Niche is quite simply London’s first Coeliac UK accredited 100% gluten free restaurant. There are many restaurants that cater for coeliacs but none that offers a full menu of gluten-free options. Their kitchen practices have been scrutinised carefully to ensure the certification is completely accurate. They also have numerous vegan and dairy-free options, hence it is no wonder why Niche is one of the most popular restaurants in the Islington area and not just for people with dietary requirements. Their close proximity to Sadler’s Wells also means guaranteed full-house evenings on all the performance nights.
Spicy vegetable fritters had strong piquant flavours from the use of pepper, garlic, onion, a variety of herbs and spices plus soya yoghurt raitha. It’s rare to find a vegetable dish containing chickpeas, garden peas and carrot tasting so richly indulgent. Wild mushroom parfait ended up comparatively less seasoned and seemed unadventurous, even with the accompanying toast and chutney.
There is a strong focus to make sure vegetarian food doesn’t equate to bland food; the spicy black bean burger was flavoured with peppers, garlic, chilli, onion, smoked paprika, coriander, lime and parsley. It was also a filling main course, coming with their in-house coleslaw and skinny skin-on-fries.
The other main course we tried was their signature dish, chicken & wild mushroom pie. It was fascinating to try their secret recipe square pie which doesn’t use any gluten at all. The taste was comparable to any gluten-pie, however, it was extremely firm in texture and made the simple act of cutting a tricky manoeuvre. Pies have never tasted so healthy with free-range chicken, wild mushrooms and leek with also steamed curly kale on the side.
Desserts were equally dietary-friendly, we tried a hot apple and blueberry crumble which used dairy-free custard. It was served in a cute mini-pan and well-portioned for those who normally hesitate about ordering desserts. Lemon and vanilla cheesecake was another top choice with fruity blueberry compote on top and a crumbly texture of ginger and digestive biscuit for the base.
What we particularly admire is the fact that Niche is an independent restaurant and there are far too few of these in London these days and must be supported.