‘Pages Cafe’ in West Ryde, Sydney, has an extensive gluten free menu. It also has a sheltered outdoor soft-play area (free to patrons) especially great for coeliac kids or parents – with the added benefit of a quieter section inside where kids are less likely to venture. Located near the West Ryde train station, the cafe is part of a large Christian book store, but diners from any denomination are welcome.
Matthew Eagleton, Pages Cafe Manager is very aware that many cafes and restaurants claiming to serve gluten free food are inadvertently sabotaging the gluten free status of their food through improper handling – and damaging intestines in the process.
Matthew’s wife Bec was diagnosed as a coeliac several years ago and regularly polices the gluten free pipeline at Pages. Despite not having a particularly large kitchen area, Matthew has introduced a separate gluten free toaster (+ designated gluten free butter), a wheat-free preparation area which is routinely cleaned after each use and green handled tongs only to be used with gluten free cakes. Staff are trained in what it means to be a coeliac and what ‘cross contamination’ is all about.
Gluten free sandwich fillings have their own containers in a gluten free section of the fridge and gluten free food is prepared with designated cutlery. Gluten free mayonnaise and a gluten free alternative to vegemite are at the ready and ‘Silly Yaks’ Anzac Biscuits and individually wrapped gluten free ‘Byron Bay Cookies’ are on the counter.
Matthew keeps a comprehensive ingredient list so that vegetarians, wheat, dairy and nut-free customers can tell at a glance what is safe for them to eat.
‘My wife and I go to cafes and ask ‘Is your hot chocolate gluten free?” says Matthew – they encounter blank faces ‘You just know from the first reaction if there’s no basic knowledge’. Hot chocolate, incidentally, is often not gluten free.
Pages Cafe uses Choices (www.choicesglutenfree.com.au) three seed bread that’s already sliced – this is an example of their gluten free Turkey Toasted Sandwich – it has turkey breast, cranberry sauce, swiss cheese and avocado. If you rarely eat bread like me, a decent sandwich is a wonderful thing.
28 West Parade