To mark Coeliac Disease Awareness Week, I am super excited to share a much-requested MK food guide with you! This is a guide to gluten free eating in Milton Keynes, from fellow foodie, Rachel at The Sightseeing Coeliac. As gluten free is not my area of expertise, I invited Rachel to share her favourite independent gluten free restaurants in Milton Keynes. She already has a brilliant guide to gluten free in Milton Keynes, so in this guide you’ll find her top five! Rachel is Coeliac which is aserious autoimmune disease. Even if there are traces of gluten in food, those with Coeliac disease can become very ill. As you can imagine, eating out can be a challenge!
So in this food guide, Rachel has shared gluten free options that are also suitable for those who are coeliac or on stricter gluten free diets. As there are no dedicated gluten free restaurants in MK that we are aware of, Rachel chooses to eat from restaurants that have a mixed kitchen.
Recommending gluten free restaurants for those with coeliac is difficult, even more so in the current climate as staff, menus and ingredients can and do change. So always make sure you do your own due diligence and check that the food on the day of your visit is safe for you, and your comfort level of eating out but these are Rachel’s top picks for eating out strictly gluten free in Milton Keynes based on her own experience.
Rachel’s favourite Gluten Free Restaurants in Milton Keynes
Every effort has been taken to ensure the information in this blog post is correct, however, I advise referring directly to the vendor websites and social media pages for the most up to date information. If you do see an error or something is incorrect, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Coeliac?
Coeliac is not a food intolerance or allergy. It is a serious autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself as a response to any gluten eaten causing damage to the small intestine, which means eating gluten free just by ingredient is not enough.
Currently, the only treatment for coeliac is a very strict gluten free diet where gluten can not be consumed, including through cross-contamination. Gluten free for me and those with coeliac means that the gluten free food needs to have remained totally gluten free at all points of preparation. This means that they should not eat ingredients that have a ‘may contain gluten’ warning, eat toast cooked in a regular toaster, pasta cooked in water previously used to cook regular pasta, pizzas cooked on shared surfaces, cakes stored next to normal cakes, or food from fryers also used to cook gluten food. Food needs to be prepared in a clean area with clean utensils, and if that can be a dedicated area then even better. Eating out for those with coeliac disease and food allergies comes with a lot of anxiety as we can become seriously ill. There is a lot of misunderstanding around coeliac, including the perception that it is a ‘fad diet’ or that food containing no gluten ingredients is still safe.
What are the symptoms of Coeliac?
1 in 100 people have coeliac but many remain undiagnosed, largely due to the wide range of symptoms and some are even silent coeliac so the damage is being done internally but there are no physical symptoms. Symptoms can range from vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, mouth ulcers, anaemia, vitamin deficiencies, weight loss and it can lead to long term health issues such as bowel cancer, fertility issues and osteoporosis.
Through the body attacking itself, untreated coeliac can cause all sorts of malnutrition issues and symptoms that can affect everyone differently. If you believe your symptoms could be coeliac, see a doctor for tests before removing gluten from your diet and more information can be found on the Coeliac UK website.
Therefore, the term gluten free is problematic whilst dining out as there are so many reasons why people choose to eat a gluten free diet, and their attitudes over what they consider safe is different.
Eating out as a Coeliac
Many people opt for a gluten free as a diet that is gluten free by ingredient. They do not need to worry about cross-contamination. Others may be stricter most of the time but have cheat days (especially those who are silent coeliac) or some may even make themselves ill for the sake of eating gluten which may vary depending on the severity of their symptoms if they do so (although the internal damage is still being done) causing confusion to restaurant staff over what is actually safe and recommended. There is also the other end of the spectrum where some people don’t eat out at all unless it is in a dedicated gluten free restaurant over fear of restaurants getting it wrong.
What is labelled as gluten free in restaurants can be very different based on the understanding and interpretation of what gluten free is by the owner and what previous gluten free customers have chosen to eat, but unless there is an understanding of cross-contamination and measures put in place to prevent it the gluten free items on the menu may not meet the comfort levels or requirements for those who are requesting the gluten free options.
For those who don’t need to worry about cross-contamination there are many restaurants that can cater in Milton Keynes. Personally, I choose to eat in restaurants with a mixed kitchen as there are no dedicated gluten free restaurants that I am aware of in Milton Keynes, and it means I can still enjoy a meal out with my friends and family. Here are my top picks for eating out strictly gluten free in Milton Keynes based on my experience.
The Chester Arms
I absolutely love visiting The Chester Arms, it is one of the best pubs in Milton Keynes to cater for dietary requirements. They do it properly with an excellent understanding of allergens and dedicated gluten free fryers.
I first visited with my best friend who is also vegetarian, and as the menu was so amazing we made the most of it and ordered some starters to share. We had the vegan sweet potato croquettes that came served with a Thai red dipping sauce which was so good – a lovely crunchy croquette filled with soft sweet potato. Such a treat as a gluten free and vegan option! We also ordered the halloumi fries with a tomato chutney, which was a given as soon as we saw them on the menu! There has been a new menu recently launched that no longer has the sweet potato croquettes on it but instead, there are gluten free and vegan sriracha battered cauliflower and I’ve just spotted gluten free calamari so I need to return!
