As usual, this month I have been eating my way through the best gluten free, dairy free and vegan eateries in London and this week I’m sharing one of my all time favourite cafes – and a new little find. 
Kin Café
Price: £
I am completely obsessed with this café. Not least because it is right beside my office, but because the food is absolutely on point. Kin is tucked away about a seven minute walk from Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street tube station. Blink and you would miss it, it is so small, but as soon as you step inside you are greeted with their delicious spread of vegan and gluten free goodies. The breakfast menu is insane and so reasonably priced! The gluten free and vegan pancakes covered in fresh fruit and seeds are to die for, and they can cook it up right there for you to take away and enjoy at your desk. 

pancake to die for

I also regularly enjoy their Chia pudding – also vegan, which is so creamy and topped with different fresh fruit everyday. The menu is also filled with creamy Mexican eggs, overnight oats and every topping on sourdough toast you could think of (including avo!)
 Aside from the breakfast, I would go there just for a matcha latte. The blend of matcha versus milk (I always have almond milk) is so delicious; I could easily drink five in a row. The lunch menu changes daily, always with a vegan twist on a popular classic. Vegan hot dogs for example or vegan crab cakes! 

Matcha latte with almond milk – SO delicious

They also serve the most delicious array of cakes, biscuits and loaves. ALL VEGAN AND GLUTEN FREE! AND NOT DRY AS A BONE! The coffee has also been praised by many of my colleagues – ‘a super smooth blend’, someone actually said to me! At the moment Kin is not open for dinner… but I’m told they are starting a supper club soon..! The great news is that they do cater for parties – and their menu looks divine. Definitely worth exploring if you’re hosting a large do!
So what are you waiting for? Get yo’ arse to Kin.
 Niche
Price: ££
I have to give all credit for finding this place to my boyfriend, who recently took me here for dinner. Situated just near Angel tube station, it is a bit of a pain to find but once you step in, you’re greeted with a very pristine, cute little restaurant. Niche is completely and one hundred percent gluten free – meaning it is a coeliac’s dream! Niche has a typically British menu, with steaks, burgers, pies and bangers and mash featuring strongly. They also had a great list of huge salads. I was so excited at the prospect of being able to eat a dish like bangers and mash, I went straight for the heaviest option on the menu! 

you could choose from 4 different types of sausages!

Sausages typically have gluten in them and I was on cloud nine when I saw they were accompanied with onion rings. Onion rings I could actually eat!
 Unfortunately, our mistake came in that we also ordered starters. And a bread basket. Credit to the waiter, he did warn us that it would be too much food – but we were ‘starving’! I had a delicious light crab salad for starter, whilst Josh had deep fried mozzarella balls (obviously not all things on the menu are dairy free!) 

Avocado and crab starter with bread basket

Although it was light, I was completely overwhelmed with food when the sausages, mash and onion rings arrived. Note here – the portions are HUGE! If you’re going for a big main – you definitely don’t need a starter. OR a bread basket! Sadly I didn’t get to sample the desserts – but I will be sure to go back to try these. 😉 Overall, delicious gluten free food that you wouldn’t usually get to eat – but one hearty main plus a drink is PLENTY enough! Great for evening socialising.
Enjoy!! 

bryonyhopkins

Eating out when you’re gluten free, dairy free, soy free or any other kind of free can be stressful – I’ve already had to become that person who reviews menus before I will confirm I can attend said restaurant! Navigating the menu is just the starting point, then discovering that the waiter/waitress doesn’t actually know what’s in the sauce, or if the fish is fried in butter makes the ordeal so awkward, you think you may as well just stay at home.
BUT NEVER FEAR! I am on a one stop mission to find the best hidden gems of allergy eating in London. See my previous post with four other amazing restaurants Eating out – May favourites– and these next three are a real treat!
WAG Free Kitchen
Price range: £
When my boyfriend proposed this for dinner, I raised my eyebrows too. Why are you taking me to a ‘WAG’ Free Kitchen? Of course, WAG in fact stands for ‘Wheat and Gluten’ and I’m so glad he discovered this buried in the listings of Time Out’s Top Gluten Free restaurants. It’s in Brixton market, a tiny shop with probably only around 10 or 12 tables. The menu was simple British food with a Brazilian twist – burgers, chicken escalope, fresh soups and quinao salads – something for everyone!

