When I found out that I had an intolerance to gluten and an allergy to dairy, my restaurant options dropped to a measly handful. Of those remaining, I got used to having plain side dishes, and a very limited selection of menu options, as well as the ‘oh a fussy one’ look from waiters. When I moved to London a whole new world of dining opened up to me, restaurants knew what gluten was, they had menus with allergens printed on them, and sometime even offered gluten free bread! It was like a century ahead of the countryside that I had come from. And then I discovered Niche.
Niche is a gluten free heaven, as Londons first Coeliac UK accredited 100% gluten free restaurant it offers the chance to eat with confidence. For a group of consumers so used to feeling short changed and pushed to the dark table at the back of the pub, it was a breath of fresh gluten free air.
My mum is also intolerant to gluten and her reaction is even more severe than mine and so it seemed only right that I try this restaurant with her, for us both to experience together our first dinner where we did not have to ask what the chips were cooke with, and if the gravy had been thickened with flour.
The decor is modern, with multiple shades of grey and the sun finding the many windows makeing even a very small space seem bright and airy.
As well as being 100% gluten-free the menu also caters for many other food allergies, with obvious labelling making clear which dishes were vegan and those that were dairy free.
For starters, we had the vegan pate accompanied by toast and the pea and mint soup with a fresh crusty bread roll. I would come back to Niche again just to eat their bread, it was like none I have ever tried. It didn’t crumble to dust like so many do when toasted, it even had that springy, slightly chewy texture that I had previously only thought possible with gluten. The pate was flavorful, if a little wet, but considering it was made entirely from beans it made a great accompaniment to the toast. My soup was also beautiful, fresh, minty and vibrant it was a summer dish in a winter format.
For main courses, we both chose the ‘Smokey Ring’ Sausage and Mash. This was a dish that I had been eyeing up for quite a few weeks, served with truffle mash potato and beer battered onion rings, it comprised of elements that normally would be off limits to a gluten and dairy free diner. The truffle mash potato was smooth and silky, the absence of butter completely un-noticeable. The beer battered onion rings were sweet, crunchy and oh so satisfying, I could have eaten a whole plate of them alone. The gravy was the star of the show, covering everything with its deep black glaze, filled with black treacle, garlic and herbs its fragrance tied everything together in a smokey, meaty embrace.
The portion sizes were not to be underestimated and we felt a little silly ordering a side of sweet potato fries when we saw the size of our plates. Despite feeling full to burst I knew that I had to order the vegan banoffee pie. My all time favourite dessert pre diagnosis I had been craving its sweet bananary taste from the moment I saw it on the menu. Oh my gosh, it was AMAZING. Single handedly THE BEST gluten and dairy free dessert I have ever eaten. How they created the caramel I will never know, it was sensational. I will go back again and again for that dessert.
Throughout the evening the service was friendly and attentive without being intrusive. We had finished our meal and needed to move from our table due to a large party arriving, instead of being ushered out of the restaurant we were given a lovely seat by the bar with complimentary glasses of wine to take our time and enjoy the ambience of all that is Niche.
Niche | Gluten-free Dining
197-199 Rosebery Avenue
EC1R 4 TJ
Tel: 020 7837 504