3Squared: Transforming Free From Eating

“Our menu aims to redefine your perception of “free from”, by giving you familiar favourites with no compromise on taste, presentation or quality.”

This is the ethos of Manchester’s recently opened 3SQUARED restaurant, a gem of a venue inside the characterful Exchange Arcade just off St Ann’s Square. Not just another health food spot, what 3SQUARED have nailed is a menu based on traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes but everything is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. For a health and fitness fanatic like myself, who happens to be wheat intolerant and passionate about reducing refined sugar, I was buzzing when I walked past and saw the food on offer.

Forget boring and unimaginative; we’re talking a Full English breakfast with all the trimmings, bacon sandwiches, warming bowls of porridge plus veggie dishes and indulgent desserts. It’s this challenging the perception of what free-from food is, offering such an extensive menu for all dietary requirements, that opens itself up to a wide customer base that doesn’t JUST appeal to gym bunnies or health foodies.

When my brother Andy and I went in on a snowy weekday lunchtime, the spacious venue was bustling with city workers, mums and their babies, students, older couples – people from all walks of life. Warming up with a lemon, ginger and honey tonic while Andy opted for a Serotonin Smoothie (banana, strawberry, oat milk and protein powder), I honestly took a good 10 minutes trying to decide what to order – it’s a huge novelty for me being able to look at a menu and think, ‘I can order ANYTHING off this menu’ with the knowledge that it’s going to be healthy with no wheat in sight. [Just to add I’ve become fully vegetarian – there are plenty of meat and fish options just as there are veggie and vegan.]

I settled on the Superfood Brunch – spinach sautéed in coconut oil, slow roasted mushroom & tomato, served on sweet potato slice, mixed seed and micro herb garnish. It arrived beautifully presented, with the addition of two perfectly poached eggs and soft avocado slices (because it’s not ‘brunch’ if you don’t have eggs and avo is it?!). I couldn’t wait to dig in. Bursting with flavour and texture, the dish was filling, enjoyable and just what I was craving, without leaving me feeling too full or stuffed.

Andy wolfed down his Full English, with poached eggs, bacon, locally sourced sausages, baked beans, slow roasted mushroom and tomato plus toast. I’ve never been a cooked breakfast kind of person but even I thought it looked amazing – especially the bread, which the owner Katie told me is shipped in regularly as it’s the best gluten-free bread around! That’s dedication. Each element was simple but done well, cooked to perfection, high quality with no compromise on taste or portion size.

While the brownies and flapjack on the counter looked amazing, Andy and I enjoyed a bowl of fresh fruit and dairy-free ice cream for me, a lighter alternative but the ideal way to finish off a satisfying brunch.

It was a pleasure to chat with Katie once the lunchtime rush was over, a woman bursting with passion and warmth that was just infectious. I LOVE talking to like-minded people about food and health, and hearing her future plans for 3SQUARED was exciting and got me wanting to be part of the community she is keen to build around the space. I can’t wait to go back – with Thomas, with my friends for a girly date, or to take my family when we’re in the city – I really have high hopes for such a wonderful place that really is showing off free-from food in its best light, as nature intended.