Plaice to Be – Pitlochry

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 8/10
  • What I ate: gluten-free haddock and chips

Let me start by saying the only reason I have not rated the Plaice to Be 10 out of 10 is because any food that is deep fried is not really that good for you. Thus, too much grease or oil can cause some people to have a sore tummy and I can’t encourage that on a blog dedicated to healing irritable stomachs. But, my scoring is in no way a reflection of the quality of the food because the taste is amazing.

My trip to the Plaice to Be came about when I was recently visiting family in Pitlochry (2 hours North of Edinburgh). Not only do I love the play on words that the owners of Plaice to Be have created but I also love the fish. Plaice to Be pride themselves on being able to provide a gluten-free alternative to a British classic and as a result, they have earned themselves a strong reputation within the village. The fish is fried separately to ‘normal’ batter to avoid any cross contamination. I have found with other gluten-free fish that the batter is either soggy or very dry but this is just perfect. Alongside the crisp batter, the chips are everything you would expect from a chippy and compliment it beautifully.

Plaice to Be

The Plaice to Be sadly do not have a website that I can direct you to however I strongly advise a stop off if you are ever in the area. I can almost smell the salt and vinegar…!

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Basement – Broughton Street

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 3/10
  • What I ate: chicken fajitas with gluten-free tortillas

To celebrate a work colleague’s birthday, a few of us headed to Basement on Broughton Street. Although we only had an hour or so, we had heard positive reviews of the food but more importantly, about the Margaritas. As always, I had taken a look at the menu before heading out to eat so I was aware that there was not much I could eat however, as a Mexican based restaurant, this was to be expected.

To start, we ordered a bowl of nachos however the dips were served on the side so I could benefit from the chips, sour cream and cheese whilst avoiding the garlic based guacamole and salsa.

When chosing my main, I spent most of the time drooling over the various burritos and spicy dishes that were available. Eventually, after much discussion with the waiter, I settled for gluten-free chicken fajitas with the onion and garlic removed. I must add, this was the only low FODMAP option on the menu.

Although in good company, we were disappointed (and hungry) having to wait 50 minutes from having our nachos (shared between 4) to receiving our mains. When my main course did arrive, it was sizzling away and smelt amazing. Both the chicken and peppers were chargrilled and tasted fantastic however the gluten-free wraps were extremely disappointing, tasting like sawdust and falling apart. As soon as the mixture was added to the wrap, it would collapse and run all over your hand. As a result, I ended up eating the chicken and vegetables with a fork and leaving the wraps.

BasementAlthough I had quite a negative experience in terms of the time that we had to wait for food and for that food to then be disappointing, I would go back to Basement for drinks. Even though we visited at lunchtime, there was a good vibe about the place and I’m still wanting to try their famous Margaritas!

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Tupiniquim – Quartermile

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 7/10
  • What I ate: “Marguerita Ta Ta” – tomato, basil, spinach, mozzarella, avocado & pesto gluten-free crepe

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Although Turpiniquim sells food, you couldn’t really call it a restaurant. It is essentially a food kiosk selling amazing tasting gluten-free, sweet or savoury, Brazilian style crepes. The savoury crepes are slightly more expensive, at around £5 but you do get a lot for your money with ingredients that are fresh and cooked right in front of you.

Considering I live a stones throw from Turpiniquim, I have only had 2 crepes in the year that I have been living in Edinburgh – both times during the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Last year, before I started on my low FODMAP journey, I opted for the Chicken Curry Piri-Piri crepe and it was heavenly. So when I returned this year, with fellow low FODMAP blogger Sarah (The Wee Foddie), I was slightly disappointed to discover that it was pre-made with onions. On reflection, the staff of Turpiniquim are operating from a hut, at an extremely busy time of year, so food preparation is key to their business.

Pushing my disappointment to one side, I settled for the “Marguerita Ta Ta”. This is made fresh with tomatoes, basil, spinach, mozzarella, avocado and pesto. Although pesto is not always low FODMAP, it is applied sparingly to the toppings so I did not worry about this too much. As Turpiniquim is so popular, especially at 7:30pm on a Saturday night during the Fringe, there was a wait of about 20 minutes but it was definitely worth it. Your crepe is served piping hot which allows the cheese to melt and avocado to soften. Like the name suggests, it does taste very similar to a Margherita pizza but due to gravity and the way the crepe is served, a lot of the ingredients are pushed to the middle/bottom of the crepe so you enjoy a variety of flavours as you eat.

