I frequently travel through the airports of London, but every time my memory fails me on what gluten-free eating options I have there – I often end up on a 6 hour diet of Eat Natural bars and unhealthy crisps hastily purchased from WH Smiths, so here’s my quick round-up of where to eat at Gatwick, assuming you have already checked in your week’s supply of Dietary Specials rolls!
In my opinion, Gatwick has to be one of the worst airports for gluten free provision, especially if you are on a budget so I recommend taking a packed lunch and supplies for the flight, however there have been some recent improvements.
Tucked up in the top corner is Café Rouge, which is a passable option. The decor is the worst kind of ‘theming’ with cheesy cockerel paintings and walls washed in Mediterranean yellow. On my visit the staff were not very knowledgeable about gluten, and did not have an allergy menu available, but after some back and forth questioning with the duty manager I had a safe and very large Chargrilled Chicken Salad. The menu tends towards the bready, so it requires some caution.
You can duck into Costa Coffee for a sweet fix as they serve Gluten Free brownies (which won in our taste test!), however they are still sadly behind Starbucks in provision of savoury options. The good new is that Starbucks are soon to open here too so we may be able to pick up a gluten free sandwich in the future.
I am somewhat sceptical about EAT’s ability to cater for coeliacs after being offered rye bread, but they keep an allergy list behind the counter and it is possible to pick up salads, yogurts and fruit from there. The queues are often large as this is currently the only option for a quick eat. The good news is that Pret a Manger are shortly to open a branch here – I have found them to be more informed on gluten.
There is a small Wetherspoons, but unlike their high-street branches, they did not carry gluten-free labelling on the menu when I visited. You can, however, refer to their website for this information.
In my opinion, the best addition to Gatwick is the new branch of Jamie’s Italian. Save some time (and some pennies) for this little treat at the start of your holiday – duck past the bakery to the main restaurant where I found the staff to be exceptionally friendly, highly knowledgeable and efficient. They immediately highlighted my options on the menu, including those they could adapt for me and were happy to make substitutions for the items I couldn’t have on their breakfast menu. I opted for a delicious (and large) omelette with a side of potatoes. Without asking they made a note on my order about my dietary needs so that the kitchen could take extra care preparing my dish – just as it should be.
The South Terminal is a little more coeliac-friendly. Like the North you can choose Café Rouge or Wetherspoons as well as picking up a brownie from either Costa or Caffe Nero. You can get something passable after some quizzing and adaptation at Giraffe.
There is a large Pret a Manger here where I usually opt for a healthy salad and savoury popcorn whilst my GEH has his traditional pre-holiday McDonald’s. You can of course have some french fries there if you like – I settle for stealing his!
My favourite option at Gatwick is to stock up on supplies at the Marks & Spencer Simply Food before security. They don’t seem to stock the gluten-free sandwiches, but there are numerous coeliac-friendly, well-labelled options. Just make sure you don’t pick up anything that classes as a liquid or you could end up repeating my debate with security on the viscosity of jam!