IMG_4391

WAG’s venison burger

As soon as I saw the menu I knew I had to take advantage of the rarity of gluten free bread, so I went straight in for the venison burger with crispy wedges, home made mayo and a gluten free bun. It was gorgeous – so simple and so delicious. I was told they usually have a chef there who makes the gluten free bread fresh on site – but unfortunately he was on holiday when we visited. This of course means I have to go back again to try it! At £20 a head, including a Brazilian caipirinha and a gluten free beer for the boyf, this is a totally affordable dinner destination.
NAMA
Price range: £££
NAMA is the home of the raw – artisan raw to be precise. Everything on the menu is totally vegan, gluten free and raw, which means nothing is heated above 46C. Tucked in a small street about ten minutes walk away from Notting Hill, it isn’t in the most easy to find location but the trek is totally worth it. I was firstly impressed by the menu and the descriptions of every dish, for example you can take your pick of ‘Pizza’ or ‘Italian Pizza’, or even ‘Pad Thai’ – old favourites with a raw twist. Originally a small cafe, NAMA is only open for dinner Thursday to Saturday and I attended with a friend who knew the restaurant well.
IMG_4174
On recommendation I went for the Italian pasta – courgette noodles tossed in tomato sauce, with marinaded mushrooms, caramelised onions, black olives, sundried tomatoes and almond parmesan – sounds amazing right?? We also ordered the kale salad as a side to share. Both dishes were delicious and it was definitely an experience eating raw dishes that shared so many similarities with classic dishes I love. The kale salad was so good we ordered another!! Although to be honest, the real highlight of the meal was dessert. A blueberry cheesecake – they’re most popular dish. IT WAS AMAZING! So unbelievably smooth and creamy. I would go back a thousand times over for that cheesecake.
IMG_4172

The creme de la creme of NAMA

At around £35 a head, this is at the upper end of allergy eating and I have to say, I found myself hungry again later in the evening. I would go back to try some of the other dishes but be prepared to spend more – and I would pick this as a perfect cake and coffee place!
Indigo at One Aldwych 
Price range: ££££
Indigo at central London hotel One Aldwych was a find whilst watching Masterchef (yes, I am equally obsessed with watching food programmes). It is a completely dairy free and gluten free restaurant and I was so excited to try it when I saw the celebrities create some of their dishes on the most recent series.
53C6E7DF-4770-4CC5-ACFF-A4174646E650

Starters and main course

The menu is full of so many British classics – gnocci, pasta, fish and chips and steak. We went for lunch set menu, which came to £27 for three courses. I chose the rabbit terrine whilst my Mum had the smoked mackerel gravalax. The rabbit terrine was good – if not a little dry but Mum’s mackerel was delicious. Extremely delicate and tasty, although the portion was tiny! The highlight of this meal was definitely the main course – my steak bavette with fondant potatoes was cooked to perfection and Mum’s aubergine cannelloni was divine. The presentation was incredible, such intricate designs in the courgette flower arranged on top of the rolls, stuffed with a light mushroom tapenade.
IMG_4178

Aubergine cannelloni

Unfortunately the desserts were not as sublime as NAMA – I had a blueberry panna cotta which was light and coconutty and I was happy to finish the lot off. My Mum had a ‘apricot fool’, which turned out to be a very underwhelming coulis with coconut yogurt.
With a glass of prosecco and a mint tea to finished, the bill came to an eye watering £50 a head but it was a overall delicious meal in a gorgeous hotel atmosphere. I would definitely return and would be intrigued to try some of the dishes off the set menu, including the gnocci and the beer battered fish.
Happy allergy dining!!!
IMG_3107

bryonyhopkins

Let me put this plainly – I am not a runner. I hate running. In fact, I’m not really a fan of any sporting activities unless it involves dancing in a nightclub or maybe Zumba.
So when I decided to take on the British Vitality 10k, it was a big undertaking for me. Not least because I don’t enjoy running, but also because I’ve never pushed my my body to that kind of physical limit. The idea came at a spa (obvs, running and being fit and beautiful seems like a completely achievable goal when you’re at a spa), after Christmas, when I was drawing up my list of New Year’s Resolution. The resolutions were as follows:

IMG_4028.jpg

FYI – I am going to Bali and my nails are in good shape… I’m working on the others

