The delights of well-informed wait staff!

Update: Sadly, PaNKaWaLLa is no more in the Viaduct Harbour! I walked past yesterday and they have ripped all the furnishings out. I am checking to see if the one in New Plymouth is still open.

Two very positive experiences to report with serving staff at two different eating establishments! The first was PaNKaWaLLa in the Viaduct Harbour for a work lunch (really, work events are the times I eat out!). PaNKaWaLLa is our ‘local’ Indian at work and their Curry ‘n Hurry is a great favourite. We call, order and then trot across the road and return with a lovely curry for $10. I’ve been there for lunch several times before, and I know that their poppadums are gluten-free, their saag paneer lovely but their drinks are expensive.

I was booking a lunch for work and idly checking through the menu on the website when I noticed “Onion Bhaji – chickpea batter”. Hmmm, thought I. Just chickpea flour? When we rocked up for lunch on Wednesday I asked the waiter if it was just chickpea flour. He said “Yes ma’am, it is only chickpea. There is no wheat flour in it and it is gluten-free.” Unbelievably good! The pakora were also made with chickpea flour. Huzzah! I thought, once I had gotten over being called ma’am – always makes me feel as though I’m middle-aged and somebody’s mother. Oh wait, I am middle-aged and somebody’s mother!!! 🙂 Still makes me feel old! So very good and very well-informed and I ordered several platters full for the table!

Today we stopped by Ceres Organic Whole Foods in Ellerslie. It’s near my husband’s work and he has occasionally got pasta and other bits and pieces for me here. I’d never been though and we were in the area. It was a good store, reasonable size and they had very helpful bits of information on different products.

Right next door is the Sierra Cafe, one of a chain of boutique coffee roasters. As it was lunchtime and the small boys were about to try to gnaw their own arms off, we stopped in for lunch. They had a gluten-free cake (yay them!) but very little else on their menu that was gluten-free – or identified as such. They also didn’t have any notes saying “gluten-free options available”. However, when I asked if they had any gluten-free bread so I could have a BLAT (well, a BLA actually as I don’t like tomatoes). The young woman behind the counter said “yes, absolutely” and proceeded to custom-do an order for me. Good on them! Now they just need to advertise that do have gluten-free options.

Lesson for this week? Always ask at the cafe, because they may not state it explicitly anywhere, but they may well cater for me!

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