What was La Polenteria?
This review was written back when La Polenteria existed. It is no more! However, regret not. La Polenteria re-opened under the new name Leggero! Still 100% Gluten Free, same people, same owner. The Leggero menu is far more diverse than that which La Polenteria had. Jump over to a full review of Leggero!
If you stay to read this review . . . . you are reading history! Delicious history, but still history!
La Polenteria very proudly describes itself as the first 100% Gluten Free Italian Restaurant in London and is Coeliac UK certified.
La Polenteria is a great friend to the gluten-free community too. For example they they exhibited at the Free From Festival at Brick Lane and hosted a panel discussion during Coeliac Awareness Week. in 2016 and also entered and enjoyed a Highly Commended outcome within the 2015 Free From Food Eating Out Awards.
Menu and Venue
In addition to being 100% gluten free many of the dishes are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and people with nut allergies. La Polenteria is one of few restaurants where one can find numerous gluten-free, dairy free and nut free choices available. The menu very clearly indicates allergens present in each dish.
There is a mixture of conventional dishes like as Liver & Bacon with mashed potatoes and a wonderful streak of their own creative dishes. On the newly launched Autumn menu they have introduced several dishes featuring handmade teff pasta such as Teff Lemon Raviolini stuffed with crab, topped with courgette and ginger cream. It feels like someone is having great fun, or perhaps applying great effort and skill, designing new delights to feature. Perhaps both :-)
Polenta, cornmeal flour cooked in hot water with a little salt, makes in appearance in many of their dishes and there is a huge blackboard explaining polenta for the yet to be initiated. If you have not yet tried polenta there is probably no better place.
Because this is a 100% gluten free venue it does not suffer the dearth of desserts that blights restaurants that otherwise have a great gluten free range of dishes. Yes, I am talking about the fruit salad / sorbet choice. I scream silently whenever presented with it. Here we have tiramisu and cheesecake and chocolate and avocado mousse and . . . they had me at tiramisu.
Also recently launched is a dedicated Brunch menu available from 1100 to 1600 featuring something I think I simply must return to sample – Aubergine pie stuffed with goat cheese, tomatoes and capers served with their homemade sorghum foccacia bread.
Finally, they offer a Grab & Go Menu for food to collect and take away, great idea. This contains many of the dishes on the main menu. If you prefer your food brought to you it is available via Deliveroo.
Food Glorious Food?
I set off determined to try the tiramisu but first filled myself with virtue in the form of a side salad of greens, tomatoes and polenta which I happily showered with olive oil.
Then I had a starter of Aubergine Caponata and the in-house made bread. I have little fondness for bread. When it is available gluten free in restaurants I often prefer not to eat it. I find the main dishes more interesting and more nutritious. Since this was made in-house however I decided to try a bite and . . . . then I finished it. Made mainly from brown rice flour it was soft on the inside with a wonderfully satisfyingly crunch crust on the outside sprinkled with salt crystals that delivered tiny hits of flavor.
This is where my Tiramisu plan went wrong. Curse you, surprisingly nice bread!
My main was Polenta Gnocchi with Salmon and Sundried Tomatoes. The presentation of this was quite marvelous and a superb appetite stimulant. Luscious. Juicy. Tasty.
Now I reach the only sad note in this otherwise happy tale. By this point I was rather well fed. Mentally, I wanted that Tiramisu but physically, nope, no deal. My brain made a deal with my body that resulted in a promise to return in future. Maybe I will go back just for dessert . . .
Autumn 2016 Menu Update
Determined to enjoy the Tiramisu, I returned along with 4 fellow gluten-free diners from the London Gluten-Free Meetup Club.
Conversation and friendly service were lovely highlights and amongst the food, the new Chestnut Pasta with orange and mushroom was intriguing in a good way. The sweetness of the chestnuts combined with the orange were noteworthy and so different from most pastas, including the range of Teff Pasta dishes now on the menu.
Amongst our little group we had 3 desserts. There was a clear winner for gorgeous looks – a Chocolate and Avocado Mousse – which just happened to also be the sole (but wonderful) option for our gluten-free and vegan diner. I felt just a pang of envy but . . . then I finally had my Tiramisu.
Would I Return?
Absolutely. An entire menu to explore with confidence of safety and flavor offered along with friendly service.
Also, I must, for the Tiramisu. It calls to me.