The Wine Box Albany – don’t bother if you’re gluten-intolerant (except for the chocolate pie!)

Another day, another work lunch – this time in Albany, Auckland at The Wine Box. I had checked their menu out online, and had a few alarm bells due to the descriptions and no notes as gluten-free, dairy-free – not even vegetarian – but that was where we were going and I could see meals which you could remove things from to make them gluten-free, so was pretty sure I’d be alright.

What I did not expect was the attitude. The Wine Box looks lovely in terms of decor and presents itself as being a reasonable class of restaurant, but I was surprised by the lack of acknowledgement of things to do with food allergies. Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think every restaurant should have an exhaustive list of the ingredients of their dishes, but I do think they could have a little indicator which suggests “gluten-free options available” or even “vegetarian” to confirm that the dishes are safe for their customers.

A quick look through the lunch menu didn’t show much that was good for me (I am intolerant to egg yolk as well ,which nixes some of the dishes which could be gluten-free). Before I began to order, I politely asked if the waitress could tell me which dishes were gluten-free. “Oh the salads and the steaks are probably all right. What’s gluten?” was the response – in that order. The salads on closer look had some gluten component (noodles, soy sauce, wonton wrappers) but the items could mostly be removed. It was true that the scotch fillet was gluten-free and I could remove the egg which topped it. But that made a total of 4 items on the menu which I could eat. There were quite a number more which would be fine if gluten-free bread could be used instead of other bread. I asked if I could have the burger with gluten-free bread. The response was an unequivocal “no, we don’t have any gluten-free bread”. I ended up having the kangaroo fillet with fries instead of focaccia.  They also offer garlic bread and flowerpot bread, but have no gluten-free bread for a starter option, so I got to sit there while my tablemates consumed wonderful smelling fresh bread with some gusto (and the occasional apologetic look).

Dessert came, and once again, I asked the dreaded question. The response was better this time – “I’ll ask the chef”. Two desserts were gluten-free – the creme brulee (except that the chef wasn’t sure about the custard powder. This indicates the quality of the restaurant – generally speaking creme brulee is made with an egg custard and not custard powder, but I’m just sniping now) and the Belgian chocolate pie. This had a sweet almond crust and I thought it could be OK. Sure enough, gluten-free! Yippee, and it tasted wonderful. Of course it almost certainly wasn’t egg yolk free, but by this stage, I was very keen for something nice! And it was excellent. Left a nice taste in my mouth!

But in the main I wouldn’t recommend the Wine Box for a gluten-intolerant person. Has anyone else had a better experience here?

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3 thoughts on “The Wine Box Albany – don’t bother if you’re gluten-intolerant (except for the chocolate pie!)

  1. I sent the review off by email to the Wine Box, and here’s what they responded with:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am really sorry that you had a unsatisfactory experience at my restaurant. I am in
    the process of retraining the staff member in question with regards to the dishes we
    do that are gluten free/dairy free/ nut free.

    Many of our dishes are able to be made gluten free as 90%of our menu is cooked
    whilst you are waiting so we are able to adapt things here and there to suit a
    gluten free diet. There are a few things such as our soups and desserts that are
    prepared before hand and cannot be adapted. That being said we’d happily prepare
    something if we are given notice.

    We have looked into gluten free bread however it is a request we get once or twice a
    month and it is not viable to stock it for this reason. Once again we would happily
    stock it if we are given a little notice.

    Our aim is that everyone leaves our restaurant having enjoyed their time here and
    are disappointed that we did not achieve this. And our next step forward is to
    correct this as soon as possible.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Regards,

    Karis Thompson

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