I signed up with my boyfriend, Josh, in January and I was quite swift at getting the training going. IT WAS SO HARD. Given that I genuinely had never run further than 500m in my life, I found the first month gruelling and frustrating – my general fitness was extremely poor. I kept plugging away though and by March, I was able to comfortably run 5k in just over thirty minutes – SUCCESS!
Then came the Crohns flare up and the liquid diet – my training drew to a complete and utter standstill. Just getting to and making it through the day at work became my main priority pre liquid diet and once April came and I was on all liquid… well, hunger isn’t much of a motivator!! I did go for one run and well… it was interesting. Click here to read about it! Day 14: Halfway baby!
I managed to get back into it again by June, but by then I was only one month until race day and I still hadn’t run further than 6k. Furthermore, every time I ran I was experiencing really bad stomach ache – something that was definitely slowing me down! My Mum joked that because I didn’t have any large intestine, everything had more room to be thrown about. I think she was probably right! I resided that adrenaline would get me through the day and I would just keep running 5k as practice and hope for the best on the day… a risky strategy I appreciate.
We woke up at 0630 on the morning of the run to get to the starting line in central London for 0900. I honestly have to say that it was one of the best days of my life.
20x30-BRIQ5480

Feeling spritely at 2k

The atmosphere on the day was incredible and to run with thousands of other people was just exhilarating. Of course the real motivator was the huge amount of money I was able to raise for Crohns & Colitis UK and I was truly blown away by the generosity of family, friends, colleagues and fellow ‘Crohnies’!!
20x30-BRIS2299

Feeling the pain at 8k

When I had to walk for a bit during the run as my stomach winced with pain, someone screamed ‘GO ON CROHNS AND COLITIS!’ It was all I needed to keep going and make it to the finishing line in 1 hr 7 mins – my best ever 5k time, twice over.
The feeling crossing the finishing line was just incredible and to have Josh run alongside me – I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
20x30-BRIT1658

Crossing the finishing line at 10k!!

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far. I thought of you all and the thousands of people in the UK who suffer from Crohns or Colitis every step of the way.
It gives me great pleasure to say, at time of writing, I have raised an incredible £1,430.00 for Crohns & Colitis UK! But never fear, there is still time to donate. Click here to see my Justgiving page. (One final plug is allowed!)
IMG_3107

bryonyhopkins

Apart from cooking, my other major love in life is going out for dinner. In fact, not just dinner – make that lunch, brunch and breakfast too! Yes, I am that person who Instagrams all my meals out! IMG_2812I absolutely love eating out and it was obviously a bit of a shock when I first went out to dinner after the liquid diet to discover how little I could eat on restaurant menus. It was a complete minefield – especially when you are faced with a menu of which you can barely eat anything and the waiter/waitress doesn’t have a clue either!
In my first few meals out, I was going to my usual favourite food chains. You know, Pizza Express, Cote, Revolution Bar etc and my local pubs/cafes. At first I thought it would be easy enough to just have chips if all else fails – but soon learnt that sometimes chips have a gluten batter. WHAT? Chips in my eyes are just potato and oil!! And so my knowledge of vast food manufacturers expanded and I realised that there is a tonne of hidden ingredients in a multitude of foods you eat in restaurants. I mean really – why do we need a gluten batter on a potato?
I’m still off gluten, dairy, beans & lentils and most grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. So as you can see, options are slim! After several dinners out with friends and family where there was no other option other than sit there with a side salad, it became clear I had to scrutinise every menu in advance.
Mid May, I went out with my flatmates and I (rather bolshily) said I would research all our nearby eateries and make a decision about where we should eat. Enter Pho….
PHO
Price range: £
Pho is a Vietnamese chain restaurant. I was unbelievably happy to see that their entire menu was certified gluten free by the Coeliac Society, apart from their beers and chocolate cake (this is understandable!) Their menu is plentiful, so many amazing starters including lettuce and meat wraps, vegetable rice spring rolls, crispy prawn crackers and obviously the most famIMG_3092ous dish, Pho – a Vietnamese soup dish. I ordered vegetable spring rolls and the prawn ‘Bun’ noodles, which is vermicelli rice noodles with a lemongrass and chilli wok-fried topping. Served with fresh herbs, beansprouts, veggie spring roll and peanuts. It was amazing to be able to choose out of anything on the menu!
In excitement, I returned a week after. This time I tried to order a curry – turns out these are not dairy free, containing condensed milk. So if you’re dairy free as well as gluten free, its worth asking about the curry options. Would definitely recommend for a delicious but casual meal with lots of choice and it’s not a meal that’s going to break the bank!

 
PING PONG
Price range: £
IMG_3323.JPG
Keeping with the oriental theme, my next recent favourite is Ping Pong, a chain specialising in dim sum, cocktails and chinese tea. I was at some midweek after work drinks with a friend, when we started getting seriously hungry. IMG_3320Ping Pong was next door and initially, I just thought no. No way, there won’t be anything on the menu I can eat. I thought dim sum and thought instantly gluten. However, on further investigation, it turns out they have a
selection of gluten and dairy free options.Granted, the list wasn’t as expansive as Pho, but their menu was clearly marked. They even gave me a special ‘dairy free menu’, which also had gluten free options marked off. I was so impressed with this. Especially as I’ve been given so many ‘nutrition charts’ in restaurants where you have to work out each individual ingredient in each dish.  I went for the Seafood Dumpling and the Har Gau – so delicious!! Find Ping Pong chains across the UK.
 
