WORK IN PROGRESS: This page is a work in progress, as I’ll be adding to it gradually over the coming months, alongside posting my usual recipes.
Having been a resident of Birmingham UK for half a decade now I thought it was high time I shared a few places that I’ve come to know and love for their gluten free selections. Although not exhaustive I hope this little list helps those of you who are travelling through Birmingham, or live here, to find places to eat and shop. This list will start small and grow as I find new places, so do check back if you want to keep updated!
If you happen to be a shop or restaurant/cafe owner and would like to be included in this list please let me know! I’ll come for a visit and write up about it here.
Thankfully most shops now have a gluten free and free from section, so it’s not the wild goose chase it used to be. Raw ingredients, such as flours, are still quite hard to find however, so I do hope this list helps.
1. Tesco Super Store Edgbaston. Post Code: B16 8HA. Open from 06:00 – 24:00 most days.
Best For: wide selection of processed foods and opening times.
This huge Tesco on the Five Ways Island near the city centre has a really good selection of processed gluten free foods. Of course you know that I recommend making your own and avoiding processed goods, however if you are in a fix and need something readymade this would be your best bet.
There are plenty of healthy soups and vegetable pot style foods throughout the store that are gluten free, but also a large selection of gluten free breakfast cereals, cakes, breads, pasta, sauces, biscuits, crisp breads, and more. A wide range of brands stocked too.
My one complaint? Often they include some whole wheat items in this section. I know, who there decides to include “whole wheat crackers made with 100% whole wheat” in a Free From aisle?! I do point this out every time I go in, which makes me popular.
2. Indigo Wholefoods in Moseley. 25 St Mary’s Row, Moseley, B13 8HW.
Best For: Huge range of gluten free flours and wonderful health foods.
I think this tiny store has a wider range of flours than any other in Birmingham. And what they don’t have, they’ll order in for you! I buy all my baking flours here including; sorghum, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, tapioca, polenta…the list goes on. If you can’t see what you want ask the lovely people at the counter and they’ll whack a huge catalogue on the table for you to look through together. And ordered items usually arrive in a day or two, so fast service too.
As you might expect there’s a wide range of health and whole foods here too, including wines from around the world, spices, and various delicious treats including raw chocolate. You can order online too at their website.
I like to support this store because it’s independently owned, the staff are wonderful, and everything they sell is ethically sourced. An all-round winner.
3. Nima Delicatessen in Moseley. 103 Alcester Road, Moseley, B13 8DD
Best For: Unusual ingredients from all over the world, best value spices.
Another tiny store that has a multitude of exotic ingredients. Need some rose water? Fresh yeast? Or mustard oil? Anchovies from Italy or Japanese seaweed? This place will have it. They do usually have some gluten free pasta and cereals about too, but really this is the place to try if you’re sure no one else will stock what you’re after.
The spices here are the cheapest and best quality I’ve found too. Bags of cardamom for under a pound, and large bags of staples like cinnamon and ginger.
How horrendously stressful is it to try and order a meal in an untested restaurant? It can be a total nightmare, and lead to huge amounts of awkwardness and embarrassment. Not to mention the odd accidental poisoning! These are places I’ve been to more than once, and so can testify to how well they cope with gluten free requests.
1. Lasan Eatery/Raja Monkey. 1355 Stratford Road, Hall Green, B28 9HW.
Best For: Amazing Indian food, take aways, and clearly labelled menus.
As we’re in Birmingham it only makes sense to start with a curry house! This number was on speed dial for a while when I was very ill and couldn’t walk or cook. Not just because the food is amazing and great value (although it is), but because their menu is so easy to use. If the item has a (G) next to it, it has gluten. If it doesn’t, it has no gluten containing ingredients. How simple is that?!
And almost everything on their menu is gluten free! They also make a wonderful dosa, a gluten free alternative to naan and truly delicious. You can order in, or eat at the restaurant. One of my absolute top places to eat in Birmingham.
2. Buonissimo in Harborne. 1 Albany Road, Harborne, B17 9JX.
Best For: Really personal service, incredible Italian food, and special occasions.
This tends to be the family Halo restaurant of choice for birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. The menu changes seasonally and they are passionate about what they do. Although they do not have a gluten free menu, if you phone to make a booking and let them know that you are gluten free, they will ensure that they have gluten free bread and pasta available for when you eat.
This means you get to enjoy the famous Misto di Bruschette alla Buonissino! This is always amazing, and as they buy top quality gluten free bread it is a fantastic treat. Just make sure to leave room for all the starters and main courses!
They don’t usually do gluten free dessert other than ice cream, but if you manage the bread, a starter, and a mains and still have room for more, then frankly you’re doing better than me!
3. Yo! Sushi in the Bullring. Selfridges, Upper mall East, Bullring, B5 4BP.
Best For: Sushi including gluten free soy sauce.
Now this is a contentious one for me to include as I’ve had mixed experiences here, but as I love sushi and haven’t found anywhere else in Birmingham I’ll include it with an explanation.
They do have an allergy and intolerance menu that tells you which foods are suitable, and they will make up items that aren’t in the conveyor for you if you ask. They also have gluten free soy sauce which is fairly rare to find in a restaurant, and often the specials include an item or two that is safe and deliciously unusual. (Crab with mango and caviar roll anyone? NOM.)
However, I have been on one occasion when they couldn’t provide the usual allergy menu and instead had black and white print out pages, which were useless as the whole concept is based on colour coded plates! On that occasion I was also told by the server that “we’re really bad at gluten free, we might mess it up, that would be bad wouldn’t it?”. I’ve never been ill after eating here, but in the spirit of honestly describing experiences I must mention that they don’t always do brilliantly.
4. Blue Piano in Harborne. 24-26 Harborne Road, Birmingham, B15 3AA
Best For: Incredible South East Asian Food and two desserts!
A lovely restaurant, bar, and now accommodation provider too, close to the city center without being inside it with all the attendant parking problems. They have a full gluten free menu, which includes two desserts, a fairly rare treat! (And no, one of them isn’t ice cream.)
I would highly recommend the gluten free sweet potato fries, fried in a crispy rice pastry, and the duck, jack fruit and rambutan curry. Simply amazing. But then so is the beef rendang, and most everything else! Reassuringly as well, when I ordered those sweet potato fries they let me know that the pastry was gluten free, and also that they used brand new oil to ensure that there was no cross contamination. It’s what restaurants should do as a matter of course, but get right so rarely. A big thumbs up.
5. Carluccio’s at Brindley Place. The Water’s Edge, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HP. 0121 633 9262
Best For: A really comprehensive gluten free menu, SIX desserts, gluten free pasta and bread.
I’m very happy to have discovered the gluten free menu here. Firstly, as always, it is wonderful to have a menu that is clear and easy, as opposed to trying to work out what might be safe from a “normal” menu. Secondly, this is the best and most comprehensive gluten free menu I’ve seen! Take a look here; you have soups, salads, antipasti, pasta, main courses, side dishes and desserts.
I’ve visited a few times now, and absolutely love the mushroom and pancetta soup, the pate with toast, the primavera salad, and of course both the chocolate fondent and the rum panna cotta. I’ve never felt more like a decadent pirate than when eating that lovely smooth and creamy rum panna cotta!
As my team at work includes me (of course) and another gluten freer, we also choose to visit Carluccios for our Christmas meal. They had a special gluten free Christmas Menu, and it was delicious, with a similar wide range of choices. Highly recommended!
More to follow as I add to this list, and if you have a recommendation, or run an establishment that you’d like to see listed here, do let me know!