With a party of 14, we brought together new and existing members of the Geeky fraternity. Two of our newer recruits, Gillian and Claire, both of whom are coeliac, so adhere to a gluten-free diet, have taken the helm on writing up our thoughts on the evening, not least because the gluten-free offering was every bit as impressive as the vegan selection at One Square.
Eating out when gluten free can be a challenge. Edinburgh is a city where options are plentiful, but there are still times when I feel, as a diner, I am treated as more ‘special needs’ than special. You know, you see the menu, it all looks really tempting and dishes that should be gluten free, somehow aren’t. Then you order, and the plate looks pitiful compared to your dining companions – half the good stuff is missing and you are left wishing you had stayed at home.
The Total Food Geeks had arranged to try the tasting menu at Locanda De Gusti and we sampled an immense amount of food. The dishes were too numerous to mention as we tasted four courses of Locanda delights, as well as polishing off all the stock of their excellent house red.
Starters included grilled vegetables, prosciutto, mozzarella (three types) which were all great, but I LOVED the octopus and the pomegranate dish which was so fresh.
We then had pasta and gnocchi – again all gluten free, apart from the ravioli. My own favourites were the gnocchi (as this is often not suitable for me in most restaurants) and I loved the papparadelle with wild boar.
We continued on with mains of meat, fish and vegetarian options. I loved the squid in hummus and the parmigiana, but I was defeated by this point and couldn’t eat any more.
You see the excitement was building, despite the sheer amount I had just eaten. I hadn’t actually had tiramisu in a decade. I had checked out the menu previously and realised that this was indeed another gluten free option, hence the excitement. Was it worth it? Yep, it was. Sponge soaked in marsala with coffee and cream and oh, my, it was worth squeezing in an extra couple of mouthfuls. The lemon cake with lemon crème anglais was another winner. That beautifully moist sponge, so light and delicate but with the perfect hint of citrus, was divine.
So, I’m desperate to go back to Locanda de Gusti and experience those gluten free delights. It will be a question of trying to decide what to have…
Though I have largely avoided Italian restaurants since my coeliac diagnosis, I had heard lots about Locanda’s emphasis on GF cooking and was excited to finally see what they had to offer.
Upon arrival I was also glad to see Claire, another coeliac, who hadn’t visited Locanda before, either. This certainly added to the experience and enjoyment of the dishes.
Now to the menu: though we originally expected to have three courses of tasting dishes, by the end of the evening we were lucky to experience all four! You’d be amazed how ‘totally full’ foodies can suddenly find another stomach for a surprise dessert selection, another bottle of wine and some amaretto shots.
The sharing style of these events can be really difficult for a coeliac to feel part of due to a typical lack of choice or cross-contamination. But thankfully out of the extraordinary number of dishes brought out to us I can only remember the bread (though we were brought our own rolls), the ravioli and the croquette dishes that weren’t gluten free and at no point did I feel I was missing out.
My highlights included some delicious lentil stews, a smoked honey baked cheese, slow-braised pig cheeks, an octopus and pomegranate salad, lemon squid, baked sea bream, a meaty ragu pasta and some lovely light lemon and tiramisu sponge-based puddings to end.
As you can see we were not short of great-tasting food, the pasta and sponges are some of the best I’ve tried in Edinburgh. Consequently I don’t think I’d eaten that many of my favourite foods in a very long time. A huge thanks to all at Locanda de Gusti; may they continue with their great wholesome dishes and gluten free options!