Review: Four Barrel Coffee

The last stop on the road trip around America in May was San Francisco. My boyfriend and I drove from Denver down to the Grand Canyon and back up the Californian coast. We decided to fly out from here so we could meet up a friend that came to Sydney for a short project last year. Also, there are direct flights from San Fran to Sydney (San Fran and LA are the only direct flights from Sydney that I know of). So for a month we have been having American style coffee which is a lot weaker than what we have here as drip coffee seems to be their thang.

We were just killing some time in Portola, San Fran and stumbled across this little cafe tucked away at the end of a dead end road. It’s called Four Barrel Coffee. You can check out their site here.

coffee3

It was so different to all the Starbucks around. It was more like home! Think the coffee shops in Sydney and Melbourne. I ordered a decaf long black which fit in with my low salicylate diet whilst my boyfriend ordered an espresso, or maybe it was a double? I liked the coffee as it wasn’t as strong as the long blacks in Sydney but not as watery as Starbucks Americanos. I actually don’t drink that much coffee so I don’t know if it was “good” or not but that is subjective right? In addition to coffees they also served teas and toast with a variety of spreads from almond butter to cinnamon sugar.

coffee

Service here was friendly and vibe trendy. It seems to be a renovated warehouse and keeps up with trend of keeping things raw and industrial. We came near lunchtime and it was practically empty (unlike home!) so service was also prompt. The front of the cafe catches the sun so we decided to sit outside where some stools were set up. It was such a nice and warm day, actually bordering on hot! Was really the great way to end the trip. It got our taste buds ready for the coffee awaiting back in Sydney

coffee2

Four Barrel Coffee, Portola is located at 2 Burrows Street, San Francisco. It opens 7am-4pm everyday.

Urban Pantry – Canberra

During a visit to Canberra a friend from Sydney (who has recently moved down there for work) met up with us. We decided to grab a late lunch after my boyfriend went mountain biking in the morning, and I biked around Lake Burley Griffin.

We stumbled upon Urban Pantry in the trendy Manuka area while we sourced the streets for a place that served gluten free food. This cafe style eatery has a trendy, vintage feel and delivered on the gluten free front and so we decided it would be the perfect place to eat. Inside is nice and cosy but there is also nice outdoor seating under a MASSIVE tree for when the weather is good.

I ordered the chicken risotto (gluten free) to share with my boyfriend whist my friend ordered the chilli seafood linguini (unfortunately I didn’t get a snap of it). The risotto was nice and creamy with a decent amount of chicken breast pieces scattered through. The baby spinach was nicely wilted but definitely far from being cooked which gave a lot of freshness. On top was a little blob of soft cheese (brie or camembert – I can’t remember). My boyfriend said he wasn’t so hungry and only wanted to try a bit but he ate half of it so he must have liked it!

20140425_143256

Chicken and spinach risotto

I also ordered some parmesan polenta fries to try (probably not gluten free – cross contamination in the deep fryer). Last time I quite liked polenta fries because it came with a blue cheese sauce which was probably why I was so keen to order this at the time. However, with polenta chips you need to remember that unless you cooked them with some sort of stock or embed bits of pop all through it, it actually is quite bland. These were no different, they were plain polenta chips that was soft and moist inside with a nice crispy exterior. The parmesan and chives were a nice pop of saltyness and freshness amongst all the polenta but I felt like it needed more parmesan to go around. These were surprisingly very filling!

20140425_143315

Parmesan polenta fries

It’s a nice place serving quality food in a nice area. I’d come back, also because my boyfriend didn’t get glutened which gives extra brownie points! You can check out their website here for their latest menus: http://www.urban-pantry.com.au/

 

***Originally published Oct 2014 on my previous blog***

Pages Cafe – West Ryde

Pages Cafe has been on my list to visit for a long time as it had rave reviews by a coeliac blogger. She wrote that they are very coeliac and cross-conmatination aware as the manager’s wife also has the condition. Not long after a Groupon voucher came out for breakfast for two at this cafe and I took it as a sign to visit! Pages cafe is located in Koorong Bookstore and opposite West Ryde Station. The place is well maintained, well lit and have plenty of seating outdoors next to the children’s playground.

