What is Locale?
Locale is a group of three restaurants located in Southbank, Fulham and Blackheath each featuring a distinct style and menu. The Southbank venue reviewed here features delicious Italian food.
Despite being within two minutes of the many nearby attractions Locale at Southbank, nestled into a corner of County Hall, offers relative peace and even boasts a small outside terrace with several tables. Decor inside is calm and elegant and there are many tables running along a long window which results in generous natural light.
Free From Menu
At the time I write this in October 2016 the gluten-free A La Carte Menu is not online. I believe this is temporary and due to an IT challenge that will hopefully be resolved. There was an online gluten-free menu when I visited and there were also separate gluten-free main and dessert menus in the restaurant itself. These are the menus you can see below.
Their pizzas are not (yet) available gluten-free but the pasta dishes are and their gluten-free fusilli or spaghetti is, as it should be, cooked in a fresh pot. A little note on the menu suggests notifying your waiter of your preferred pasta when ordering drinks to allow time for cooking. Quite a considerate touch.
In total there are four starters, over a dozen mains and half a dozen gluten-free side dishes. These include three vegetarian options, chicken, steak, lamb and seafood including a Frutti Di Mare of clams, mussels, calamari and octopus. Two of the veggie options do feature cheese so at present this probably is not a place to try and eat both gluten and dairy free. If gluten is the only allergen you need to avoid however the menu offers an impressive range. It is very nice to be confronted with a tough decision on which gluten free dishes to sample!
But, what of desserts? Please do not be limited to Fruit Salad and Sorbet. Please please please. So many restaurants with many and varied gluten-free starters, sides and mains fail at the dessert stage. By fail I mean the dreaded omnipresent here you are! Fruit Salad and Sorbet. Voila! Gluten free dessert options complete! Nay, banish these things! Apologies to anyone who actually wants them. Here Locale deserves some appreciation. Their only non-sorbet option is ice cream but wait, wait . . . . they offer seven varieties of ice cream that they make in house and serve these beautifully. Encourage them with positive feedback and maybe there will be more things here in future.
Food Glorious Food?
I enjoyed two delightful vegetarian dishes as a starter and main. The starter was their Burrata. Buffalo Mozzarella, Braised Fennel and Roast Pepper Coulis. The fennel had a punchy, smokey flavor that really grabbed my attention. The mozzarella was the soft, delicate, smooth, creamy cheese so easy to love and was complimented very well by the burst of flavor from the pepper coulis that it seemed only proper to immerse it within.
The Insalata Locale featured crumbled goats cheese together with lentils, pickled mushrooms and mixed leaves. With added olive oil this became a decadently delicious salad which I relished down to the very last lentil. It is simple, but super, and having enjoyed it so much I might just begin making this same dish at home.
It was nice to see that Sorbet was not the only gluten free dessert option. Ice cream does not usually excite but the range of flavors from the in-house made ice cream is rather impressive. With seven to choose from including Salted Caramel, Black Cherry and Lemon Meringue surely the only sensible thing to do is ask for a scoop of two or three of those that appeal most. To choose just one? Oh, the tyranny!
Would I Return?
Yes definitely and that is despite tough competition from many nearby venues also offering gluten-free meals, such as Southbank Ping Pong, Canteen, Las Iguanas, Skylon and Wahaca.
Tripadvisor shows lots of positive feedback for the service here and I noticed this too. One instance stood out. My dining companion wisely took the “trust but verify” route and asked about the ingredients of a sauce, ever wary of this familiar hiding place for wheat flour. The server immediately provided a reassuring explanation of what was and was not in the sauce. She clearly recognised the context for the question and appeared enthusiastic, pleased and perhaps a little proud of being able to answer positively. Well bravo 🙂