waitress to wash the tongs before using them on gf items or to simply pick them up with a piece of the cake paper they use to line the take-away boxes. Whenever I’ve been in and made such a request a regular staff member has appeared to show the ‘newbie’ what to do and they are always careful and accommodating.

http://thecakestall.co.nz/

MINK CAFE

Mink CafeIf you feel like taking a stroll along Parnell Rise, and you should as it is beautiful, then Mink Café is the perfect stopping place. Mink can be found on the ground floor of the historic Exchange Hotel on the corner of Parnell Road and Heather Street and has a sunny aspect and outdoor seating with which to enjoy it. They cater for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, usually have a gf cake on offer, do good coffee and are licensed.  The bar offers, fine wines, beers, spirits, cocktails and even a good number of boutique New Zealand wines. Mink CafeI have only been there for brunch myself, but certainly enjoyed it enough to return and to take them up on the offer of a coffee card.  They offer gf toast or fruit bread and ask that you be very clear if you have any food allergies. I have found the staff to be careful and accommodating and the food is very nice. As I said I have only been for brunch and although the other menus do not state which dishes are gluten free, every menu comes with a request to inform the staff of your food allergies so I am certain they could help you find something suitable which I know will be safely prepared. Mink is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.

http://www.minkcafe.co.nz/

The Autobahn Cafes

Autobahn Bombay HillsIf you are driving into or out of Auckland in either direction then you will come across an Autobahn Café. You will have to leave the motorway to visit of course, but not by much and it is worth the wee detour.  They are popular with both locals and travellers and provide plenty of parking and a petrol station at each café.

I haven’t been to the Papakura Autobahn for a really long time so I’m not sure how they cater to gluten free customers. I usually go to the Bombay Hills Autobahn Café when I am heading out of Auckland for a holiday or road trip so usually go there for breakfast, something I can recommend doing as the breakfast options – such as the Panini with your choice of topping – are very nice and the coffee is good too. We tend not to leave so early when we head north so visit the Dairy Flat Autobahn Café a bit later in the day and usually end up going there for lunch. In this case I usually order a pie as this is a treat. You don’t get a good gluten free pie all that often (and naturally I try not to eat pies too often) and these are good pies.

I have always been too wary to try one of the flourless cakes on offer, simply because they aren’t labelled gluten free  (so I can’t be sure they are prepared in a coeliac safe environment) and are in a self-service cabinet, which makes contamination too much of a possibility for me. If you ask, the staff will present you with a gluten free menu which lists a fair amount and variety of gluten free options, including a roast dinner (minus the gravy of course).  The menu clearly states which dishes are completely gluten free and which need altering, such as having sauces removed or swapped for a safe option, so there is no confusion as to what you can and can’t eat.

It is vital that you explain carefully to the staff the extent of your difficulties with gluten and exactly how you need your food prepared. For example, if you are coeliac rather than gluten intolerant and therefore require your bread or Panini to be toasted on a clean tray under the grill, rather than in the toaster that the (dare I say it) “normal” bread goes in, then you do need to make sure this is clearly understood. Happily, upon explaining such things, I have always found the counter staff at both cafes I have been to recently to be very careful, accommodating and concerned with double checking my needs and making sure this information is clearly transferred to the kitchen staff.

Autobahn Bombay HillsFood aside the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, the décor is simple but pleasant, the staff is friendly and I always enjoy my visit. In fact I have to say, if I am heading off on holiday when I stop in, I find myself walking in and somehow feeling like that is when my holiday begins. So, if you are a local or traveller, the autobahn cafes are worth a visit and if you are travelling then I wish you a happy and safe trip.

Lastly if you are a local and intend to visit reasonably often then you may want to check out the website for information on the Autobahn Loyalty Club.

http://www.autobahncafe.co.nz/

The Library Café

Winner of the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Metro Magazine best café in Onehunga award and housed in the beautiful and impeccably restored Carnegie Library building, The Library Café is a wonderful place to visit. The food is beautiful and the kitchen caters to every kind of food allergy or dietary requirement you could possibly think of. The staff is friendly and helpful and the building itself is delightful.

Built in 1912, The Carnegie Library is one of Auckland’s finest heritage buildings showcasing the stained glass, high embossed ceiling and chandelier features of its era. There are two indoor seating areas, one is standard café style and includes a children’s play area (There is also an outdoor children’s play area). The other however, is a lovely ‘reading lounge’ complete with shelves of books and games – a space in which I can easily imagine myself spending a lazy winter’s afternoon. There are also two choices of outdoor seating available, so they have really covered all possibilities and have found a way to keep all their customers comfortable and happy. Despite the grandness of the building the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, a feeling enhanced by the cheerfulness of the staff.

Please note the lounge was being set up for a function when I took this photo and is ususally less formal with cosy, comfy chairs.

When it comes to the food they really have everyone covered. Specialists in gluten free and allergy friendly food, they make delicious dishes that cover every intolerance or dietary need. Honestly, they cover more options than I ever even thought of. As well as the gluten free, dairy free, egg free, lactose free, vegetarian, vegan, diabetic friendly, pregnancy friendly, low calorie, low fat and child friendly options they also indicate on the menu if dishes contain sesame, soy and/or nuts.  Plus they pride themselves on providing organic food and the food preparation areas are carefully monitored so as to maintain a contamination free environment.  Not only do they do all of this but they do it at reasonable prices.  But wait… there’s more, they also do functions (including weddings, anniversary parties, birthdays, corporate meetings, Christmas functions etc) catering and high tea for that special occasion. Oh and for the record they are also licensed and a certified green business. Impressed? I am! 

Now down to the nitty gritty… the taste factor. I consider myself a serious foodie and the food here keeps me very happy. The vege stack is lovely, my husband likes the fish and chips, my Mother-in-law thoroughly enjoyed the gluten free sausage and mash recently and the gluten free french toast is to die for… literally, if I had to choose my last meal it would be that! They also have a cabinet well stocked with cakes, slices and all sorts of yummy choices. I recently had lunch there with a friend (who, for the record, doesn’t have any food allergies) and the conversation completely stopped while I devoured a gf peppermint slice and she devoured a gf caramel slice. The only sounds coming from our table for a wee while were happy mmmm sounds. The coffee is good too and I can honestly recommend The Library Café on all counts.

Empty spaces? Food this good sells fast!

I have one final point to make, if you are an Aucklander and have the opportunity to visit regularly then the loyalty programme is well worth joining. They offer a lot more than any loyalty programme I have come across before, including a free meal up to the value of $20 on your birthday and two free house wines or beers on your anniversary.

The owners claim The Library Café is “a novel experience nourishing body and soul” and I would have to agree.

The Library Cafe – 55 Princes Street Onehunga www.librarycafe.co.nz

I could only get a shot of the corner of the play area. The kids were having far too much fun to stop playing just so some random lady could take a photo!