Dairy-free dining: Tredwell’s, London

Marcus Wareing’s first bistro, Tredwell’s, is a suprisingly good restaurant pick for people on a dairy-free diet…

Brasseries and bistros aren’t the first place you head when you can’t do dairy. Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese or Spanish are all usually better bets than classic French or modern British. Which is a shame, because there’s few things I love more than a restaurant with plush leather banquettes, low lighting and a very long wine list.

Hurrah then, for Marcus Wareing. The chef is best known for presenting Masterchef: The Professionals, having a minor galaxy of Michelin stars for his restaurant Marcus, and being a protégé of ol’ sweary, Gordon Ramsay. Not exactly the first chef I’d expect to cater for free-from diners. Which is why the menu at Tredwell’s is a lovely surprise.

Tredwell’s opened in Covent Garden in autumn 2014. The new EU allergen rules were about to come in (you can read more about them in this piece I wrote for The Guardian). Instead of just box-ticking and listing allergens on a sheet of paper somewhere like many restaurants, Wareing and the Tredwell’s team went two steps further. Firstly, they designed a stylish menu with a subtle but incredibly handy allergens key. Secondly, they have catered for dairy-free, gluten-free and veggie diners with several tempting options…FOR EACH COURSE.  Every dairy-avoider whose restaurant options for pud are normally sorbet-or-starve will appreciate this.

We visited Tredwell’s on an overcast Saturday lunchtime. It is a cavernous two-storey space just off Leicester Square, but inside you feel cossetted, far away from the moving statues, ticket touts and multiple Prets.

Tredwells lamb chops

To start we had a big bowl of beetroot hummus served with charred bread. The hummus was fuchsia-pink and earthy, but under-seasoned. The sticky chilli chicken wings were better – really juicy and with a piquant but not overpowering sauce. V had the sea bass with lentils and crispy shallots for a main (not dairy free), while I had the lamb chops. Forget the stingy chops you get from the supermarket, these were practically overweight there was so much flesh on them, and dripping with juice. They sat on a lake of tangy mint and bean chutney, which had a creamy, almost-risotto like texture. I’ll be going back for more of this dish. A clever side featured judiciously-cooked broccoli, golden toasted almonds, crisp little capers and a slick of almond butter. It would have been so easy to just use regular butter, but touches like this mean yet more choice for dairy-free eaters.

On to the puds and a choice – yes a choice – of dairy-free desserts. V had the coconut mousse. It was cloud-light (I think they’d whipped/aerated coconut milk) and served with pineapple, lime and mint. I had the rich, sticky but completely dairy-free brownie, with an indecent amount of coconut yogurt spooled over the top.

Tredwell’s impresses not because it is a free-from ghetto, but because it is oh-so-subtly bringing free-from cooking into the mainstream. There are plenty of dairy- and gluten-laiden dishes on the menu, but people with allergies and intolerances are also catered for, without a hoo ha. I’ll be coming back and I’ll be bringing my vegan pal, the peanut-allergic and the egg-avoider with me, as well as the lucky ones who can eat everything in sight. Finally here’s a successful, serious London restaurant where there’s something we can all eat.

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