Eating Out with Food Allergies in Liverpool
As we had a long journey ahead, Ray and I visited the Marks & Spencer www.marksandspencer.com shop at London’s Euston station for some provisions. We were pleased to see Leon www.leonrestaurants.co.uk now has a branch there, but we were short of time so decided to try M&S. A gluten free buddy had told me that M&S had introduced gluten free sandwiches so I wanted to check if this was the case. For Ray, who is dairy free, it would be problematic as he has found that M&S sandwiches usually contain milk.
I was delighted to find a chicken and salad sandwich “made without wheat or gluten” and after reading all the labels, Ray finally found a chicken and sweetcorn sandwich with mayonnaise, but no butter or milk. There was also a wheat free, dairy free Honeycomb Crispy Bar and Thai Green Curry Sticky Rice Chips (150g bags) which were more like crisps– rice and maize chips with red chilli and coriander. M&S seem to be making an effort to cater for people who are gluten free but it remains to be seen whether they will do the same for people with other allergies.
One of the strange sights we encountered in Liverpool everywhere were these peculiar confetti-like white dots on pavements. Ray and I thought it might be seagull droppings, but when we asked the tourist office we were told it was chewing gum!
I was pleased to see that Liverpool’s colourful Super Lambananas (a cross between a lamb and a banana!) were much in evidence around Liverpool. Designed by Taro Chiezo, The Super Lambanana was originally created for the 1998 ArtTransPennine Exhibition. It reflects the history of Liverpool, as both sheep and bananas were common cargos in the city's docks.
In 2008, when Liverpool was designated European Capital of Culture, 125 replicas were created, each with a different design. There aren’t that many now but if you’re lucky you’ll find some as you walk round the city.
We met our friends at the Bear & Staff pub, 24-26 Gateacre Brow, Liverpool L25 3PB http://www.chefandbrewer.com/ where I enjoyed gammon steak and potato fries, while Ray ordered steak, chips and mushy peas (it’s his northern roots).
We were staying in one of our favourite hotels Hope Street Hotel www.hopestreethotel.co.uk but our special deal didn’t include breakfast. So we returned to Leaf in Bold Street, www.thisisleaf.co.uk one of our favourite venues. We noticed that their menu now has helpful symbols – (N) contains nuts, (V) vegetarian, (VV) vegan, (G) gluten and (GA) gluten free alternative.
We found the staff at Leaf very understanding and accommodating, although it was a surprise they didn’t serve gluten free bread. On one occasion, Ray had porridge made with soya milk and on another day, the vegan breakfast comprising two falafel sausages, field mushrooms, baked beans (he was assured they were Heinz as other varieties can contain cow’s milk), potato croquets and toast. Mostly I had a cooked breakfast accompanied by Nairns www.nairns-oatcakes.co.uk oatcakes which I brought myself.
We visited the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ www.fact.co.uk to look at its current exhibitions, although the centre also offers a film programme. We stopped off at The Garden @ FACT , which is run by the team at Leaf. The menu has symbols for (V) vegetarian, (GF) gluten free (VV) vegan and (N) nuts. I opted for a baked sweet potato with a mixed bean and sweetcorn topping and a salad, while Ray chose a tuna sandwich in granary bread, requesting no butter as he had an allergy to dairy. The staff member queried the mayonnaise in the sandwich, but Ray pointed out that this was ok as it was made from egg whites and oil.
As Ray was finishing his sandwich, he discovered there was butter on the bread. He showed this to the woman who served us. She apologised but obviously didn’t understand the implications that Ray would be ill for possibly two days. She returned to the table adding “There was only a little butter”. I explained it didn’t matter how much there was, any amount would make Ray poorly. She said “It was my fault. I wrote ‘no butter’ under the sweet potato on the order, not the sandwich.”
The sharp lesson is don’t go to independent establishments. We should have stuck with Pret A Manger www.pret.com where everything is clearly labelled. Secondly, this is a wakeup call to always check with the member of staff as they serve your meal “That hasn’t got butter in it, has it?”
Ray did feel poorly although there wasn’t an instant reaction.
The next day we visited our friends who shared with us “free from” products we hadn’t seen such as the delicious Prewett’s www.prewettsbiscuits.com gluten free and milk free chocolate chip cookies and Schar’s www.schar.co.uk gluten, wheat and lactose free Grissini (bread sticks).
They had made a wonderful gluten free and dairy free flourless chocolate cake using Nigella Lawson’s recipe www.nigella.com - we felt very spoiled.
We visited Liverpool at the time of Chinese New Year so joined in the colourful celebrations, led by the dragon dance.
In the evening, we visited Arabesque Bazaar & Bistro Moroccan restaurant, 56-58 Lark Lane, Liverpool L17 8UU, which also sells Moroccan rugs, lamps and ceramics. Here I enjoyed hummus with gluten free crackers followed by Lamb Tagine with rice. Lark Lane should be renamed Restaurant Row as it is predominantly restaurants so you can wander up and down the street until you find a restaurant you fancy.
Our final meal in Liverpool was at the Blackburne Eatery, 135 Allerton Road, Liverpool L18 2DD, https://www.facebook.com/theblackburneallerton
well known for Sunday roasts. I didn’t feel that hungry so ordered a feta cheese salad. To Ray’s delight, he discovered that the batter used for the fish didn’t contain milk so he relished his meal of fish and chips, something he has rarely because the batter usually contains milk.