Gluten Free Leeds: 2 Fails and a Find

We recently spent a weekend visiting family in Leeds. I had the best time and apparently, when our family gets together, much food is required. Hence began our culinary tour of Leeds.

Here are the places we ate. One was fantastic, two not so much.

Filmore & Union

Ok so I’m being a bit harsh to call this a fail, but I was a little disappointed in a few areas. First let’s go with the positives, because that’s always nice.

They have an extensive menu which focuses on healthy foods, and they have a lot of gluten free options. I opted for the chicken salad, which was very tasty but the portion size was conservative, to say the least.

Luckily I had also ordered a side of sweet potato wedges, which were fine. Although not as good as sweet potato fries. And S chose a burger, which was unfortunately not good. It was just a massive chunk of minced meat, cooked to death, and oddly seasoned.

Needless to say we had plenty of room left for a brownie each afterwards, which was extremely rich but pretty good. It’s got plenty of huge white chocolate chips in for those who like white chocolate.

Whilst the food was good, I found it really expensive for what it was. For our burger and salad, two brownies, and two cups of tea the bill came to £40! That’s London prices which I was not expecting from Leeds.

Also the branch we went to was in the middle of a shopping arcade with no extra heating so it was a bit chilly. Pretty, but chilly.

However, overall I think the benefit of having somewhere safe to eat outweighed the negative points and so I would go back again. I’d visit one of their indoor premises for a start, and I’d just be a bit more careful with my menu choices.

Details

We visited Filmore & Union Victoria Quarter
8 Cross Arcade, Victoria Quarter, Leeds, LS1 6AZ.
Open Monday to Saturday 8am–6pm; & Sunday 9am–6pm
Nine other locations around Yorkshire

San Carlo

I thought this was going to be an Italian with an extensive gluten free menu but no. They hedge about the topic on their website, leading you to believe there’s more choice than there actually is. There’s no gluten free pasta or pizza, your options are: a) mushroom risotto (I can hear all the veggies and coeliacs collectively groaning) or b) one of their big-bang main courses which go for upwards of £15.

Having just had an expensive lunch courtesy of Filmore & Union, I decided to go for the ‘budget’ risotto option (still £9).

My mushroom risotto came wrapped in prosciutto, which I appreciated because it’s delicious. Unfortunately, the mushrooms in my risotto were gritty. I get weirded out by gritty mushrooms so that definitely put a downer on things. Also, S says his prawns were gritty which squicks me out way more than gritty mushrooms. I don’t want to sound like a diva, but considering the prices, you’d have hoped they’d be able to clean a mushroom or a prawn properly.

However, they do have a gluten free pudding. It’s a brownie, although confusingly labelled as torta della Nonna or similar. It was an absolutely gorgeous brownie, served warm and squidgy with good vanilla ice cream. Much better than the one at Filmore & Union in my gluten free brownie aficionado opinion.

As the second brownie of the day, we decided to share this one and I’m glad we did because it was super rich. In the best possible way, but still.

Then we sat around for an eternity waiting for someone to notice that we might quite like the bill. The fact that we kept trying to catch their eye was obviously not any sort of indication.

The place was busy on a Saturday night though, so they’re obviously doing something right. Lots of people were dressed up fancy which I was not prepared for – maybe that’s why we were ignored by the staff?! If you want to visit, I’d advise booking in advance and putting on a nice frock if you want to stand a chance of getting good service.

However, they had disco loos so that’s a plus.

Details
We visited San Carlo Leeds
6-7 South Parade, Leeds LS1 5QX
Open Monday to Sunday, 12pm – 11pm
Other locations around the UK including Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester and London.

Ecco Pizzeria

And finally, the win. This small pizzeria serves their own gluten free crust which is delicious. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant – seriously, it’s so good. There’s a wide variety of toppings which are inventive and delicious, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and the prices are very reasonable.

My pizza was just what I’d been after all weekend.

Just look at that… I had the signature Ecco pizza which came with peppers, chicken, mushrooms and plenty of cheese. It was amazing and the crust was just how I like it:

The ‘normal’ pizzas are served by the half metre, which is quite novel. It’s a bit complicated but kind of genius, so the other two pizza guzzlers of the party shared a metre between them. Their toppings looked incredible.

They were running low on their puddings so I left without, but really I didn’t mind having stuffed myself on that amazing pizza.

Details

We visited Ecco Pizzeria Headingley.
93, Otley Road, Leeds, LS6 3PS.
Open Tuesday to Thursday, 5pm – 11pm; Friday: 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 11pm; Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 11pm
Two other locations in Leeds.

I do hope this doesn’t come across as too negative and I hope I haven’t offended the family whom I visited. I just have to tell it how it is, that’s the point of blogging, right? And of course, the company more than made up for the gritty mushrooms.

Have you ever had a restaurant that wasn’t quite what you expected?

-Rachel

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10 Comments

  1. Jen
    21st April 2016 / 20:12

    It’s so frustrating when food doesn’t meet your expectations.

    • 22nd April 2016 / 16:40

      It is, although I’m always happy to give things a go 😉

  2. 21st April 2016 / 21:08

    At least the pizza was good! It looks delicious 🙂

    • 22nd April 2016 / 16:41

      It was excellent! I’d go back just for that! And there were such cool toppings to choose from, you wouldn’t get bored.

  3. 22nd April 2016 / 20:58

    much food is always required! oh man, i love mushrooms and i love risotto, put them together and i’m in heaven. but there is nothing worse than gritty mushrooms. EW. that pizza looks amazeballs.

    • 4th May 2016 / 21:04

      Glad it’s not just me. Why do gritty mushrooms freak me out so much? Ehh I don’t know. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. And the pizza was just as good as it looks 🙂

  4. 22nd April 2016 / 21:13

    That sucks that you had two busts! The prices sound way too outrageous at the first restaurant for the serving sizes that you got. The pizza looks amazing, and it sounds like it totally made up for everything else that you had that weekend!

    • 4th May 2016 / 21:04

      I know, it’s not normally that bad! And the prices were really quite high. Things are supposed to be cheap up north! That was not cheap!!

      And yes, the pizza redeemed all. I will be back.

  5. 24th April 2016 / 04:03

    At least the pizza was good! Gluten free bread is hardest to replicate nicely I find. GF bases are like cardboard often!

    It’s tough for people with allergies! I’m lucky I just have a sensitivity to gluten as it gives me more choices – GF at home means I can eat it when I’m out if there aren’t any other options. And Brisbane is so bad for GF choices! 🙁

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • 4th May 2016 / 21:05

      I’m sorry Brisbane is so bad for gf choices, although that cafe we went to seemed pretty good? Although if that’s your only option then it’s a bit limited…!

      I find gf bases are usually rock hard, and I spend hours trying to saw my way through them, elbowing my neighbours comprehensively as I go. It’s not the most sociable food choice!

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