MAE DELI
Price range: ££
Mae Deli is the brain child of Deliciously Ella – an extremely prominent health and food blogger. Deliciously Ella believes in a gluten free and vegan way of life and I loved creating some of the recipes in her book. So I was really excited to find that her deli was only twenty minutes from work! I ventured there on a day off in centraIMG_3233l London. The deli is small but the range of products on offer is amazing. They have a wide range of salads and hot dishes, all made of completely natural and whole ingredients. Although I have to be honest, it wasn’t this that got me excited. It was the MASSIVE RANGE OF CAKES! I hadn’t eaten a proper cake in eight weeks when I went in there and I completely zoned in on a strawberry and coconut cake, resembling a victoria sponge. There were numerous options on the drink list too – a whole smoothie bar in fact. I went for a matcha latte to go with my cake, as I’d never tried one and opted to have it with coconut milk. The cake was delicious, as was the latte. I even purchased a couple of cacao and nut energy balls for a snack later! I would definitely go back to get a takeaway salad or sample some of the hot dish for dinner. Be prepared to spend the dollar here though – a cake and a latte came to £8. Which in comparison to your usual coffee chains, is fairly pricy. At the moment there is only one deli in London – find the address here.
ETHOS FOODS
Price range: £££
IMG_3296 (1)On my exploration for gluten and dairy free dining, I found Ethos Foods. A completely meat free restaurant in the heart of central London, serving a wide range of dairy free, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free options. The spread was amazing – more breathtaking than Mae Deli. Massive bowls of salads, humous, fresh dips, fresh bread, hot dishes and a HUGE STAND of sweet treats. It wasn’t just the quantity of options on show, it was the creativity of the dishes. Delicious sweet potato scotch eggs and miso aubergine, potato and pesto salad. DAIRY FREE FRESH PESTO! The cake stand was another level, full of energy balls, cookies and huge chocolate cakes. The idea is you take a plate it and load it with whatever you want. Although at £2.80 per 100g, it does work out quite expensive. I filled my plate and had a fresh juice, with the bill coming to £14.09. Having said that, Ethos is by far the favourite restaurant I’ve visited. It is worth the journey if you’re coming into London and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUMMMM!
 
IMG_3107
 

bryonyhopkins

Just one week until I can start eating again and I feel great. It’s funny, people keep saying ‘yes definitely let’s go out for dinner when you’re feeling better’. Although I’m not eating and drinking, I am not ill. I feel the best I have felt in months and it’s really an incredible feeling. Granted, it’s not ideal that this has been induced by not eating and if I’m honest, I don’t know how things are going to go when I start introducing food. But I’ve done three weeks. Twenty whole days of fighting through sheer hunger, foul moods, tears (there have been many), frustration and I’m feeling truly fabulous. (And I’m only really thinking about food 75% of the time now!)

IMG_2726

Feeling totally ab fab

So you’re feeling great sure, but are you symptom free? For now… yes. My symptoms are completely at bay. I haven’t been in pain for days. I feel confident to say I’m in remission now. Take that steroids – I didn’t need you. I did this on my terms!

Today I went to watch the London Marathon and it was honestly the most inspirational day. Over 39,000 people running 26 miles across London for thousands of amazing charities. For friends and family that have been lost, for loved ones struggling with debilitating illnesses. And that’s when I realised where true strength lies. Inspiration and power lies in those 39,000 people who were literally battling through blood, sweat and tears for a bigger and better cause. That is real testament to determination and willpower.

IMG_2704

And that is why I enter the last week feeling great. Next Saturday I will have my first meal (before we all get overexcited, it’ll probably be a plate of easily digestible mash potato) and then I will slowly start to introduce foods, until I find a diet that works for me. This process takes around 4-5 weeks but I feel wholly optimistic I can crack this by being completely vigilant about what I put into my body. If Deliciously Ella healed her PTS and Kris Carr fought back after cancer with diet – why can’t I?! And as my new motto goes, believing is healing!
IMG_3107
In July I will be running 10k for the fabulous charity, Crohns and Colitis UK. It may not be a marathon but is a big feat for me, having literally just recovered from a flare. If you want to put a penny in, please visit my Justgiving page here.
 
 

bryonyhopkins