I don’t have celiac disease, but I do have another autoimmune condition that is triggered by gluten, as well as IBS with a gluten sensitivity. I tested negative to celiac disease, but did test positive on an antibody blood test to gluten intolerance. Last year a support group on the internet suggested that I start eating gluten free after my situation worsened and my health took a turn for the worse. After just 4 weeks completely gluten free I was finding my situation definitely improved – so for the indefinite future I find myself eating gluten free. It’s been a big adjustment, especially to travel and holidays as well as eating out. I find it fairly easy to cook gluten free recipes in the home, but eating out is another matter.
I have reviewed my full visit to Bluestone National Park Wales including the Winter Lights and the new Serendome as well. You should definitely read it if you’re interested in visiting the park.
Bluestone Wales – Pembrokeshire
Last week we headed to Bluestone Resort in Pembrokeshire, Wales – that’s my husband of 12 years and my two year old above (yes, I know he’s big, he’s in 4T clothing now). You can read a full review of my stay there along with the Winter Lights, but I also wanted to specifically talk about my experiences of being gluten free and on a resort where the aim is for you to not need to leave the park for your holiday. This is a free range, natural, outdoorsy holiday in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Park, where they say “We believe in sandy toes, skipping pebbles, splashing puddles and capturing bugs – all before bedtime. At Bluestone, escaping into the forest is a necessity and there’s always a place at the campfire for a new friend.”
Would I have to escape from the resort to find Gluten free offerings? Would I be relegated to eating in my lodge every night, having to do the cooking and washing up on holiday? As this was my first holiday since going completely gluten free, it was something I worried about.
Eating Gluten Free at Bluestone Wales
Gluten free / allergy menus were not available on the Bluestone Wales website when I visited, but it does say to email the reservations team if you have any allergy needs. I emailed ahead of booking and they sent me over an allergy PDF which allowed me to assess the offerings before going, allowing us to book a night at the Oak Tree Restaurant. This wasn’t exactly the same as what I was offered in the restaurant on the night, but close enough to give an accurate idea of what options were available. You definitely want to book at the Oak Tree Restaurant in advance if you can to avoid disappointment as it gets very busy, so knowing in advance if you can actually eat the food is pretty important! I was pleased to see quite a few offerings either gluten free or with a gluten free alternative available on request. Other allergens that were highlighted were crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya beans, milk, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame and sulphites.
Gluten Free Fish and Chips
On the first night we didn’t arrive until 7pm and were starving. Before we’d even unpacked I’d sent my husband out to The Chippy – a fish and chip shop on the edge of the village. He was driving our golf buggy navigating in the dark so I was 50/50 on whether he’d get lost, but apparently he found it mostly because of the queue of people outside – it was a popular choice for day one. There they do gluten free fishcakes and cook gluten free chips separate to the main chips. It’s all cooked to order, very fresh and the fishcakes were really full of flavour and herbs. The best fishcakes I’ve had yet. My husband ordered 2 fishcakes and a large chips for me because I hadn’t given him instructions – this was WAY too much food for one person, so I had it for lunch the next day too.
My husband and son had regular fish and chips which got a thumbs up.
Gluten Free at the Oak Tree Restaurant
Once we were in the Oak Tree Restaurant itself the allergy menu was slightly different, but very in depth and clear. The menu in the restaurant had a traffic light system which was very easy to use. In the Oak Tree Restaurant I ate a Chicken Burger (with gluten free bun), bacon and cheese, fries and salad. The gluten free bun was fresh, lightly toasted and pretty good. The ketchup on the tables in all the venues is Hellman’s which is Gluten Free.
My husband had Gammon Steak and chips – this was a naturally gluten free meal as well. The gammon steak was 13oz and HUGE. Our son asked for a sandwich which they didn’t have on the menu, but they did have a kids platter with bread and butter. If you removed the bread and butter this platter would be gluten free, and I did notice that there was always a kids menu choice that was gluten free as well.
Gluten Free in The Terrace, Serendome
In the new Serendome there are The Terraces which clearly show what options are gluten free on the menus outside each booth. I was pleased to be able to fill some corn tortillas to the max with all of the toppings, delicious. (There were three, I ate one before remembering to photograph it, we’d just been swimming and I was starving!) There were also gluten free options at the South American booth and at the Burger booth, as well as lots of Joe’s ice cream flavours, most of which is gluten free.
Gluten Free at Wildwood Cafe
In the Wildwood Cafe I asked for a Gluten Free Toastie filled with peppered chicken, bacon and mozarella cheese, but sadly they were out of gluten free bread. They offered to make it with a gluten free roll instead, and ended up bringing out two tasty toasted buns and a pile of crisps. I was absolutely stuffed. They were really helpful about everything and offered plenty of alternatives.
My son was being fussy and insisted on chips and tomato (not tomato sauce for once, but actually tomatoes.. who knows what goes on in the mind of a 2 year old) so I bought him a side of chips and a house salad, these are naturally gluten free.
Other Gluten Free options at Bluestone
There’s a pizza restaurant that also does take out and all of their pizzas can be made on a gluten free base, but we’d eaten out quite a lot by this time and didn’t try it. There’s also a pub/restaurant called the Knight’s Tavern, where you don’t have to book. It was closed for refurbishment, but I checked out the menu and saw several things I’d have been delighted to order and likewise I noticed some gluten free cakes available in the coffee shop as well as most of the ice creams being gluten free (they also had sorbet for those eating dairy free), but had to regretfully decline as I’m watching my calories.
Finally in the grocery shop, should you decide to take advantage of the full self catering facilities in the lodge (including a dishwasher so don’t worry about the washing up) there was a respectable array of basic gluten free options, which I was very pleased to see. I snagged a packet of biscuits as a cough taste test. They were so good I had to share them with the rest of the family.
Final impressions of eaten Gluten Free at Bluestone
My impression across the board at Bluestone Resort was that the staff were aware of allergies and clued up on how to offer and explain menus to guests. They were more than happy to talk about how things were prepared and to try to find an alternative if needed. I never felt like there was something I would have wanted but couldn’t have. It was clear that serious effort had been made at every point to make sure there were inclusive items on the menu for all dietary needs.
If you have celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance of any kind and want to eat gluten / wheat free for your holiday then I feel confident that you won’t have any problems on the resort for your whole stay.
Disclosure – I was gifted a short break at Bluestone Resort as part of their Bluestone Blogger program, no food was included in my stay and I paid for all of our food and meals ourselves. They did not know I was gluten free when I was invited to stay and did not ask me to write about it, but I wanted to share my experience for other gluten free travelers or those with celiac disease.