It’s with a heavy heart, that I say ‘farewell’ to my home of the past 5 years on the border of Islington and Clerkenwell. So before this blog moves on to pastures new, I thought I would round up the best I found of gluten free Islington. I hope you find it useful if you are visiting anywhere north of Angel and south of Highbury – perhaps for a gig at the brilliant Union Chapel, dancing to indie cheese at the Academy, some culture at Sadler’s Wells, or maybe just an amble along the Regents Canal.
You’ll know that in recent times many chains have upped their gluten-free game. In Islington you will find branches of Pizza Express, Nandos, ASK, Carluccio’s and Wetherspoons – all of which have gluten free menus and lots of cheap and easy options. It is well-served for chain coffee shops too, and you will find gluten free options at the branches of Starbucks and Costa. We also now have a Wahaca and Itsu – both with yummy naturally gluten free options, and I hear Bill’s is good for breakfast. In five years, I’ve never been to any of them! I’m not sure if that’s a badge of honour? More like a sign that there are some great independent restaurants waiting for your custom…
Something more interesting
The Artisan Gluten Free Bakery is now well-established in it’s airy premises opposite the Town Hall. They have honed their offering and in addition to some pretty delicious artisan breads have a range of pastries, cakes and full meals on offer. Prices have come down too. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Islington is well-served with greasy spoons, but sadly not many good gluten free breakfasts to be had in and around Angel – I recommend ignoring the queues of sorry-looking hipsters queueing outside the (overrated) Breakfast Club, and heading to Crêpe Affair on Camden Passage where you can have a filled buckwheat galette with a good coffee.
Otherwise I highly recommend walking a little further south to the brunch-nirvana that is Clerkenwell.
The only Ottolenghi restaurant-cum-deli has always been busy, but since the publication of Jerusalem, you’ll be lucky to get a table – so I recommend booking well in advance if you’d like to try this unique fusion of Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine, with good knowledge of gluten-free.
The Regent pub is well known for it’s pizzas, and offer gluten free bases sourced from Annie’s – worth calling to check that they have them in stock, though. If you do just show up, your trip won’t be wasted as they also stock yummy Celia Lager.
The Taco Stand is usually to be found on Chapel Market on weekdays. Their menu changes daily, but they usually have naturally gluten free noms, perfect for a quick bite to eat.
Tinder Box coffee shop offers great people watching from it’s balcony on top of the N1 centre, and usually has at least one variety of gluten free cake, as well as serving yummy Wooden Spoon gluten free biscuits.
Where to pick up goodies
Angel is lucky to have 4 medium-sized supermarkets (Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) in close proximity, all with a reasonable free from ranges. In addition there are some great smaller stores to pick up your gluten free goodies:
Thai-An Supermarket is an oriental takeaway/mini-market located just off Chapel Market. I often pick up my rice noodles, rice and tapioca flour and Vietnamese rice wraps from there
Planet Organic on Essex Road offers a good range of gluten free products, with a simple shelf labelling system. I used to head there regularly to stock up on cereals or unusual snack bars, and usually end up with a gluten free muffin or other treat to tide me over on the walk home.
On Sundays, a number of small market stalls pop up on Camden Passage. There are occasionally gluten free treats to be found among the artisan oils and produce.
You may also like my roundup of gluten free Clerkenwell. If you know any other hidden gluten free gems in Islington, do add them in the comments – I will always be looking for excuses to come back!