It was our wedding anniversary last week, and coincidentally, the Gluten Free Grocer posted on their Facebook page that they really recommended Ragu and that it had an excellent gluten-free menu. Ragu, or rather its history, has special memories for us. In the early days of our courtship, we used to go to what was then Point 59. Ragu, the third or fourth incarnation since Point 59 closed its doors, occupies the same space. So my husband and I took ourselves off.
The layout has changed somewhat since the old days. Now there is a dedicated children’s play area in a separate room – well laid out and with many attractions for small fry. The lighting is low. The staff are friendly and greet you at the desk as if you’re an old friend, or a long-time regular. On my first look at the menu, I was a little disappointed. How could a restaurant which was supposedly great for gluten-free have NO gluten-free notations on the menu? I asked the waitress which items were gluten-free, and she said she’d bring me the gluten-free menu! This proved to be much the same as the normal menu, but indicated which items were gluten and/or dairy free. At first, I was confused as to why you wouldn’t just have all these notations on a normal menu, but then it occurred to me that there was a much better chance of your wait person remembering that you required gluten-free options if they’d had to bring you a different menu (on different coloured paper too).
The food here comes as Main dishes or “small plates” – tapas style, and hot or cold. My husband chose lamb shanks and I went for four of the tapas plates – an aubergine and feta dip with bread, grilled merguez sausage with rocket and onions, chicken kofta on rocket with green onion sauce and slow cooked pork belly with a chilli ginger sauce. I was really impressed with the number of gluten-free options there were.
We shared the dip, and it was lovely. The gluten-free bread was very nice and toasted on the grill, and our waitress brought us more when she saw we still had dip left. All of the dishes were lovely. Flavoursome, beautifully presented (I especially liked the pork belly served in a one-person cast iron pan), and encouraged me to eat far more than I needed to!
The dessert menu had three gluten-free options – a crème brulee, chocolate brownie, and affogato. Unfortunately, because of my egg and coffee intolerances, the brulee and affogato were both out, and they didn’t have any of the brownie. I was extremely full by then, and didn’t really need any dessert anyway, but that brownie did look pretty good!
Other lovely things about Ragu? The 80’s music playlist. The staff – they were attentive and efficient without being overly intrusive. Some examples of this were noticing that we’d used our knives when eating the dip and replacing them without being asked. Taking away our mostly empty water bottle and bringing us a full one. That sort of nice touch.
Suggestions for improvement? I’ve since found out the chef is coeliac, so I’d play that up and publicise it. I can’t speak to their cross-contamination policies, but again, if I was them, I’d publicise it if their policies are good. I’d offer Scott’s Gluten-free beer to complement the other interesting artisan brews they offer. Also, the lighting was lovely and atmospheric, but there wasn’t enough light for me to take a photo of my yummy food! That’s it though. Otherwise, it was an awesome meal and I would definitely go back. Great job Ragu, and great recommendation from the Gluten-free Grocer!