Gluten & Dairy-Free and Vegan Afternoon Tea at Wonderland Cafe

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When you live some health conditions, following certain dietary adjustments can really help in managing the condition and symptoms, such as gluten-free and dairy-free for autoimmune hypothyroidism. 

Although I don’t by any means have cake, sandwiches or even afternoon tea very often at all, indulging in some afternoon tea is one of my favourite things to do with friends. 

So imagine my delight when Wonderland Cafe, an Alice in Wonderland cafe based in Nottingham, England, offered to let me try their gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan safe afternoon tea complimentarily, after I suggested a year ago that more places need to offer allergen free options for afternoon tea lovers. 

Situated at 21 Station Street, Nottingham NG2 3AJ, Wonderland Cafe is very easy to access from Nottingham Train Station and immediately catches your eye with its funky wall art designed to pull you in to the rabbit hole.

At the cafe and tea room, you’re able to find some delicious treats including the afternoon tea for two that I had with a friend and am reviewing today, but also milkshakes, coffee and sandwiches.

My main aim for this visit was to ascertain whether their new gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan tea party for two was worthy of making my list for good gluten-free cafes nearby, and I wasn’t let down.

As soon as we arrived, the decor of the cafe delighted many of those in the group I’d come with and the staff saw to us straight away. When asked what we’d like to order by a member of staff dressed as The White Rabbit, I made them aware of my dietary restrictions and that I’d come to try their new afternoon tea as I’m gluten-free. Straight away, I was made to feel welcome and with a smile and nod, they took care of me.

They did make me aware though that they couldn’t guarantee 100% safety from cross contamination of gluten, as a lot of other eateries also say to me regularly, due to their very small kitchen and workspace, but I assured them that this was fine. Being gluten sensitive as opposed to coeliac, I wasn’t too worried, but if you are coeliac, you could call and ask them more specifically about how they prepare the food and decide for yourself if it’s suitable for your own circumstances. A lot of us do this ahead of eating out somewhere anyway.

Enjoying the decor, atmosphere and overall aesthetic of the cafe, it didn’t feel like long at all before the cake stand with goodies was brought out and we began diving in. We had three finger sandwiches per person on the bottom tier, followed by a scone each on the middle and some cakes on the top.

Starting with the sandwiches, I reallllly enjoyed the Hummus with Red Pepper & Carrot. It was the first one I tried and my favourite out of all three. As many of us following gluten and dairy-free diets know, free-from bread can be a bit dry and crumbly at times, so the hummus added a little moisture that helped to balance that out. The jam sandwich was pretty standard and the vegan cheese tasted just like regular cheese to both me and my friend. I would’ve loved the cheese sandwich more if it had come with some pickle or chutney  as it would have given it that little something extra and helped with the slightly dry free-from bread, but I still had no trouble eating it. As I’m not a fan of cucumber sandwiches, I let my friend have both of those and she seemed to enjoy them.

Moving on to a big love of my life, scones, I excitedly took a fruit scone and smeared on my free-from jam and cream with pleasure. The cream was vegan soya cream, so for those hypothyroid patients who don’t eat soy/soya, this perhaps wouldn’t be suitable for you, but if you aren’t vegan you could call ahead and request regular clotted cream in place of this.

The scone itself was, I have to say, the best gluten-free scone I’ve ever had. And I don’t say that lightly! The texture was very close to a normal scone and it was very tasty. I did notice that it had a slight peppery taste and I’m not sure what ingredient gave it that, but I really liked it. With the sweetness of the jam and cream, it worked well. A few fresh strawberries were also included.

On to the cake tier and this was the real treat. I don’t eat cakes often being gluten-free and watching my sugar intake but I was ready for a treat. There was a bitesize Jaffa Cake brownie, which wasn’t at all dry like gluten-free cake can be. With a rich dark chocolate sponge and orange jelly tasting exactly like a Jaffa Cake on top, it was very decadent.

The caramel slice was to die for, the rich caramel and dark chocolate washed down with my green jasmine tea easily.

The bitesize sticky toffee loaf with a walnut on top was my friend’s favourite. It didn’t taste gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan at all as it was very moist and yummy. This was my favourite.

My friend ordered a Unicorn Milkshake to go with her food and my other friend enjoyed his Ferrero Roche milkshake which looked incredible, although I couldn’t try it as it wasn’t gluten-free. I’m sure that if you asked, staff would be very happy to check which of these delicious extras on the menu are also suitable for your dietary requirements.

At £29.95 for two people, I’d recommend the afternoon tea at Wonderland Cafe if you’re looking for something gluten-free, dairy-free and/or vegan. The way that staff handled catering for something with a request for gluten-free made the whole experience completely hassle free and although the rest of my party ordered regular food, my experience wasn’t any different to theirs. All food was brought out at the same time and most importantly, everyone enjoyed their experience equally.

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites and has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, Thyroid Refresh and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and also contributed the foreword to Emily Kyle’s The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook.

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