What is The Waterfront?
The Waterfront at Whitehaven is a bar and restaurant located adjacent to the Whitehaven harbor offering lunch, evening meals and afternoon tea. It currently occupies the number #2 slot for Restaurants in Whitehaven on TripAdvisor. This accolade in combination with several endorsements from gluten free diners and the appearance of falafel on the menu convinced me to visit.
Free From Menu
Menus are visible online but do neither those or the Waterfront website offer any hint of their will or skill to cater gluten free or for other dietary intolerances or allergies. This should be changed since my experience and that of others indicates that the capability exists and is happily provided.
I called in advance to check on their ability to cater for a coeliac. The first responder simply told me “yes” and passed me to the manager when I presented follow up questions about how they could do this and what dishes were available. The manager was knowledgeable and enthusiastic and encouraging. This gave me confidence and eagerness to visit. Upon arrival our server immediately asked who among us was the coeliac indicating that my message whilst making a reservation had been retained and noted.
The menu offers a wide range of dishes with an emphasis on locally caught fish, meat from a local butcher and fruit and veg from a local grocer. I was guided to safe dishes and those that could be adapted by Matthew the Chef. Fried foods for gluten free diners are fried in a clean frying pan or with fresh oil in a simple deep fat fryer after thorough cleaning and use of fresh oil. Grilled foods under a salamander grill are grilled on separate surfaces to those used for foods containing gluten. Bought-in gluten free bread is available as an alternative to their home-made bread and I was offered gluten free croutons in dishes normally including those. In sum, awareness, capability and a desire to please all point towards a safe and enjoyable dining experience.
Food Glorious Food?
My picks were were a specials board starter of Sweet Potato & Red Lentil soup, two veggie option main dishes of Roasted Mushrooms and Falafel (I was hungry) and then I dared to ask for the dessert options. Or rather, I speculated with my fellow diners on whether there would be *any* gluten free desserts. A nearby server overhead and gladly confirmed to me that yes there was. I gladly confirmed in response that I would order one.
My soup was hearty, thick and creamy and a deep autumnal orange. I have great love for thick and creamy soups and this one was as pleasing and flavorsome as any I have had. Wonderful start.
Roasted Mushrooms came topped with glazed goats cheese and red onion marmalade. The simple combination of meaty mushrooms, tangy sweet red onion garnish and soft, flavor rich goats cheese was loveable. I particularly relished the red onion and delighting in finding and savouring every extra mouthful. The falafels were falafel burgers within which were whole, chunky chickpeas. The mild flavor of the burgers and slightly crispy texture were well complimented by a generous avocado, cucumber and mint puree.
Dessert options were limited to cheese which I had already enjoyed with my mains. There was a some kind of fruit ensemble, but fruit is not a dessert! Thankfully there was also a Panna Cotta, duly ordered. The plating of this was pretty and appealing as were the (non gluten free, alas) brownies with ice cream and honeycomb enjoyed by my non gluten free dining companions. Go ahead Waterfront, introduce a gluten free brownie. Make it the gooey, chocolatey kind.
Would I Return?
Yes without doubt. I felt safe and excellently served. The menu offered plenty of appealing choices including four vegetarian options. I do encourage Waterfront to add allergen information to their menu and indicate what they can do to cater for free from diners. Oh yes, and introduce that gluten free brownie, every restaurant everywhere needs a gluten free brownie!