Reviews

In short

Tasty and convenient nut, gluten and milk free food delivered to your doorstep

Review

Cooking your own meals is the best way to ensure that your meals truly meet your dietary requirements but sometimes our busy schedules don’t leave us with enough time to get in the kitchen and prepare lunch for the next day.

While it is helpful to know which restaurants can cater to your requests, every now and again life throws a spanner at you which confines you to your desk during lunch.

For days like that, an Ilumi meal would be just the thing you need to get you through your busy lunch. Ilumi deliver great tasting, nut, gluten and milk free meals in convenient pouches that will neatly fit in your desk drawer, handbag or backpack.

Using the best quality ingredients from British suppliers, their meals are prepared in such a way that they don’t need to be refrigerated so you don’t need to worry about fighing for space in the office fridge.

Furthermore, every detail you need to know about the food can be found on the packet: ingredients, carbs, protein, fat. As a matter of fact, the only thing is missing is the amount of fibre per meal.

Anything this nutritionally balanced sounds as though it should only taste of cardboard, but we can honestly say that the chefs haven’t skimped on flavor.

The best bit, though, is that the meals are delivered to wherever you need them to be delivered. There’s not much more that a busy body could ask for.

What we tried:

Slow Cooked Beef casserole

Photo 11-07-2013 00 46 58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also ordered the Lamb Rogan Josh, Thai Red Chicken Curry and Cardamom Chicken

Photo 03-07-2013 11 44 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The convenience

The responsible approach to food

The taste

What we would do differently

Include the fibre content of meals

Who can eat here?

All Balanced Busy Bodies – Calorie Counters, Carb Conscious, Gluten Aware, Vegetarian and Vegan

Value for money

The highest priced meal costs £3.50 and soups are around £1.75. Plan ahead and you can keep order a week’s worth of lunch for under £25.

Find out more

www.ilumiworld.com

facebook

twitter

In short

One of the high street pizza chains that is part of the gluten free movement

Review

Prezzo is the kind of restaurant that is synonymous with the high street so when we heard through the grapevine that Prezzo has gluten free pizzas on the menu, we had to check it out.

Our two reviewers for this restaurant were a highly sensitive coeliac and an athlete who is trying to reduce her gluten intake. On this occasion we visited the Haymarket branch.

Our coeliac was highly impressed with her pizza and couldn’t find any fault with it at all. ‘Usually the only way I get to eat pizza is if I make it myself so right now I am in heaven’.

Our athlete ordered a Spicy Beef gluten free pizza and our server was quick to point out that the beef had gluten in it. This prompted to her to ask for the beef to replaced with chicken – a request that our server was happy to accommodate.


Although the athlete felt that the pizza became slightly rubbery as it began to cool down, the server’s attention was the key feature of the visit and impressed the socks off both of our reviewers. ‘Very rarely do I meet restaurant staff who actually know and understand the menu inside and out’, noted our athlete.

If it weren’t for this server’s diligence, we would have just assumed that the addition of a gluten free base was merely an exercise to increase their customer base.

In addition to gluten free pizza bases, Prezzo also offer a ‘Light’ version of their classic pizzas and pasta dishes that are lower in calories than their traditional versions. The amount of calories on of the light options is available on the menu.

What we tried:

Gluten free Prosciutto e Funghi Pizza

Prezzo Gluten free Prosciutto e Funghi Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten free Spicy Beef (with chicken instead of beef)

Prezzo Gluten free Spicy Beef (with chicken)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

Our server’s knowledge of the menu

Seeing light options on the menu

A variety of pizza options for coeliacs

What we would do differently

Champion the gluten free pizza bases more – we felt that it was hidden on the menu under the pizza section when it should be shouted from the rooftops

Include the calories for the traditional recipe AND the light option – that way consumers can understand the difference in calories between the two

Who can eat here?

Calorie Counters

Gluten aware

Vegetarians

Value for money

We used a Taste London card for this meal so the two pizzas plus two herbal teas cost us all of £13.65 – excellent value for money.