The voucher was for two breakfasts and two drinks and we were surprised that we were not charged extra for having gluten free meals. I ordered the veggie breakfast (which isn’t gluten free) with a mocha. It was epically large and I struggled to finish it all! It came with wilted spinach, fried tomatoes, a perfectly poached egg, toasted sourdough bread and delicious fried halloumi cheese. To be honest, I only ordered this because halloumi cheese is my weakness… and it was totally worth it! Everything was delicious and I apologise for getting to the breakfast before I took a photo. In my defense I rode my bike to this place…

Half eaten veggie breakkie (Sorry!)

Half eaten veggie breakkie (Sorry!)

My boyfriend ordered a bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato toasted sandwich on gluten free bread with a flat white coffee. However, he got to it before I could get a photo in! I guess you would just have to trust him that it was yummo! He did follow up his breakfast with a slice of gluten free almond and berry cake which I was able to quickly snap a photo. It was a large moist slice topped with icing sugar and some strawberry sauce.

Almond and berry cake

Almond and berry cake

They have a lot of gluten free options at this place but unfortunately my boyfriend did feel a little sick later and we were not sure if there was some gluten contamination or it was something else that didn’t agree with his gut. It may have been the decorative sauce or icing sugar from the cake as we forgot to advise the server that he was a coeliac and just assumed they knew.

20140329_095102

Another cool thing I found there was that they also do suspended coffees. If you haven’t heard of this yet, it means that you can essentially pre-pay someone else’s coffee. Someone who really needs a coffee and doesn’t have enough money can then go in and ask the counter if there are any suspended coffees available and get one if there is. I have heard many coffee places do this in America.

20140329_103401

All in all, the meals here are delicious, good value for money and they have a large range of gluten free options just make sure you are very clear about being coeliac!

 

***Originally published Jul 2014 on my previous blog***

 

Chattie’s Komachi

Last year at the Gluten Free Expo I was talking to a Japanese lady about her rice based pasta and breads. I was looking through some old flyers I picked up from that day and found out that they had opened a cafe. I had to take my bike in for service in Chatswood so I thought it would be a good excuse to try out their food. The lady was really helpful with advising us what could be made gluten free or not. She said the laksa “should be” fine, she didn’t think that there was any gluten but I will never know… She used thin rice noodles for me (vermicelli) but it’s hard to say since I am not coeliac. I feel like she knew what she was talking about but just had difficulty fully expressing herself in English (she’s Japanese). For $12 I got this MASSIVE bowl of laksa (all laksa was $12 even if you picked seafood!). The vermicelli noodles also pack together a lot more efficiently than fatter noodles so there was HEAPS in there. Being of Malaysian background, I am a little picky with my laksa but this one was pretty good! It was quite spicy with lots of flavour but unfortunately no fried onion. The shredded spring onions added a lot of yummy freshness!

Chicken Laksa

Chicken Laksa

The staff told us that they have gluten free pizza bases and bread that was made with high quality rice flour imported from Japan. We were surprised when they gave us a piece of bread to try. It was sooooooooooooooooo soft, completely opposite to ALL the GF breads you could ever buy. Almost like a sponge cake, well a little more dense than that. The bread was actually quite sweet, a lot like other breads from asian bakeries. It reminded me of these rice cakes we used to eat a kids. They were steamed rice cakes that were actually quite oily but so delicious. This probably is way more healthy for you with the same taste!

Rice flour bread

Rice flour bread…well what was left of it

My boyfriend tried out the cakes they had on offer which were majority gluten free and dairy free. He bought the coffee swiss roll. I stole a bit and I can tell you now, that it was REALLY good. Both the cake and the cream were very light so you could eat the whole roll and not notice it. I didn’t try the cream puff but I was told that it was “sooo good”. They also had cheesecake which I wanted to try but unfortunately the laksa was too filling for me to fit it in. He didn’t complain to me of feeling “glutened” so I that’s a good sign!

Gluten free cakes!

Gluten free cakes!

We didn’t get a chance to ask if they sold the bread but I would like to see if we can just buy the bread on its own. If not maybe we can buy the rice flour that they use and see if they will divulge their secret recipe!

 

***Originally published Sep 2013 on my previous blog***