When I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I was just starting to go out on dates and was so worried about how long I could hold off on going for the dreaded meal date when I had no idea where I could eat!!
Now currently with the pandemic we aren’t really able to go out and have dates but it doesn’t mean we can’t plan them, right? So I thought what better time to share my Top 4 restaurants and Top 5 non food related date ideas, then now when we are all excited for a date night with the other half outside the house or desperate to finally go on a date with that special someone who’s kept you sane during lockdown!!
I would like to add that you will find the restaurants listed aren’t solely Gluten Free restaurants. This is due to my fiancé being able to eat gluten as he doesn’t have any intolerances, but also as I am the only person in our immediate families and friends who has any dietary restrictions. I have included menus where I can, these should take you directly to the Restaurants websites where you can check for your local one and what they offer, as some locations have differences to the menus.
My Top 4 Fav Restaurants for Date Night
Miller & Carter – Somewhere fancy but also relaxed in terms of the environment of the restaurant itself. With Miller & Carter you can dress up a little without having to go fully suited and booted (unless you really want to). The bar area is a great place to meet if you’re travelling separately, and they have a great selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks too! Now their Gluten Free menu, the reason why we are here, is so identical to their main menu that only you, your date and the staff will know that you’ve ordered gluten free. This was a massive thing for me when I was first settling into the new diet, as I didn’t want to look “awkward” or “weird”. From my experiences, staff are alway so clued up on what Coeliac Disease is and how to handle your food. Which is so reassuring! I have ate both their steaks and their chicken, with and without the iconic onion loaf (I’m sorry if you have an onion intolerance, I couldn’t help myself as I love it so much)! Everything has been carefully prepared, cooked and brought to me, and I have felt so relaxed eating there that we still use this as a date night or even a go to for family members birthday meals.
Zizzi’s – This was actually the first restaurant I actually ate in with my fiancé, and he the clever person that he is was the one who told me I could eat here! Best news I ever received, as I love Italian food. They keep their menu for allergens as up to date as they do their main menu, including seasonal updates. The thing with Zizzi’s that makes it a good date place is you have the choice to dress up like you do at Miller & Carter, but you can also have a lunch time date and keep it a little more casual. The environment is always friendly and Also if you aren’t feeling Pasta or Pizza they do delicious salads and fish dishes. Zizzi’s also offer vegan and non-gluten items which is perfect if you have other intolerances alongside gluten! They also have incredible drinks, a personal favourite of mine is the raspberry and mint cooler, so I am very excited to try their new orange and watermelon one!! What I have experienced when eating at Zizzi’s is that when you order from the non-gluten menu they will be asked if its an allergen or preference. When you state allergen they will ask what it is, this is solely for your safety and also theirs, so they can ensure that you are only provided with food that is safe for you and you are not misguided. The staff are also very clued up and are able to answer any questions! A perfect example of this was when I went for my works Christmas Meal there, and they gave me a brownie that looked like a few of my colleagues. I double checked with the waitress and she informed me that the brownie across their menus is naturally gluten free as it doesn’t contain any flour which is why it looked identical to my colleagues. I trusted her, ate it and had no reaction at all!
Hickories – Now Hickories do have amazing cocktails, mocktails and proper Southern style drinks including amazing ice teas! But my favourite thing about Hickories is that you can dress as casual as you like and even go on a double date! My biggest advice with Hickories is to not eat anything big for lunch if you are going on the evening, purely because their portion sizes are decent and you will have a massive menu to pick from! Starters, mains, sides and deserts! What more could you want?! Hickories is a good, American style bbq place that is also family friendly. We have been with friends on a double date, my parents and with my parents and brother for birthdays! The staff at Hickories follow strict guidelines from the government, which means when you order a manager should come over to you and confirm that what you’ve ordered is safe for your intolerance/coeliac disease. They should then also bring your food out with a little flag in, but the flag doesn’t identify an allergy like what you would see at Nandos. If this doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to double check with the manager that your food has been prepared safely. I have been to Hickories properly 3 times in total, and only once have we had to question it. They were so apologetic for it and even went and triple checked with the chef that the food was safe for me, and it made me feel cared for which for me is important when dealing with such a big dietary requirement.