Had we not used the Taste London card the cost would have been £22.60 which is still good value.

Locations

http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants

Find out more

http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/

facebook

twitter

  

 

 

 

Ravi Shankar Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

In short

Tasty, vegetarian restaurant that has attracted many a carnivore

Review

After receiving two recommendations for Ravi Shankar we made it a priority – especially as both recommendations came from self-confessed meat lovers.

Ravi Shankar is an Indian vegetarian restaurant located around the corner from Euston Station and has been there for over 30 years.

We found that their menu offers a wide selection of authentic, vegetarian meals to choose from. So wide that we weren’t sure where to start and opted for the daily special.

Once we tucked into our meals we understood why the restaurant is so popular. Ravi Shankar proves that just because a dish is vegetarian, it doesn’t have to be bland. Each of their meals has a distinct, traditional flavor and the portion sizes were adequate enough to leave us feeling satisfied.

What we tried:

Onion Bhaji

Thinly sliced onions dipped in gram flour and herbs, and deep fried until golden

Brinjal Bhajee

Aubergines cooked in vegetable oil and lightly spiced

Brinjal Bhaji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chana Masala

Chickpeas cooked with onions, herbs and tomatoes

Chana Masala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saag Paneer with Chapatti

Homemade cottage cheese cooked with fresh spinach and lightly spiced served with chapatti, salad and a dessert. We’ve eaten our fair share of Saag Paneer in the past and this one certainly disappoint.

Saag Panir with Chapatti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach and Panir Dosa

From the Coral coast of Madras, these rice pancakes served with curd cheese & Spinach filling, and served with coconut chutney and sambhar. Having never tried a Dosa before this ended up being our favourite dish of the evening.

Spinach and Panir Dosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The traditional menu

The portion sizes

What we would do differently

Spruce up the décor a little

Who can eat here?

Vegetarians and vegans

Value for money

Onion Bhaji                             £3.80

Brinjal Bhajee                          £4.90

Chana Masala                         £4.80

Saag Paneer with Chapatti     £6.50

Spinach and Panir Dosa         £6.95

Location

133-5 Drummond Street, London, NW1 2HL

Find out more

http://ravishankaruk.com/

Abokado

By BBB

Abokado for BBB

In short

Slightly underwhelming in flavour but there are options for many dietary requirements

Review

It was a cold winter day and we were on the hunt for a warm, healthy option lunchtime option. Abokado was recommended so after feeling reassured by the website we trudged on down.

Their strap line is ‘hot, healthy, fast’ which they are. All that is lacking is flavour. Or more accurately put – good flavour.

Flavour aside, the menu offers a wide variety of sensible meal choices to choose from including wraps, salads, soups and sushi.

In addition, all the nutritional information you need, including an intolerance chart, can be found on their website as a downloadable pdf under the ‘Nutrition’ tab. The intolerance chart contains information for people who are dairy, wheat and/or gluten intolerant and also highlights which meals are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

What we tried

Teriyaki Chicken and Brown Rice

Teriyaki Chicken and Brown Rice

This is a poor menu addition in our opinion because of its high sugar content. Although it contains a good amount of fibre – courtesy of the brown rice and veggies – it was just too sweet for our liking. We even tried taking the edge off of the sweetness with teriyaki sauce but to no avail. This box has a lot of potential but we feel the recipe needs to be revisited.

 

 

Shrimp Dumpling Udon

Shrimp Dumpling Udon

Another establishment may have filled the container to the brim with noodles and popped in a couple of prawns for good measure but this dish had just the right amount of noodles – not too much and not too little. It tasted as though it was made with powdered chilli as opposed to fresh chilli, but at 336 calories you can’t go wrong. After finishing it we did feel like we had room for a little more but if you are watching your calorie and fat intake, this is an ideal dish to go for.