Although there are not many low FODMAP options, it’s amazing to have gluten-free crepes so readily available. It may have taken me a year to re-visit this fast food hot spot but I’m likely to return this weekend to indulge and settle my sweet craving.

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Gustos – George St, New Town

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 5/10
  • What I ate: “Garganelli Arrabiata” – gluten-free pasta with tomato, chilli, mozzarella, fresh basil & pepperoni. Followed by, pistachio and chocolate ice cream

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I should start by highlighting that pepperoni is not necessarily low FODMAP. And yes, I knew this, but sometimes you just can’t resist the things you want (within moderation).

I recently visited Gustos when my family and friends were up for a long weekend. Our friends have twins aged 10 and so we wanted to find a restaurant that was not only close to where they were staying but offered a wide selection of food which could accommodate their desire for pizza as well as catering for my needs. Gustos menu is quite vast and they have a nice mix; from meat and seafood to risottos, pizzas and pasta.

I opted for the “Garganelli Arrabiata” with gluten-free pasta and ensured that this would be cooked without onion or garlic. The waitress was very attentive and even brought an allergen list to the table so that I could check what was in each dish. Unfortunately I am yet to find an allergen menu that shows onion or garlic as an ingredient to avoid, it’s always the same; ‘lactose’, ‘gluten’, ‘eggs’ etc. However, the fact that restaurants are now producing these lists and taking the time to read through the menu with you, is a very positive step in the right direction.

My pasta was absolutely lovely (although quite spicy) and I savoured every mouthful. My only criticism would be that I ate it too quickly and could have eaten more. However, this is a classic example of being greedy and over-eating. On the bright side, it saved space for dessert!

I would definitely recommend Gustos to those who are gluten-free. Although I did not try one of the “main” meals, I would hazard a guess that the meat is pre-marinated and therefore hard to adapt for low FODMAP needs. But, you’ll never know, until you ask!

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The Wee Restaurant – Frederick St, New Town

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 3/10
  • What I ate: flat iron steak, sauteed potatoes and spinach
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Yes I know, you just look at that picture and know this sauce is not low FODMAP….

My colleagues and I took clients to The Wee Restaurant earlier this week. It’s recently opened on Edinburgh’s Frederick Street and we were keen to see what it was like. On entering the room, we were greeted with fantastic smells, smart decor and friendly staff. So far, so good.

After starting the meal with a delicious bottle of white Rioja, I was confident that the rest of the meal would be a success (maybe the wine went to my head). Having looked at the menu prior to our visit, I went with no illusion that the food options were going to be low FODMAP. The dishes were quite fancy (including food I’d never even heard of!) and appeared to be complemented with rich sauces and flavouring. The one dish I knew would be okay was the steak. Even within the company of family and friends, I still get embarrassed about pulling menus apart and asking my usual 20 questions, so you can imagine this is heightened when in the presence of clients.

As it was lunchtime, I went for the “lunchtime special” of flat iron steak with sautéed potato and spinach. I was torn between that or the mackerel salad and was told both could be adapted to suit my low FODMAP needs, with a special effort to exclude garlic or onions.

When the food arrived, I was surprised at how small the portions were. I believe my colleague had about 1 baby potato on his plate along with a small helping of mackerel. Granted, this was the lunchtime menu however the dishes were not cheap.

As soon as I had the first mouthful of my steak, the taste of garlic filled my mouth and overpowered my senses. Having not eaten it for so long, my sense of smell and taste has intensified. As I already felt uncomfortable having asked so many questions of the waitress in front of people that I did not know that well, there was no way that I wanted to complain. Silly, I know. As a result, begrudgingly, I ate the majority of my food. I cannot begin to explain how the taste of garlic stayed in my mouth for the rest of that day, up until I went to bed, and it was awful. It’s so bizarre how your body gets used to something and when that’s stripped from your diet for a prolonged period of time, you can really notice the difference.

