Review: Niche – Toby

Picture this: you’re standing in Leicester Square. Throngs of people-crowds push past you. Probably going to see a film I expect.

And quickly, unbeknownst to the hundreds, even thousands of people around you, you start to shit yourself. What a terrible dream.

But this was no dream for Tobes, it was a very real reality that happened to him (me) not so long ago.

Since then I have been diagnosed, among other things, with a gluten intolerance. I simply cannot tolerate gluten.

IMG_20160202_183504So with that in mind, I was delighted to find out that a mere stone’s throw from my place of work (I do digital) was a gluten free restaurant by the name of Niche.

Its promise? All the normal comfort foods you love, but completely free of the “wheaty terror,” as I call it.

So, I got on the phone to my digital girlfriend (she also works in digital, she’s not a virtual girlfriend but sometimes I think it’d be easier if it was hehe!) and said “can we go to this restaurant one day? It’s in Angel.”

Well, I don’t need to tell fellow Londoners that the words “date,” “restaurant,” and “Angel,” are like catnip to women. So off we went.

We started with a small cocktail (not pictured, I was spending this time scouring the menu for wheaty errors.)

One of the things I’d missed since becoming gluten free was the humble burger. Some people have pointed out “just get it without the bun,” but that’s missing the point.
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The burger was absolutely fine, if a little bland. Having paid around £13 for it, I did expect a little more.

The dessert, however, was much less disappointing. It was, if anything, appointing.

You’re looking at a blurry photo of a chocolate mousse, with a salty caramel base. I’ll say this for niche; they may hate gluten, but they’re absolutely fine with dairy.

Unfortunately, dairy (or “creamy terror,” as I call it) tends to upset my stomach as well, so this was not a wise choice.

Luckily my girlfriend lives nearby in trendy Hoxton so it was a short journey back to relieve myself on her toilet (which is handily near the bedroom so I could pop out in the middle of the night when the cramps and bloating troubled me.)

All in all, I enjoyed Niche for what it was, a restaurant that absolutely detests gluten.

My girlfriend was more critical, complaining that it was a little expensive for a restaurant that served basic stuff. Sometimes, though, you can’t quantify the value of a meal that leaves you with a healthy stomach.

Three and a half boys out of five.

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Review: Lucky Chip @ Birthdays, Dalston

On hearing that Lucky Chip were transporting their patty offerings from Hackney to trendy Dalston, our Foodie Senses went into overdrive.

After a few well-placed calls, we hadn’t really got anywhere, so it was fortunate that a work colleague mentioned he could get us on the guest list for their opening night.

When we rocked up to Dalston, enjoying the vibes of East London (I saw some fantastic hats) we approached Birthdays and couldn’t believe the queue!

Obviously some other well-connected foodies had got wind of the opening and were on the hunt for their beefy produce. After a brief moment of confusion on the door, when Tony was nearly refused entry, we were shown to our table of four.

As you can imagine, the venue was heaving with people – and balloons! There must have been at least 100 helium balloons in that room, which actually reduced your headspace because of the string dangling from the ceiling. They would be well advised to avoid using these in future.

The deal was, you got a free cheeseburger each with an accompanying bottle of Peroni lager. Our lactose intolerant friend requested the cheese to be removed, but the waitress kindly explained this was impossible because of the recipe.

This was queried, but having the knowledge of the food industry as I do, I quickly stepped into explain that making a cheeseburger wasn’t as simple as cooking a beef patty and putting cheese on top of it (or not).

The Peroni lager we got was interestingly 250ml, as opposed to 330, the more common measurement. I enquired as to the reasons for this with the waiter but she was very busy and didn’t seem to hear.

The fries arrived a short while after – one basket between a table of four. Which caused this little amusing quip:

“Never mind Lucky Chip, I’ll be lucky if I GET a chip!” – Toby

Small fry

Small fry

Toby actually ended up eating more chips than any of us, enjoying their dry texture, as he had been suffering from an overly wet mouth all day.

Next up, the burger!

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With cheese fully intact (our friend was able to peel it off with relative ease) they eventually arrived at our table in charming little red baskets.

A lovely touch which reminded me of mother bringing in the washing on a summer’s day, except nestled among the laundry was a cheeseburger.

After we’d finished, we were about to ask for the bill, when we remembered it was free! I asked the waiter to bring a receipt for what we would have paid anyway, but she was understandably busy and couldn’t do this.

And with that, we left to give another of London’s food-fanciers a chance to taste Lucky Chip.

GBK

Monkey nuts“Hey, Tony, fancy heading out for lunch today?” said my colleague.
“Yes, why not. Where shall we go?” I replied.
GBK?” my colleague offered confidently.
“Well, I do like burgers especially gourmet ones prepared in a kitchen.” I quipped.

After grabbing some monkey nuts, (I don’t like them but they’re free) we sat down and discussed why exactly they’re called monkey nuts for a little while (no conclusion was reached) until we thought we should order some food.

The lunch menu boasted a burger 4oz, and a side for £5.95. Pretty reasonable!

That is until you decide you want a 6oz for £1.50 extra and a vanilla milkshake! What can I say, the nuts must have gone to my head.

I went for a blue cheese burger and skinny fries.

The burger was good and the cheese dealt an impressively tangy punch.

Blue cheese burger

The best bit was these tiny, little chips though. My colleagues and I debated how exactly these would be made, no conclusion was reached. These were covered in HeiHei salt, which is like salt but with something extra. We debated what this ‘something extra’ could be but reached no conclusion.

If you fancy a lunch to fill not just your belly but also your brain, you can’t go too far wrong with a GBK!

Skinny fries