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast Chicken Pot 

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast Chicken Pot

This was our favourite of the options we tried as it was filling and the flavor balance was just right. Furthermore the carb-protein ratio left us filling content. The saturated fat content may be a cause for concern for some people, but it’s worth pointing out that a number of studies have shown that saturated fat from coconut is actually good for your heart.

 

 

What We Liked

Nutrition and Allergy is easy to find and understand
The wide choice available for people with special dietary requirements

What We Would Do Differently

Include a few more dishes with a better carb-protein ratio
Revisit the Teriyaki Chicken recipe

Who Can Eat Here

As there is extensive information on the site we will only make a few suggestions here:

Abokado BBB Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value For Money

Chicken Teriyaki and Brown Rice £4.99

Shrimp Dumpling Udon (Large) £5.49

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast (Large) £5.49

Locations

You can find your nearest store here:

Find Out More

www.abokado.com

facebook

 

 

 

 

 

Lupita East exterior

In short

Authentic Mexican restaurant that doesn’t patronise diners who have specialist requirements.

Review

Mexican food has been elbowing its way onto the London dining scene for the last few years with some hits and some misses so when we passed newcomer Lupita we thought we’d pop in to find out if it was a hit or a miss.

We visited Lupita East, which is located just a few minutes’ walk away from Aldgate East Station. The décor was minimal yet authentic, but the true beauty of the restaurant lies on the menu which offers a wide range of Mexican fare from burritos and tacos to soups and totopos Not only is the food authentic, it provides reasonable options for diners with specialist diet requirements.

You’ll find great options for vegetarians which include ingredients such as nopales (cactus), flor de calabaza (squash flour blossoms) and huitlacoche (Mexican truffles).

Coeliacs can request corn tortillas for dishes that are made with flour tortillas (except burritos). Our server explained that the restaurant will always try to modify a dish to meet your needs. However, requests should be reasonable – there have been requests in the past for quesadillas with no cheese…

Calorie counters can obtain calorie information on meals if you ask in advance. We took it upon ourselves to do a little enquiring and learned that the following dishes are below 400 calories:

  • Tostada Ceviche
  • Tostada Tuna
  • Tacos de Hongos ( Mushrooms)
  • Tacos Gobernador (asked with half portion of cheese)
  • Tortilla Soup, no avocado, no sour cream,
  • Sopa de Verduras
  • Prawn Nopales Salad
  • Ensalada Maya
  • Arroz ala Mexicana ( no sour Cream)

All in all this was a great Mexican experience and we would recommend Lupita to anyone who appreciates Mexican food – specialist requirements or not!

What we tried:

Chicharron de Queso y Guacamole

A tunnel of cheese served with guacamole. Heaven for cheese lovers.

Chicharron de Queso

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nopales tacos with corn tortillas (top)

Flor de calabaza quesadillas with corn tortillas (bottom)

Lupita tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flan de cajeta (top)

Almond Daim chocolate tart (bottom)

Lupita desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The authenticity of the menu from start to finish

The guacamole was the best we’ve tasted for a long time

The staff have a great understanding of the menu and confidently responded to diet specific queries

What we would do differently

Add a little more kick to one of the salsas

Include more of the nutritional attributes to their website

Who can eat here?

Lupita profile breakdown (592x834)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

Definitely. Two people can have a starter, main and drink for around £20 per head.

Locations

Lupita Central 13 – 15 Villiers Street, WC2N 6ND

Lupita East 60 – 62 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LT

Find out more

www.lupita.co.uk

facebook

twitter

Ned’s Noodle Bar

By BBB

In short

A noodle bar that serves wheat free and low carb noodles

Review

If you thought that leading a healthy lifestyle meant that noodles were off the list, you’re wrong. We’ve discovered a restaurant where carb watchers can have their noodles and eat them too.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the London Eye, Ned’s Noodle Bar serves up a variety of noodle dishes that should appeal to most taste buds and diets.

The restaurant itself is unassuming both inside and out, but you can watch your dish being prepared in the open plan kitchen just behind the counter. All meals, whether takeaway or eat in are served in pailor boxes which adds an eclectic touch to the experience.

