I’ve been thinking about starting a series like this for some time and I’ve decided to finally kick myself into touch and give it a go. On the blog I do tend to focus on the smaller, local businesses as I am a huge supporter of the North East’s growing independent food and drink scene; however, I’ve got to admit – we do still eat at the national chains. In fact, since being diagnosed gluten intolerant, I have found myself eating at these types of places more frequently because they tend to be much more accommodating than smaller operations.
In this series, I will be looking at those big chains, the household names like Nando’s, Wagamama and Handmade Burger Co, and rating them on their ‘gluten free’ offerings – from taste, variety and general customer experience.
First on my list is Toby Carvery. I’ve got to be honest, when I first started eating gluten free, I wasn’t really that bothered about the fact that I’d probably never eat a proper Sunday dinner again, never mind a Toby Carvery. Since my Mam makes the greatest Sunday dinner known to man, I very rarely find myself eating one out other than on special occasions. Luckily for me, my Mam has mastered the gluten free Sunday dinner now complete with yorkshire puddings, gravy and even mint sauce. As for eating out, finding something to eat on a Sunday can be quite tricky.
We planned a trip to the Toby Carvery to take Craig’s gran out for lunch one Sunday. I knew I’d probably not be able to eat anything, but I was more than happy to take her out and have a good bit of Sunday afternoon family time. However, a quick Google informed me that the Toby is actually pretty accommodating when it comes to gluten free. Still, I didn’t get my hopes up.
Upon arrival I asked for the gluten free menu and the lovely waitress brought me a giant book full of allergy information and a detailed breakdown of every product. I have found this to be quite common in the larger food chains as they must be under a lot of pressure to not cross-contaminate food and provide options for people with all sorts of dietary requirements. To my pleasure, I discovered I could eat all the veg (even the roast potatoes, which are often dusted in flour) and all the meat – except pork – and the vegetarian gravy. Voila! I’ve pretty much got myself a dinner.
The Toby Carvery is quite pricey on a Sunday (around a tenner for a carvery) and it does get incredibly busy – not quite as peaceful as my Mam and Dad’s house in front of the coal-burning fire, but still a nice change and a great place to take kids and elderly relatives. All aspects of my meal were perfect and I can confirm I wasn’t ‘glutened’ in any way shape or form as I trotted off to work the next morning symptom-less.
All in all, I’d highly recommend the Toby Carvery over your traditional pub carvery if you have any dietary requirement, gluten-related or otherwise, the staff are more than happy to help and the choice of vegetables and meats is vast to say the least.
Staff knowledge: 5/5
Let me know in the comments if there are any restaurant or pub chains you’d like to see a gluten free review of. Thanks for reading!