Kent pub goes 100% gluten-free

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Bruschetta of goats cheese and beetroot served at the Duke of Edinburgh
Bruschetta of goats cheese and beetroot served at the Duke of Edinburgh

Related tags: Gluten-free diet

A Maidstone pub has launched a 100% gluten-free menu following a £130,000 refurbishment last year.

Adam Phillips, licensee of Shepherd Neame site the Duke of Edinburgh, Barming, said the decision had brought in a wide variety of new customers.

He said: "We introduced the menu at the end of February and have been overwhelmed with the response. We have had people coming down from London and all over the county to try our food and there has been a huge reaction online with more than 600 likes on Facebook already."

Phillips enlisted former colleague, chef Paul Larcombe to design the new menu.

Chef Paul Larcombe with one of his gluten-free dishes
Chef Paul Larcombe with one of the new dishes

Larcombe, whose three-year-old daughter, Layla, suffers from coeliac disease (intolerance to gluten), said: "I didn't know much about coeliac disease before Layla was born and it was scary to see how much things like bread and pasta affected her."

Gastropub-style

"I wanted to create the same gastropub-style food that regular customers could expect, just without any gluten rather than creating an 'ultra-healthy option'."

The pub offers a range of tapas-style plates at £12.50 for three or £4.50 each, including free-range Scotch eggs with sweet chutney, dressed leaves and mustard dressing, meatballs baked in tomato sauce with Parmesan crisps and mini smoked bacon-wrapped burgers with 'rustic' fries.

The pair had not anticipated how many people followed gluten-free diets, Larcombe added.

"Because everything is gluten-free in our kitchen, customers can order anything off the menu without any fear of contamination, which is a huge relief, particularly for parents like me with children who suffer from coeliac disease."

Benefits

Last September, Hampshire pub the Compass Inn, Winsor, made the transition to an entirely gluten-free menu​. Owner – and coeliac – Mop Draper spoke of the considerable benefits to the business the decision had led to.

She told local press: "People come from miles away because of what they have heard and read about us."

The gluten-free market in the UK has grown consistently during recent years, with recent research by Mintel reporting that 305 of gluten-free customers don't even suffer from coeliac disease, instead choosing the diet because it made them feel 'better' or 'healthier'.

A poll by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser ​(PMA​) of its readers revealed that just under two thirds now thought it was absolutely necessary to cater to gluten-free customers​.

Read the PMA​'s in-depth look at gluten-free catering in the pub sector​.

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