In addition to egg noodles and soba noodles, this restaurant also serves rice noodles and low carb noodles.

We were impressed with the options for gluten aware and carb conscious Busy Bodies but we did feel that the nutritional information was not as forthcoming as it could be.

For instance, wheat free noodles are great menu inclusion, but there is no information as to whether or not the sauces are also gluten free. We sent an e-mail to their head office requesting confirmation of this but have had no response as yet so we would advise our gluten aware diners to tread carefully when ordering from here.

Also, their website states that ‘to the best of their knowledge they are GM free, use no MSG and prepare each dish at the time of ordering’. We would have preferred if the claim was definitive and not tentative.

What we tried:

Lo-carb beef and edamame

Beef and Edamame

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, this dish can only be served by the restaurant cold. After we took it away and warmed it up in the microwave, though, we were impressed.

What we liked

The fact that they offer low carb and gluten free noodles

The original American pailor take out boxes

What we would do differently

Find a way to serve the lo-carb noodles hot

Be a clearer with nutritional claims

Who can eat here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

Given the central London location the prices weren’t shocking

Chicken yakisoba £7.25

Lo-carb beef and edamame noodles £4.75 or £6.95 depending on the size

Also worth noting

They are halal certified

Loyalty card

According to their website they do have a Gold Loyalty Card and Silver Loyalty Card.

Locations

95 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UW

3E Belvedere Road, London SE1 7GQ

The Food Terrace Eastgate Centre, Town Centre, Basildon SS14 1EB

Find out more

www.nedsnoodlebar.com

 

Barenaked Noodles

By BBB

 

 

In short

A GREAT, low-carb substitution for traditional noodles

Review

The first time we heard the term ‘low-carb noodles’ we thought it was a reference to Emperor’s New Food. We could only envision… air.

Never ones to miss an opportunity to trial something on behalf of our Carb Conscious readers we decided to give the noodles a whirl.

So we followed the instructions on the packet to a ‘T’, topped the low-carb noodles with a homemade chilli con carne and we were not disappointed!

The texture was different from your normal spaghetti or egg noodle, but the texture was sturdier than expected given that these noodles are so low in carbs.

One pack delivers just over 4g of carbohydrates and less than 40 calories, which meant that our lunch was low in carbs and high in protein. Add to that the fact that they had no fat and are a decent source of fibre, we were sold.

It’s worth noting that a level of discipline is still needed with these noodles. Whilst your taste buds will be satisfied with the texture of the noodles, your stomach may not be fooled as easily.

However, if you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your diet and can’t face another plate of grilled chicken and veg, these noodles will hit the spot without throwing your diet off track.

Barenaked foods also do a protein noodle which provides 39.7g of protein  and1g of carbs, which is great for those who have a specific amount of protein they want to consume daily.

Nutrition breakdown per 100g

 

 

 

 

 

What we tried

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low carb noodles with homemade chilli con carne

What we liked

The clean, sexy packaging

The fact that they actually taste like noodles

The noodles are incredibly convenient and easy to prepare

What we would do differently

Get ‘em into the supermarkets and fast!

Who can eat these?

All of our Busy Bodies can eat these noodles.

Gluten Aware Busy Bodies should be made aware of the fact that the noodles contain oatmeal flour which might contain Avenin

Value for money

At £2.49 per pack they are not ‘cheap’ per se but not prohibitively priced. Good, quality food is rarely cheap!

In January and February of 2012 you can buy protein noodles for £1.90 per pack

Find out more

www.barenakedfoods.co.uk

 

In short

Great tasting pies, but the gluten free recipe could use a revamp and nutritional info could be more transparent.

 

Review

Although not renowned for their nutritional value but for their comfort factor, a pie is definitely a staple British meal. Pie chain Square Pie appears to have taken the high road regarding dietary inclusion and 1) created a gluten free steak pie and 2) published some nutritional info.

