The ethos behind Manchester’s gluten-free restaurant, Tea 42, is their mission to provide delicious food for all to enjoy, catering for those with a gluten intolerance but without alienating either audience, brought to life via “simply splendid menus that support local produce and manufacturers.”
A fabulous space with a delightful, trendy interior, Tea 42 has become my favourite place to go for a girly meal with friends or a weekend lunch-date with James; it is somewhere you can go for all occasions at any time of day. Here’s my review when I first had the pleasure of sampling the gluten-free delights with my fellow social media girly, Sian.
I was delighted to be invited to the media launch of Tea 42’s new fine-dining evening on Wednesday 28th May, when Michelin Star restaurant-trained Head Chef, Matt Smith and his team would be treating us to a special five course A La Carte menu. What made this night more exciting was that my old friend and fellow gluten-free blogger, Saara @CoeliacStudent, would be there too with her lovely fella, Mike!
On the night, along with Saara and Mike (who happily shared a table with us – the more the merrier!) James and I were joined by 26 other food journalists and writers for what was a very special night. After enjoying a cheeky glass of champagne, we started with an Amuse Bouche of cauliflower puree and two mini flower pots of gluten-free bread. Winning novelty appeal, the puree was wonderfully light, fluffy and creamy, while the tasty muffins were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle; exactly how a freshly baked ‘bread’ product should be!
It was a challenge to choose from the seven starters but I eventually settled on the Pea Veloute, which swiftly arrived between laughs and banter with James, Saara and Mike. A vibrant green, sweet and velvety sauce covered a bed of broad beans and asparagus, finished off with a poached duck egg, all cooked to absolute perfection. Although a deceivingly ‘simple’ dish, I experienced an explosion of flavours, all complimenting each other so well, leaving me wanting more once I’d pretty much licked the bowl clean. Our table was almost silent as we devoured our food; definitely a good sign!
A Tangy Citrus Sorbet was an ideal palette cleanser before the main dish arrived, refreshing and zesty without being too sweet or overpowering – a nice little touch. Having not had Gnocchi for a very long time (it’s rare to find gluten-free varieties), I was far from disappointed with this stunning dish. I’m not usually a fan of blue cheese, but this sauce was deliciously creamy while the candied walnuts added a great crunch alongside the soft, doughy gnocchi balls. A touch of lemon brought the dish to a whole new level, adding a tang and really making it something of a taste extravaganza.
Each of the dishes were just the right portion size; not too big to leave you feeling uncomfortably full but not too pretentiously small. This meant we all just about had room for our final course – dessert. Again, a tough choice but the Black Forest option tempted me, a small but substantial chunk of chocolate cake served with cherries, ‘chocolate soil’ and kirsch. Beautifully presented, this treat hit all the spots thanks to the combination of chocolate and cherries with a hint of liqueur…I made sure every crumb soaked up the last bit of sauce. This didn’t stop me eyeing up James’ Baked Egg Custard or Saara and Mike’s Pina Colada dessert, but we were all totally satisfied with our culinary delights.
I can’t stress enough how fantastic it is, as someone who is wheat intolerant, to go to a restaurant and have the freedom to order pretty much anything from the menu and enjoying amazing food in wonderful surroundings. The launch night proved that the chefs know what they’re doing and aren’t afraid to be creative with alternative ingredients, while ensuring everyone is happy. It was lovely to speak to one of the directors, Will Hannah, about how Tea 42 came about and their plans for the future, his passion clearly evident and made me appreciate the brand even more.
All I can say is, take your friends, your other half or family there for an enjoyable experience, friendly service and fantastic food – whether you’re gluten-free or not!