About two years ago I was having dinner at a restaurant in Surry Hills. As my friend Ute and I left the restaurant a man came out and stopped me. He asked if I was Not Quite Nigella and then told me about how much his son loved my Bloody Popcorn Brains for Halloween. He then told me about his cafe Burnie's in Clovelly. I kept it in mind and while I may lack speed I rarely forget (well only because I write it down) and Burnie's has sat on my list for two years.
It was only when I was meeting a friend Shaney who lives in Coogee that Burnie's sprang to mind again. She is a celiac and was delighted to find lots of gluten free items on the menu. You see owner Simon's two children are celiacs and he pays special attention to ensuring that the items remain as gluten free as possible (the deep fryer is gluten free and there is a separate gluten free toaster).
We examine the menu, it's short and sweet. Perhaps there are drinks but there isn't a drinks menu so we have water. Probably a good thing in terms of balance as we both pick tempting but calorific lunches (ironic as I'm scheduled for a workout with my trainer a couple of hours later). Shaney is tempted by the pulled pork burger that can be made gluten free (she confides that as she has been living in Europe pulled pork to her is still a novelty) while I am tossing up between the chicken sandwich and the steak sandwich. Simon recommends the steak sandwich as it features beetroot jam and as a beetroot lover that tips the scale towards the steak.
While we chat and wait there are plenty of pet dogs. They're well behaved and mainly stare beseechingly hoping for a chip with nary a nudge or a whimper. The food arrives and it takes a bit of time. The pulled pork is set down opposite me and it looks magnificent. Shaney delights in getting a piece of crispy, crunchy crackling. It is served with apple slaw and the best thing to do is roll up your sleeves and dig in because it is going to get rollicklingly good messy.
Sometimes you can just tell that something with be good because it smells so good. This steak sandwich is served on a toasted Turkish bread, with strips of perfectly cooked tender steak, strips of cheese, tomato, lettuce and a fantastic beetroot jam that binds it all together. I had intended to eat half but then your inner voice says "screw the training" and then you find that it's all gone. The chips it must be said are also very, very good - nostalgically so as they remind me of chips that you get at the fish and chips store. Workout? What workout?
Well when you've managed to forgot your impending training session the best thing to block the memory is with banana bread. It is a gluten free option served warmed up with some soft butter. And it's good, really good tasting of real banana. I haven't got much experience with gluten free banana bread but all I can say is that it tastes like regular banana bread and a good one at that too!
Dragging my heels I know what fate awaits. It's the punishment for an afternoon stuffing one's face with food. The yin to the yang. As Einstein said: for every action there is a reaction.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have many celiac friends? Or friends that just eat gluten free? Do you find it hard to find places to eat?
This meal was independently paid for.
48 Burnie St, Clovelly, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9664 1001
Open for 8am-2:30pm Wednesday to Sunday, dinner Friday and Saturday.