Not ones to pass up an opportunity to tuck into a good meal we decided to sample the gluten free steak pie to see how it stood up against the others.

One opinion came from someone who isn’t a celiac and one who is. Unsurprisingly, opinions on the gluten free pie were split.

The non-coeliac said, ‘Point blank, the gluten free was disappointing, the crust was reminiscent of a thick tortilla chip – crispy, not flaky and the filling was salty. So disappointing was the gluten free pie that the mash, gravy and peas were a better gastronomical experience than the main’.

The other opinion, which came from a coeliac was far more favourable: ‘Although not as attractive as the other pies, it was a good alternative. The steak could have used a little more seasoning and I would have preferred if it was a classic pie and not a pot pie. However, given that I generally have no access to this type of treat it’s great to know that this is now an option’.

Personal opinions aside both testers were impressed when they were informed by staff that all sides are gluten free.

Responsible Nutrition

The provision of nutritional information was promising at first but on closer inspection was a little disappointing. Information is currently only available for the Mushroom and Asparagus Pie, Chicken, Leek and Ham Pie, Steak and Guinness Pie and Lamb and Rosemary Pie. The information is provided per 100g and pies are either 280g or 180g in weights so you will need to grab a calculator to establish what the true nutritional value of your pie is.

We were only able to find nutritional information for the Steak and Guinness pie we sampled for which we were able to calculate the following values:

 

 

 

 

 

So although they claim that their pies only have 13g of fat per 100g is true, it is worth bearing in mind that their classic pies are considerably larger than 100g. If you fancy a pie for a cheat meal but don’t want to go overboard, you’re best to opt for a small pie which weighs 180g

What we tried:

Gluten free Steak pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steak and Guinness Pie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

In keeping with its reputation, these pies genuinely filled the hole

What we would do differently

Revisit the gluten free recipe Bite the bullet and publish the nutritional information for each pie, not for a fraction of the pie.

Can you eat here?

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

The classic pie is £4.80 The gluten free steak pie meal deal is £7.20

Loyalty card

None

Locations

Bluewater, Spitalfields, Canary Wharf and Westfield

Find out more

www.squarepie.co.uk

 

Tibits

By BBB

In short

It’s a novel dining experience for vegetarians with an unpredictable pricing system.

Review

Nestled behind busy Regent’s Street you will find a vegetarian restaurant haven called Tibits. We’d heard good things about this place so we may have approached with unrealistically high expectations.

When we arrived it was clear that staff were a little busy. After standing near the entrance of the restaurant for a few minutes someone eventually informed us that there were tables for two ‘over there’ and nodded in the direction of the dining area.

We grabbed a table and then deduced that we would need to go to the food bar, which we later learned is called the food boat, and prepare our own plates.
The food boat boasts an impressive variety of foods to choose from – salads, garnishes, breads, hot food, desserts and of course – veggies.

 The flavour of the meal, unfortunately, wasn’t as impressive as the variety and there were no salt and pepper shakers on our table to help us enhance the taste.

Service, variety and flavour aside it was the cost of the meal that left the most profound impression. Tibits is unique in its approach to vegetarian food and this uniqueness is evident in the decor, the format and not least the pricing. Instead of paying a flat all-you-can-eat fee, Tibits charges per 100g of the weight of your plate.

Having overheard a waitress tell someone that the average cost per plate was £9, we didn’t think much of this pricing system until it was our turn to weigh in and pay.

One plate came in at a reasonable £8.30 but the other plate weighed in at a mind boggling £19.00. There was an uncomfortable silence as we stared at the seemingly mammoth plate and tried to reconcile how a plate of veg could ever be worth £19.00. To add even more discomfort to this situation, the person ringing up our order did not appear to be remotely sympathetic to our dropped jaws and waited equally silently for us to snap out of our shock and pay.

Apparently bread is free, but we didn’t know this and neither did the young woman who weighed our plates as she didn’t ask us to remove it from the plate.

Information was so hard to pull from staff that day that we only discovered that there was a reward card system after spotting one on a neighbouring table.

