The Marina, West Harbour – good intentions

The menu of the Marina, at first glance, looks very promising for the gluten-free amongst us, with a number of options marked GF. On closer reading there is a little note at the bottom of the page to say that these dishes had a gluten-free option available. Most excellent. I was a little concerned however when our waiter was describing a special entree to us, and I asked if it was gluten-free. He popped out to the kitchen to check, and came back to say that it wasn’t because it had brie in it, but that it could be made gluten-free. Needless to say, this was a somewhat surprising comment.

I rather fancied a nice looking steak dish which included a caramelised onion tart. It was clearly marked gluten-free, and when I ordered it, I advised the waiter that I wanted the gluten-free option. The dinner came out and it looked divine – eye fillet steak, field mushrooms, a nice jus, and the most perfect looking little tart. The tart did not look gluten-free to my eyes, so I double checked with my waiter, and sure enough, it wasn’t. The waiter did apologise and say it was his error, and that they would bring me a new dinner.

Sadly, the new dinner, whilst very nice, did NOT have a gluten-free tart. In fact, they had replaced the tart with a rather odd offering – fresh tomato and cucumber, diced very small. This didn’t go at all well with the rest of the meal, and meant that there was no carbohydrate of any sort on the plate. Now I don’t think you need carbs at every meal, but a nice potato would have been great.

So I felt that it was a bit of a swizz – the supposedly gluten-free option was not the same as the containing gluten option, and in fact they had nothing ready to make it an acceptable substitute. In defense of the dish, the steak was beautifully cooked and the mushrooms and caramelised onions were very nice. Everyone else was really pleased with their dinners.

Dessert was a little different. The waiter approached me and said they had a dessert platter which could be made gluten-free – they would just substitute plain ice cream for the deep fried ice cream. The platter was a peanut butter pudding, a chocolate torte and a scoop of berry sorbet in the end. It was delicious. My dining companions were in raptures about the desserts.

So a mixed bag at The Marina. I’d be a little dubious about their cross-contamination policies given the brie comment. I’d recommend that they do some education with their kitchen and wait staff about all things gluten, and I would seriously look at re-wording the menu. I think their good intentions are excellent, but the execution was not so good.

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