For mains, I had the gluten free and dairy free fish and chips and my friend had the vegan ‘fish’ and chips which sadly couldn’t be made gluten free. We were too full for dessert, so at some point, I will need to return to try the sticky toffee pudding and the lemon posset.
I have also since returned for a Sunday roast with my partner, where I had been told that they are meant to be served with a gluten free Yorkshire pudding if requested but that didn’t happen on my visit so it may be advisable to pre-order as they must have run out on the day that I went.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 12pm – 9pm, Friday – Saturday 12pm – 10pm and Sunday 12pm – 8pm.
Price range: £1 – £30. Main meals are around £10.
Dietaries: The Chester Arms caters for vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free. The menu is clearly marked with items that are suitable for vegans, contain nuts, are gluten-free, dairy-free or can be prepared to accommodate these dietaries on request. There is a fryer that is dedicated gluten free and there is a gluten free and vegan dessert of fruit crumble rather than just a fruit salad.
Fratelli’s Bar and Restaurant / Bagel n’ Bits
Fratellis, an Italian and Turkish fusion restaurant was an immediate hit on the indie Milton Keynes food scene, and I was amazed to learn that so much of the menu could also be made gluten free. The owner is coeliac and has since introduced dedicated gluten free fryers to make much of the menu accessible to those with coeliac including fried items, buffalo wings, burgers and loaded fries.
The first time I tried Fratellis, I ordered the Italian sausage burger which was an incredible rich burger with melted mozzarella and spicy nduja, as well as a side of fries, buffalo wings and vegan arancini. This was obviously over the top, but I seem to lack self control as soon as I can order safe fried options! I ordered it for collection during lockdown and the food was still piping hot once I got home, and we all enjoyed it and have returned since for takeaway.
I have also visited Fratellis with coeliac friends dining in at the restaurant, and we ordered most of the gluten free small plate options on the menu resulting in a fried food feast! We ordered things like arancini, halloumi fries, battered prawns, croquettes, scotch eggs and chicken tenders. It was fun to be able to order and try everything, but I think I recommend ordering a burger and a side of fries overall as the small plates was a bit of a beige overload.
During the day, Fratellis turns into Bagel N’ Bits. This means that it is an excellent place for brunch or bagels if you are coeliac. Brunches and bagels are available gluten free and I recently devoured a gluten free fried chicken, cheese and hot sauce bagel. The dream, right?
Location: 35a Aylesbury Road, Fenny Stratford, Bletchley MK2 2BQ
Price Range: £4 – £24. Small plates £7 or 4 for £20. Burgers and kabinis around £11.
Dietaries: A lot of the Fratelli’s menu can be made gluten free although do ask about everything that you order – all the menus launched have had options available gluten free not marked, and double check that the dedicated gluten free fryer is used for your order. This also applies to Bagel N Bits, where gluten free toppings are not marked on the menu but I was able to order the fried chicken knowing that they had this on the Fratelli’s menu and separate fryers. I would love to see the menus for both restaurants fully marked up for gluten free options in the future as I would never normally even think of asking about whether fried chicken could be made and cooked safely for me if I didn’t already know that it was likely to be a possibility. There are far fewer vegan options but they do include arancini, fries, pulled jackfruit kabini, pulled jackfruit loaded fries and a vegan beyond meat burger all of which can be made gluten free.
Bagel and Bits: Monday to Friday 9am – 3pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 4pm.
Fratellis: Friday and Saturday 4 – 10pm
Olé Tapas Bar
Olé Tapas Bar is a family run, authentic Spanish restaurant located in Wolverton. I first visited Olé Tapas Bar with friends and we had the best experience sharing many dishes over a long lunch, and as a result I regularly recommended the restaurant to anyone asking for Milton Keynes gluten free recommendations.
However, during lockdown I ordered a takeaway and it didn’t go too well as they cooked some of my food in a shared fryer and by the time I removed those options we were still hungry at the end of our meal. I am sharing this as the way restaurants respond to issues says so much about them and Olé Tapas Bar now has dedicated gluten free fryers which means that it’s so much easier to recommend it confidently for those with coeliac and it opens up so many more options on the menu. This therefore makes them one of the best restaurants in Milton Keynes to eat out gluten free. This is a great place to visit with a group of friends to try lots of dishes, or makes a perfect date night over fabulous food.
We decided to visit again to try out the gluten free menu once we knew that there were dedicated fryers. We visited with friends and were surprised by how busy they were for a Wednesday night, it was so fantastic to see a thriving restaurant with a fab vibe mid week.
The service we received was so friendly and accommodating, and we enjoyed sampling much of the menu over a jug of sangria.
We ordered some gluten free dishes such as the triple cooked octopus served with new potatoes and chorizo Mayo, slow cooked chorizo in red wine, and the pork belly with apple purée and roasted peppers as well as many fried items to make the most of being able to enjoy gluten free tempura batter – we ordered tempura cod, tempura aubergine served with agave syrup and chorizo lollipops as well as the must have patatas bravas.
