Thursday, September 18, 2008

a taste of gluten-free Aotearoa for Doc Witch (and Eleanor's mum)

Go Bang Espresso

182 Jackson St, Petone (Wellington)
04 939 0070

Petone was the site of the first European settlement in the Wellington area. Those crazy Brits got off the boat at the head of the harbour and claimed the place as their own. While there was some agreeably flat land (albeit a swamp) in an otherwise hilly landscape there was only one problem, the open foreshore caught the full blast of the southerly buster. The Antarctic wind soon blew the new residents further around the harbour and the rest, so they say, is history.

Not that Petone is uninhabitable. Far from it. Many generations down the line from early invasion the locals are not put off by a southerly and are happy to swap a little exposure for the convenience of drive on access. These days Petone is a place on the up and there are two sure signs this is so – an art house cinema and some passable cafes.

Go Bang Espresso is probably the cream of the crop. A friend bought me here for a descent coffee a couple of years ago en route for a day ‘over the hill’ in Martinborough (how did we miss Schoc chocolate on that trip?). By accident I found myself there again during my latest trip home. The Lighthouse cinema is a comfortable place to take an elderly parent out for a little daytime entertainment but movie watching can build an appetite and we both needed some lunch.

The formica tables at GBE reminded me of my own Fitzroy two decades ago when Brunswick Street was just coming into its own. While there were no tofu balls on the menu at GBE, it did have a modern equivalent that impressed the pants of me – a separate gluten-free menu. Yes you heard that right, a whole menu of coeliac-friendly options. Though gluten is not my allergy, I do feel compelled to give any places that cater for food intolerance their dues and to sample the produce as a way of encouraging them to continue to offer them.

So what does GBE offer? This is a daytime café, open 7 days, serving up breakfast, lunch, cakes and coffee. There were the usual egg options for breakfast on regular or gluten-free toast but also the bread-free combo of hash cakes (I presume they mean a potato based goodie, not something you’d get in Amsterdam) with spinach and wasabi mayonnaise plus a side of smoked salmon, bacon or tomato ($14-16). Tempted as I was by that brunch option I went for a veggie burger with sides, which was dairy-free in gluten-free bread rather than a regular bun. My mum opted for a beef burger that came with a great beetroot relish. Both dishes were reasonably priced (around $16 from memory but remember we are talking kiwi dollars here, so it was about Au$13 for a good quality homemade burger).

What impressed me most of all was there being no additional charge for the gluten-free option, as some places here are want to do. I didn’t explore sweet options but am told there are some gluten-free friends amongst the regular fare. The café was friendly, staff competent and there was a fair sprinkling of regular customers, which is always a good sign.

The hash cake brekkie would have drawn me back on another day if I’d had more time. After all when in Amsterdam, or Petone, why not?

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Blogger docwitch said...

Yay!! It's so encouraging to be hearing about all these gluten-free enclaves popping up everywhere. It certainly makes life a lot easier. When I'm in Welli again I'll definitely check this place out. Thanks for the heads-up.
And thanks for being a champion of GF, even when you don't have to worry about avoiding gluten.

6:18 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Of course there is always the Petone outpost of Chow in Jackson street as well. Not checked it out from a GF perspective (soy sauce alert?) but definitely has lots of tasty potentially GF food and a good place to eat at night. Oh and cocktails too!

2:06 pm  
Anonymous lindsey clare said...

ooh, next time i'm staying with the in-laws in the Hutt, i'm so visiting this place :)

1:22 pm  

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