Being gluten free in 2015 often feels like being a vegetarian in the 90s – there are few options and restaurants and cafés don't always understand what you can't have. Luckily, over the past few years a number of places in Leeds have improved labelling on their menus, introduced a range of options and learned that not all of us can have bread, pasta and a vast array of tasty treats and cakes – and not just because we're calorie counting.
To save you building your own map of gluten-free friendly places here's a run down of three favourites, where you can be just as gluttonous as those who don't have to analyse menus for wheat, barley and other gluten nasties.
2 Oxford Place, City Centre
Lets face it, nowhere is going to beat a 100 per cent gluten-free restaurant and why should it? The option to browse an entire menu and feel like a kid in a sweet shop is an experience hard to come by so when the opportunity arises, grasp it with both hands. It doesn't matter if you're looking for an indulgent pancake brunch, a sophisticated three-course dinner or a cheeky sweet treat that isn't your standard shop-bought gluten-free cherry bakewell – 2 Oxford Place has it all. If only they were open on a Sunday again for their scrumptious Sunday lunch.
For special occasions, 2 Oxford Place have set menus too. Go for Fritto Misto (calamari, whitebait and prawns with aioli), followed by chicken with wild mushrooms, and round it off with the assiette of puddings to share.
© Paula Brown @ Ollivision
Pinche Pinche, Chapel Allerton
Mexican is a great gluten-free choice for a night out, where you can still dig in and share dishes. Many of the tortillas and corn chips are made with corn flour rather than traditional wheat flour, putting you firmly in the safe zone. In addition, Pinche Pinche's new Mexican street food menu is almost entirely gluten-free so you can indulge in dishes you might not have the opportunity to try elsewhere. Even if something isn't marked GF on the menu, check with the server as they're consistently improving their gluten-free options.
If you're on a budget and don't have the biggest appetite pick two dishes each, but if you're in for the long haul and need plenty of food to soak up the booze, go for three. The sopes are of a doughnut-like consistency and are utterly delicious, but make sure you order something a little lighter to accompany.
On busy evening, you'll only have your table for a set amount of time unless you're on the last sitting. Know you're on a timer and consider a second location for further romancing.
Fazenda, Granary Wharf
Sometimes you want to avoid gluten-free substitutes and just get stuck in and Fazenda is a great place for gorging your way through naturally gluten-free foods. At this Brazilian restaurant, you pick up what you fancy from their extensive salad bar (don't eat too much or you'll miss out on the good stuff!) and then sit back and relax as the passadores (meat chefs) offer you different cuts of meat.
You'll have a coloured card by your plate with one side green and the other red – keep the green side face-up until you're fit to burst and then turn it over so red shows you're done. If you're worried about marinades, just double-check with the passadore.
Like most restaurants in the city, Fazenda have a dedicated menu for Valentine's and other special occasions, which features 15 cuts of meat, sparkling wine and desserts to share. It's certainly one way to win a man's heart.