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An invitation to eat at the UK’s first paleo restaurant, (which means it is also gluten free) I will admit was met with curiosity and a pinch of skepticism. Like many diagnosed Coeliacs, I sometimes feel the interest in this extreme diet, that happens to be gluten free, only fuels the misinformed media frenzy about gluten free living. However, I am starting to feel that we can surely benefit from the wider awareness it brings about GF living, increased product variety, and the hearty debate that it brings to the table.
And the opportunity to eat out free from fear of miscommunication, cross contamination and mistakes is massively appealing. A completely gluten free eating experience must be a good thing?
I was genuinely blown away with the experience at Pure Taste, in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. It couldn’t have been any better. Truly. I kid you not. All my preconceived ideas of a faddy paleo dining experience were blown out of the water. (and I wasn’t paid to say that!). I shall explain why.
As part of an event for bloggers and writers, I joined paleo people, free from-ers and journalists for a tasting menu version of the seasonal menu from the restaurant. Founder Holly, who herself is coeliac and sensitive to other ingredients, talked passionately of her desire to create somewhere that could cater to anyone. Not just coeliacs, paleo dieters or dairy free people, but accommodating every conceivable intolerance, allergy and strange food restriction possible. Nothing fazes Holly. In fact you can see she relishes the challenge.As she said, this place is “not about historical reenactment of Paleolithic times” but about using the “macronutrient ratios to bring about balance”. Evidently she has a strong background and interest in nutrition. Then her work as a nutritional therapist, telling people how to eat better, led her to think of an alternative way. Show them. Feed them. So training as a chef followed nutrition, ending with a job at Sussex based Jeremey‘s Restaurant – which soon became the home of her pop-up free from supper club. Which in-turn was the training ground for Pure Taste.
In order to ensure the food is gluten and dairy free, and to accommodate other restrictions, everything is made in house; breads, vegan cheese, ice creams, even their own stem ginger to flavour an ice cream. And the creations they make with them are artful plates of extremely flavoursome food. Highlights for me were pan fried mackerel with cucumber granita, beetroot and hazelnuts, slow braised ox cheek with the creamiest celeriac mash – which made the room fall silent. A cannon of lamb with the most intense, bright punchy little gem sauce and the melting middle chocolate lava cake, only sweetened with maple syrup and served with own made stem ginger ice cream.
Add to this a new collection of organic and biodynamic wines, two exclusive GF beers and a Sunday roast – complete with GF yorkies – it’s an incredible free from experience that is certainly not lacking in anything.
And this is what I find slightly ironic, in a month when 100 chefs complained about the new 14 allergen law stifling their food creativity. Holly and her team have based a whole restaurant on this said restriction. Which demonstrates beautifully how ”It is the limitation of means that determines style, gives rise to new forms and makes creativity possible” (Georges Braque, painter). Pure Taste is far from stifled. It is welcoming to anyone with whatever your dietary requirements.