Our favourite dishes of the night were the rich indulgent chorizo in wine, the tempura cod served piping hot in a light batter and the octopus that had the most amazing sauce.
We also all ordered dessert, and I loved being able to order the traditional Spanish dessert tarta de Santiago whilst Paul had the mega chocolatey gluten free brownie served hot with Icecream that he thoroughly enjoyed.
I think the way that this restaurant has responded to my previous feedback has been amazing and I’m so thank ful for their really inclusive, big delicious menu putting them firmly back at the top of the list for recommendations for dining out gluten free in Milton Keynes.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 12pm – 2:30pm and 5:30pm – 10pm, Saturday 12pm – 10pm and Sundays 12pm – 4:30pm.
Price range: Tapas dishes range from £2 – £12. Sharing platters are £16.50 – £18.50 and paella from £13.50 per person. Prices vary depending on specials available.
Dietaries: Olé Tapas Bar can cater for most requirements including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. For specific allergies, please contact Olé directly.
I recently visited Tasty MK, a fish and chip and kebab shop in Broughton. They have the same owners as The Chester Arms and therefore excellent allergen awareness, with dedicated gluten free fryers available seven days a week.
There were many options on the menu that can be made gluten free which are all marked on the menu online. Choices include fried chicken and chips, fish and chips and kebabs. Due to their location on the other side of Milton Keynes, I have only visited once, but now that I know how good they are I will definitely return and I can’t wait to be able to try a gluten free kebab. They use Bfree pitta bread cooked on foil to prevent cross-contamination. It’s amazing to find such a good takeaway that is open daily and that does delivery too for allergen orders, which many food delivery apps do not allow.
The food was excellent value for money and my two-piece chicken and chips meal was huge, I really enjoyed it especially as it is such a novelty to order something like this gluten free. The chicken and chips were really good and not all greasy, but I would order some gluten free gravy next time.
Opening hours: Monday – Wednesday 4pm – 11pm, Thursday – Sunday 12pm – 9pm.
Price range: Options £1.50 – £11.50. Most items on the menu are under £10.
Dietaries: Tasty MK caters for vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free. The menu is clearly marked with items that are suitable for vegans, contain nuts, are gluten-free, dairy-free or can be prepared to accommodate these dietaries on request. Rachel from The Sightseeing Coeliac recommends double-checking with the manager what items are coeliac safe and ensuring the person taking your order understands your requirements.
Walnut Tree Fish and Chips
I didn’t initially want to include two fish and chips options but with dedicated gluten free fryers Walnut Tree is also an excellent option for a gluten free takeaway in Milton Keynes seven days a week and is somewhere that I have visited many times. I have enjoyed both the fish and chips and the battered sausage and chips options here, as well as seasonal options such as battered pigs in blankets and even gluten free battered mince pies! I love that the seasonal menu is inclusive for those with dietary requirements.
Many fish and chips shops are getting dedicated gluten free fryers now so fish and chips are more easily available, but the options are never as extensive as at Walnut Tree Fish and Chips, especially if you are vegan as well. Current vegan options that can be made gluten free include banana blossom, garlic chestnut mushrooms, artichoke hearts, peppered celeriac bites, curried cauliflower bites, vegan battered sausages and pineapple fritters. I have tried the maple parsnip bites as something different and the parnsips held up well in texture in the batter with a sweet bite.
Opening hours: Tuesday 5pm – 8:30pm, Wednesday and Thursday 12pm – 2pm and 5pm – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm – 2pm and 5pm – 9pm.
Price range: Most items on the menu are under £10.
Dietaries: Walnut Tree Fish and Chips caters for vegan and gluten-free. Suitable items are clearly marked on the menu. Rachel from The Sightseeing Coeliac says it would be her takeaway of choice for anyone with multiple dietary requirements including GF, DF and Vegan.
I’m Rachel, the gluten free travel blogger behind The Sightseeing Coeliac. I started an Instagram account for gluten free and coeliac safe recommendations for Central London when I was a General Manager for a store on Oxford Street. I ate out far more than I should for eight years in touristy Central London so I began by posting my recommendations on my commute home!
I now work as a Retail Operations Manager that includes UK travel, and therefore now post UK based coeliac restaurant and hotel recommendations as well as more recently far more recommendations from my home town of Milton Keynes which led to me writing a Gluten Free Guide to Milton Keynes during lockdown. Other than spending time on my blog, hobbies include plenty of baking and recreating restaurant meals at home, both of which feature on my Instagram when I am not travelling or eating out.
Since being diagnosed as coeliac in 2009, I have continued to travel extensively and I don’t believe that a health condition should change that. I decided to post about my travels on my Instagram account and set up a blog to provide more detailed recommendations to help those nervous about travelling with coeliac. Last year I was nominated for the Best Gluten Free Travel Blogger Award at the British Travel Awards. I always seek out gluten free local cuisine, treats and bakeries everywhere I go!
MORE gluten free guides FROM RACHEL:
Thanks so much to Rachel for putting together this brilliant guide. If you are coeliac, I hope this has helped you to navigate the indie food scene with a bit more ease and reassurance.
Where are your favourite restaurants to eat gluten free in Milton Keynes?