What we tried:

One plate was a combination of pumpkin salad, roast fennel, mushroom risotto, onion rings, wedges, avocado cream, tofu pasta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other plate was a combination of onion rings, falafel bites, pumpkin salad, barley risotto, rocket, quinoa salad, bread and fennel – probably the heaviest thing on the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The decor

The tap water fountain

Product info at the top of the food boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we would do differently

Put a scale near the food boat or display a sample £10 plate for reference.

Signpost the water fountain better – it is a rarity to be able to get your own

Who can eat here?


 

 

Value for money

Lunchtime is £2.10 per 100g, dinner is £2.30 per 100g

We went at lunch and one plate amounted to £8.30 while the other amounted to £19.00

Given that it’s difficult to know how much you’ve spent until you reach the counter, we can’t say its great value for money. If you’ve got a knack for being able to eyeball the weight of something, you may fare better than we did.

Loyalty card

Enjoy 5 meals from food boat (min £5 each) and get a free freshly squeezed fruit juice worth up to £3.30

Locations

12 – 14 Heddon St, London, W1B 4DA

Find out more

www.tibits.co.uk

 

 

 

In short 

This is easily the holy grail of frozen desserts – delicious non-fat frozen yogurt we can eat without having to guess what we are eating.

Review

The pebbled floor and long queues were a dead giveaway that this frozen yogurt experience was going to be one like no other.

Dessert chain Pinkberry has been established since 2005 and dotted around the globe in locations such as West Hollywood, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Peru, and Kuwait to name a few.

When the first store opened in 2005 in West Hollywood, people were voluntarily incurring parking tickets and queuing for up to half an hour to get their hands on this frozen yogurt. Even halfway across the globe in Old Blighty, queuing is part of the Pinkberry experience.

So what is it about this frozen yogurt that has created an international craze? We think it’s the phenomenal taste combined with the assurance that the product might actually be good for you.

The taste is definitely unrivalled. Regardless of what flavour you choose the effect on your palette is unique – it’s creamy enough, sweet enough yet tangy enough.

Taste aside, it’s their dedication to wholesome goodness that really got us excited. They are proud of their natural approach to dessert and have no qualms about championing it. And why shouldn’t they? Their products are made with premium non-fat yogurt, non-fat hormone-free milk, live and active cultures and no high fructose corn syrup. Coeliacs are also in luck as the products are gluten free.

All the nitty gritty nutritional info you need can be found on their website and staff seem clued up about what they are serving. On our visit to Pinkberry, the young lady behind the counter was well versed on how many calories were in our coconut frozen yogurt and only referred to her cheat sheet when we enquired about the amount of carbs in our dessert.

Speaking of which, a small coconut frozen yoghurt delivered 196 kcals, 0g of fat, 42g of carbs (of which 39.2g) are of sugar and 5.6g of protein. Not an amazing nutritional profile if you’re watching your carb intake, but surely the wholesome ingredients make it a distinctly better option than many other frozen desserts.

Although this a superior dessert option, and although they prefer natural options, the sugar content is still a little on the high side so remember to consume responsibly.

What we tried:

A small coconut frozen yogurt with fresh strawberries

A small salted caramel frozen yogurt with peanut butter crunch

A small pomegranate frozen yogurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The transparent approach to nutrition – the nutritional info can be downloaded as a pdf!

http://www.pinkberry.co.uk/nutrition.html

What we would do differently

Any chance of a lower sugar option?

Who can eat here?

 

 

*Bonus – all of Pinkberry’s flavours are certified kosher by Kosher Supervision of America (KSA)

Value for money

A small cup of frozen yoghurt (140g) is £2.75

Standard toppings are 55p

Luxe toppings are 75p

Loyalty card

Buy 10 Pinkberry items of any size and get a small frozen yoghurt with toppings for free.

Locations

Selfridges Food Hall

Westfield Stratford City

Bluewater Shopping Centre

Find out more

www.pinkberry.co.uk