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/

Dining Establishments That Cater To Gluten Free Diners

Here is the first installment of a list of places that don’t offer a gf menu but can provide a gf dining experience in a number of areas around Auckland. The food is good at these places (even if there isn’t a huge amount of choice) and the kitchens understand coeliacs and the need for contamination free food preparation.

CIRCUS CIRCUS

Circus Circus Located in the gorgeous little village that is Mount Eden (and that I call home) Circus Circus is one of the most uniquely designed restaurants you will find. Complete with clowns hanging from the ceiling, circus memorabilia, lions big enough to sit on and – get this – circus sideshow sounds instead of music piped into the bathroom, just being there is entertaining. Circus Circus - entrance I can recommend Circus Circus as a place to go for a lovely dinner either with family or that special someone. The eye-fillet steak meal is gluten free and the steak comes with beans and a creamed potato stack that is fantastic on the lips even if it is not so kind to the hips. Most of the dishes aren’t specifically gluten free. The wait staff will however help you alter a meal to suit your needs or ask the kitchen if they need help and the kitchen staff do know what to do to keep everything safe for coeliacs. Admittedly you won’t have a lot of options to choose from but Circus Circus is still well worth a visit. I will say this: be very clear with the staff about your needs and if you have a sweet tooth and wish to try the orange cake or the almond biscuits make sure you specify the need for the tongs to be washed before being used to serve your food and be aware that the counter staff may have dipped into those food containers with contaminated tongs previously. I must also say that the day staff is not as ‘on to it’ as the evening staff and I wouldn’t risk going there for brunch but do still recommend the restaurant for an evening visit.  http://www.circuscircus.co.nz/

THE COTTAGE CAFÉ

I have to say The Cottage Café  at 76 Clyde Court, Browns Bay, has changed hands and sadly isn’t as good as it used to be.  Nonetheless if you are on the Shore and looking for gluten free food that is prepared and served in a coeliac safe way then this is the place to go. The café is a cross between an old fashioned coffee shop and a more modern café. Their counter cabinet has muffins and cakes as well as quiches and lasagna that are gluten free and most items on the menu can be prepared gluten free as well. The coffee is quite good and the food is very nice. There is an open, airy quality to the café, the atmosphere is relaxed and the staff is friendly. They also sell frozen gf pies which are good for stocking your freezer for those unexpected visitors your children may bring home over the holidays or the days you just don’t feel like cooking.

BOLERO

BoleroLocated in Albany on the side of the mall and very close to the movie theatre, Bolero is a very handy, coeliac friendly, Spanish style restaurant. I have only been there once and can say that although the décor is very nice I didn’t have a brilliant evening. The service was not up to standard, the management wasn’t very organised and the food was far from being the best I have had. In their defence, I will say that on the evening I was there, there was a very large children’s birthday party happening and they probably should have had more staff on. Nonetheless my steak was a bit overcooked, my meal was under-seasoned and some of my fellow diners weren’t too happy with their meals either. So why are they in my blog you may ask? Well, I must be honest the food wasn’t terrible, they are as I said in a handy location in an area that doesn’t have very many coeliac safe cafes/restaurants and their food preparation and service is impeccable when it comes to coeliac safe dining. As I said earlier they were very busy that evening so if I am over that way again I might consider giving them another go, after all at least I know I won’t get sick.  http://www.bolerorestaurant.com/