As the daughter of a man who had a colourful variety of allergies, I have spent a lot of my life squinting at ingredients lists in supermarket aisles and learning how to ask whether thinks contain cheese in various European languages, and have a lot of sympathy for those who have to do so as a way of life. While it seems that the gluten-free bandwagon is gaining a good few stowaways these days, coeliac disease sufferers and weird-diet adopters alike will be delighted to hear that this bright, friendly café on Upper Street is their very own safe-zone. Wheat has been banished from the premises like a boy from a tweenage pyjama party, and the menu has in no way suffered from its absence.
Weekend lunch is invariably a late one, and unfortunately that meant a lot of the most tempting options on Romeo’s menu were sold out, but we snapped up a slice of the mushroom wellington and plate of the salads of the day. I’m not sure what the definition of salads is these days, but I think these ones only just counted – there wasn’t a leaf in sight. They were nutritious though, and tasty. The lentil and artichoke third had a delicious garlicky flavour, and the chickpeas with dried apricots and sundried tomatoes had some lovely spices in its mix. The pile of plain roasted vegetables was a little disappointing, but at least it tipped the pulse/veg balance in the right direction.
I’m not sure what the definition of wellington is either, but I’m more than willing to accept this one thanks to its rich and flavoursome mushroom and potato filling and crisp, golden pastry case. The pastry was so crisp, actually, that its bottom layer could not be split by table knife alone, and I worried that its gluten-free credentials had meant I was about to eat a substance that might damage some molars, but somehow it was simultaneously light, crunchy and unbreakable. The food here isn’t inventive or trendy, but it is tasty, filling and good value, which had seemed to be something Islington was forgetting how to do.
Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery
167 Upper Street, N1 1USE, 0207 345 8945
I ate as a guest of Romeo’s, because they’re nice like that.