Express's secretive food critic has shared the findings of his 2020 mission to find the island's top spots for gluten-free cuisine.
Strictly anonymous, definitely unpaid, totally independent and 100% honest with his feedback, Harry Smiles has very high standards and expects the people who cook his food to beat them...
"If you remember my last review, I am now part of the 'gluten-free' crowd. I obviously didn’t join that crowd out of my own accord - my stomach and tastebuds have diametrically opposite opinions on the benefits of gluten – and I would happily relinquish it in a second if I had the choice (maybe that’s one to ask Santa about?)
I previously ranted about how difficult it is to find tasty and wholesome gluten-free food in local establishments. I have never spent so much time browsing menus online than in the past few months and let's be honest many disappoint. But since sharing my woes with the world, I have been recommended a few places to try (who said nothing good ever came out of complaining?)
Pictured: As yummy as those croutons were, they were not eaten!
One of the places that I was recommended was The Ranch (at the time of my visit it was still located in St. Peter, but word-on-the-street is that they will move to Roccos soon) for its selection of gluten-free sandwiches. While it is true, they do offer gluten-free breads, the filling options were a bit lacklustre.
My eye was instead caught by the salad offering. Now salads are a staple of gluten-free meals but most of the time, not enough effort goes into them – you can’t just pop a few green leaves and slices of tomatoes together and call it a day. The Ranch deserves full credit for its ‘Nutty Goat Cheese & Beetroot,’ it was full of very different flavours – pickled beets, walnuts and even satsumas - that all mixed together perfectly; the ingredients felt super-fresh and the portion size was rather on the large side. I am not usually a fan of chutneys, but their red onion one was incredible, just the right amount of sweetness with a hint of cinnamon, it married itself amazingly with the goat’s cheese. A 10/10 for me.
Pictured: One of Ginger's rice bowls.
Another double thumbs-up goes to Ginger in the Central Market. Already a firm fan of their udon noodles, I mistakenly thought that was all they did; but one of my friends helpfully reminded me they also have a selection of rice noodles and rice bowls, the latter of which I recently tried and I was not disappointed: Ginger makes delicious, wholesome food, with or without gluten.
I also want to thank them for the detailed allergen information on their menu which possibly saved me hours of stomach pain. Note to self: there is gluten in soy sauce.
Pictured: Flour offers great cakes for a wide range of dietary requirements (note: only the top row was gluten-free).
Just a stone’s throw from Ginger sits another gluten-free paradise. I have always loved Flour cupcakes and the variety of flavours they offer; it’s not just vanilla or chocolate, you can find red velvet, lemon, pumpkin spice as well as different variations that change over the seasons. Understandably, I was dismayed at the prospect of having to content myself with enjoying their pretty exteriors only.
But my sweet tooth’s prayers were answered: Flour do make gluten-free cupcakes and they are as scrumptious and delightful as their alternative; a big feat when most gluten-free cakes taste like moist cardboard. My birthday celebrations are thus saved!
The Ranch, Ginger and Flour all proved that gluten-free food does not have to be bland – as if it needed to be proven, eh?"