On reflection, I wish that I had said something to the staff as I should not have had to eat something that I was intolerant of. If I had said I had a peanut allergy, I’m sure they would have taken my request a lot more seriously and bent over backwards to ensure it was kept off my plate. This is one of the common struggles that low FODMAP and IBS sufferers have when not in control of what they are eating: you place a lot of trust in those who are serving you.

Now don’t get me wrong, my fellow diners could not sing The Wee Restaurant’s praises any louder – fantastic wine and great quality food. The only negative that we had was the portion sizes, however my colleague referred to her dessert as being one of the best she’d had in a long time and if she was not in the presence of colleagues, she would have “licked the bowl”. Now, that’s a compliment.

For those who are on the low FODMAP diet, I would not recommend The Wee Restaurant. However, if you do not suffer from IBS and the need to restrict your diet, The Wee Restaurant has plenty to offer.

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Smoke Stack – Broughton St

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 6/10
  • What I ate: salmon fillet with olive tapenade butter and crushed potatoes

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I recently went for a client lunch at Smoke Stack on Edinburgh’s Broughton Street. Having been once before, I was aware of what the menu had to offer (along with staring at it repeatedly before my trip – as always). On my previous visit, I did in fact have the same meal. Having spoken with the waitress, I was aware that this particular dish did not include any garlic or onions. The only aspect of the dish which I was slightly concerned about was the olive tapenade, however this turned out to be absolutely fine and totally delicious.

On my second visit to Smoke Stack, I went with the intention to try something different, opting for the cajun chicken salad. I assumed that this would be an easy low FODMAP option however the waitress informed me that the chicken was marinated in garlic prior to cooking, so was automatically ruled out. In that moment, feeling under pressure to make a decision, I reverted back to the salmon dish – if it’s not broke….

Smoke stack offer a great, varied menu along with a lunchtime “express” menu for lighter, cheaper alternatives. Now that I’ve found this restaurant, that is only a short distance from work, I have a feeling I will be visiting more often. Although there are not that many low FODMAP options, the Asian beef salad has definitely caught my eye and I will be trying that on my next visit.

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Treacle – Broughton St

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 7/10
  • What I ate: crying tiger beef, sliced chilli, toasted pine nuts, rice noodles, coriander, pak choi

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As Treacle is located a few doors down from my office, it’s a regular hot-spot for my colleagues and myself. Not only does their menu highlight what is gluten-free, the staff are very accommodating when you explain what your allergies/intolerance are.

Although there are a lot of gluten-free food options, not all of the menu is low FODMAP. My personal favourite and ultimate go-to dish is the beef rice noodles with pak choi and pine nuts. The beef, served pink, is perfectly tender and simply delicious. The dish does come with a peanut dressing however this is always served on the side and does include garlic so I avoid including this.

On my last visit to Treacle, I asked for gluten-free soy sauce to have with my noodles. Unfortunately they had run out however the waitress personally went to the shop next door to buy more which I was extremely grateful for.

The only downside of Treacle is the time that it takes for food to arrive after ordering. As my colleagues and I are pushed for time during lunch hours, we have now began to order in advance so the food is ready for when we get there.

Treacle is definitely a great place for food and over the last year that I’ve been living in Edinburgh, I’ve been countless times. Even if you’re not in the market for food, but just want a drink, Treacle offers a wide range of great cocktails and this is measured by how busy it gets on a Friday and Saturday night.

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Salisbury Arms – Dalkeith Rd

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 5/10
  • What I ate: chicken, bacon & avocado salad with baby kale, spinach, tenderstem broccoli and an English cider & honey mustard dressing

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I’ve walked past the Salisbury Arms on the South East side of Edinburgh, quite a few times, and always been intrigued to try it. So when I was in that part of town and the opportunity arose, we decided to test out their lunchtime menu.

