Apres Food Co. kindly gifted me a wonderful lunch at their central London restaurant.
Firstly, can I just say how happy I am to be writing about a restaurant again? Lockdown has really given me a chance to reflect on what I enjoy doing - and that's eating out. Specifically in a place that is 100% gluten free. My trip to Apres Food Co. was the first time I had eaten out since lockdown, and what a wonderful experience it was.
Apres is an entirely gluten free and refined sugar free restaurant in central London. It opened in January 2017 after many months of developing their nutrient rich menu and rennovating their St John Street location. Apres's focus is to serve balanced and wholesome food that is still a joy to eat, and to show you that there doesn't have to be a choice between eating tasty or eating healthy food. Prior to opening the restaurant, co-owners Catherine and Danny both had a background in food. Danny managed a gastropub, and had a keen interest in sports and nutrition and Catherine was a chef and nutritional therapist. Their chance meeting in Danny's gastropub and following conversations about nutrition sparked what was to become Apres today.
When I came by, Catherine and Danny had just started serving a small 'dine-in/takeaway' menu of flat bread pizza and pasta, both entirely made from scratch. I ordered both. The pasta was served with roasted cherry tomatoes, green pesto, and rocket, and the flatbread pizza with a homemade sauce, roasted courgettes, mozzarella and dressed rocket leaves. I can honestly say that I was not able to pick a favourite. The pasta dish was perfect. The pasta itself was made from their own flour blend, and had the perfect amount of pesto as not to take away from the pasta itself. The cherry tomatoes also brung a lovely sweetness to the dish.
The flatbread pizza base was incredible, from what I could tell it was made with gluten free grains, which gave it a lot more taste than a normal base. As far as gluten free pizza bases go, this was top tier. Not rubbery, dry, orcardboard-like, and that alone get full marks from me. On top, the combination of the sweet tomato sauce, and the slightly spicy rocket greens blended perfectly. In terms of portion, I was very full after eating both so you could definitely get away with ordering just one, but as I had walked an hour to get there, and was about to walk an hour back home it was the perfect amount for me. Even though I was very full after the meal, I didn't feel heavy or bloated. A rarity after eating pasta!
Like many restaurants during the lockdown, Apres had to change they way they ran their business to stay open. This has led to them creating both fresh and frozen deliverable meals, as well as food kits that you can make at home. Here is a link to the 'Apres On Demand' website, if you'd like to check out for yourself. I am planning on getting a few bits and pieces so will update this blog when I do.
I would also like to quickly mention that the service was faultless. The front of house staff is Archie, a Jack Russell/Whippet Cross who warmly greeted me at the door, and was very good with checking in with how my meal was going. He even went so far as to keep me company as I was dining alone (he needs a pay rise).
Chatting to the owners during lunch made me reflect on the restaurant industry and the effects felt because of the pandemic. Many places, often with no choice, have closed for the entire lockdown, some of those will never get to reopen. Some, like Apres Food Co., have changed their entire operation to stay open for the public, and said goodbye to the traditional sit-in dining restaurant structure for several months. Not an easy task to complete! It was clear to me that the amazing resilience and hard work that has kept Apres Food Co. open has come from the passion of Catherine and Danny. I've already written a blog post on the importance of supporting small business during lockdown but I just want to reiterate that if you are a foodie like me, and have the means - please consider supporting your favourite gluten free businesses during this time and show them how much we appreciate having safe places to eat!
I had an absolutely wonderful experiences at Apres Food Co. and would highly recommend visiting if you are in London. I will definitely be visiting again soon.