The Salisbury Arms is not quite a “gastropub” however it has a very relaxed, sophisticated and ‘country pub’ feel to it. Although the interior design of the pub is pleasant and the staff very friendly, the meal choices were not great for someone on a low FODMAP diet. As it was lunchtime, I was looking to have something quite light. The lunch time options consisted of sandwiches and burgers, neither of which were low FODMAP or gluten-free. So as a result, I went for the chicken and bacon salad. The salad was nice enough and I liked the fact that it consisted of cucumber peel and broccoli, as this made it slightly different to normal.

I would definitely return to the Salisbury Arms for drinks however it would not be the first place that I rush to when wanting a low FODMAP meal.

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The Golden Dragon – City Centre

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 7/10
  • What I ate: beef with cashew nuts, chicken with mixed vegetables & egg fried rice

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I have been craving Chinese cuisine for weeks and last night, I took a FODMAP risk, and settled that craving.

Since starting the low FODMAP diet nearly 10 months ago, I have not indulged on Chinese food as I’m conscious of the number of ingredients that go into the dishes. However, having enjoyed a few glasses of wine, I could not resist temptation any longer. Whilst sat in the pub, my boyfriend and I ‘Googled’ the best Chinese restaurants within Edinburgh and came across The Golden Dragon. Naturally I analysed the menu to identify a dish that would suit my dietary requirements as I wanted to go with an idea of what I could eat and then ask my usual 20 questions. What reassured me, and one of the reasons for choosing the Golden Dragon, was due to the “allergy advice” caveat at the beginning of the menu.

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We were greeted from what appeared to be the manager and she was extremely helpful in going through the menu with me and suggesting dishes that would suit my gluten-free low FODMAP diet. As I said to S at the time, she was possibly the most helpful person that I have come across when choosing food to suit my requirements.

Having taken the waitress’ advice that we should avoid the satay chicken due to a pre-made sauce containing garlic and gluten, we chose beef with cashew nuts and chicken with mixed vegetables. Both dishes were delicious and I think I enjoyed them all the more as it had been so long since I enjoyed them. I did have to avoid quite a few mushrooms as well as not eating too many cashews but as I knew to look out for these, there was not an issue.

Now that I have taken the risk of introducing a new cuisine into my diet (and not facing any issues), I am hoping that I will continue to have the confidence to do this. Obviously I will always be cautious of what I’m eating however the low FODMAP diet is challenging enough as it is, without having to exclude your favourite foods. As I found last night, variations and modifications can always be made to dishes.

Now that I have been made aware of the Golden Dragon with their delicious food and helpful staff, I will spend most Saturday nights trying to resist temptation!

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Loudons Cafe – Fountainbridge

  • low FODMAP Edinburgh rating: 9/10
  • What I ate: Banana and Coconut pancakes followed by gluten-free Coffee and Walnut cake

Loudons menu

I’ve been desperate to try Loudons Cafe since I first moved to Edinburgh. A friend from work told me about the great range of gluten-free options so when I recently met up with my friend and fellow low FODMAP blogger, Sarah, aka The Wee Foddie, I thought what better place to try?

As we both follow the low FODMAP diet, we had scanned the menu prior to meeting and had an idea of what we were going to eat. I was tempted by the gluten-free quiche however the special that day included leek so I had to avoid this. The waitress, who was both extremely helpful and attentive, explained that the Banana and Coconut pancakes were a favourite with a lot of gluten-free customers. The pancakes were served with chopped banana, strawberries and maple syrup and were absolutely amazing. I was worried that they would be too sweet however they were just the right level of sweetness along with having a light and fluffy consistency.

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Sarah went for the crayfish open sandwich on gluten-free bread and having tried a mouthful, I can say that this was also a great choice. Whilst we had indulged in our main course, we did not stop there – it was time for cake! Loudons have such a great range of gluten-free cakes that it would have been rude to leave without trying one. I had the gluten-free coffee and walnut, whilst Sarah had the polenta, orange and almond slice. Both cakes were very moist and light which is often not found with gluten-free baking. Although my cake was good, I would not rush to have it again and started to regret not going with my initial choice of the gluten-free chocolate torte. However, I can save that for the next trip!

Having spent nearly a year living in Edinburgh, I wish I had tried Loudons sooner. It verges on perfect for those who have specific dietary requirements and the staff are so friendly, there is no awkwardness about asking for alterations to your dish.

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