Prezzo – Another great Italian restaurant, Prezzo really feels like a intimate restaurant! Even when busy there is a sense of everyone is there for there own experience, there is no fear of people watching. Something that makes a first date/first food date venue more relaxing. It’s also a great place for meeting each others friends for the first time, due to the intimacy of the tables and the relaxed environment. Prezzo’s gluten free menu is very similar to their main menu, with identical dishes, however it does look very different as the size of the menu paper itself is so drastically different. Why their main menu is so large I don’t know, but the food and the service makes up for it! My favourite menu items have got to be the meatball starter, the garlic bread and the carbonara pasta bake! Followed by the delicious Citrus Cooler cocktail, which is so refreshing yet has the right level of tangy to it I always order it! We enjoy prezzo because you can also go for a lunch time date not just evening, and we have also go with friends and family (on different occasions including birthdays and telling our friends we were expecting a baby). Why I enjoy it as a coeliac is down to the professionalism, the feeling of being included and that my food isn’t an issue to them to prepare. Now I haven’t experienced many places that make me feel like its an issue, but Prezzo is definitely one of those restaurants that just make you feel very cared for naturally. Something I value as someone with such a serious issue based around food and my health.
I have included the link to their website as you will need to check your local restaurant for items and prices, however, when I checked our local menu it appears to be a reduced one. I can only assume this is in relation to covid-19.
My Top 5 Non Food Related Date Ideas
Live Performance – Music, Theatre, Comedians; Now my fiancé is not one for the theatre and I haven’t seen a comedian live. However, we are both very into the music scene and love going to gigs/concerts! We have so far managed to go to The 1975, LANY, Halsey (that was definitely more for me haha) and have plans for many more in the future when things get back up and running. My favourite thing about these types of dates is that they are so low key and relaxed, that it doesn’t matter if you are a fan or not, and they also give you a little more of an insight into one and other without it feeling like an intrusive round of 21 questions.
Cinema – Everyman; Now where we live we are quite lucky to have an Everyman cinema and a “standard” cinema very close to us. Our favourite thing about the Everyman is you get to sit on a sofa together, have a table to put your drink and snacks and the food there looks incredible! Now I, as a coeliac, cannot eat anything other than the popcorn and a few of the snacks in the chocolate department. However, I personally don’t enjoy eating burgers in the cinema. The cinema is such a nice relaxed date, that you can whack whatever outfit on! I personally love a good jean and top combo from a bloat friendly wardrobe (- you need to check out the hashtag mybloatedwardrobe on instagram started by The Tummy Diaries, the inspo on there is unreal!), and you can meet there like 30 minutes beforehand as they have a lovely seating area and do great drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as well as hot and cold!
Day trip to another city – We’ve done this a few times now, including going to a Free From Event in Oxford. This may be something more when you are both comfortable with each other, or as a date day when you’re already in a relationship, but either way its such a good experience! Whether you drive or get public transport, you are in the company of each other all day yet there is no pressure to do anything too extravagant or fancy, unless you really want to. We have been to Nottingham and Oxford a few times, and have also been to London for the weekend (which I know is a bit different to a day trip), where we have looked round the shops or explored the town centre just taking in the scenery. We have included going for food in these, but you really don’t have too. You could visit museums, local landmarks such as castles or nature parks. If you did want to incorporate food, but not a restaurant, you could organise a picnic that you pack and look after. Easy way to have safe foods for you without feeling awkward or like a nuisance.
Ghetto Golf / Crazy Golf – We actually have only done a crazy golf styled date once when we went to Oxford for the weekend, but, before Lockdown happened we were looking into going to Ghetto Golf as I have never been. Similar to going to an arcade, it is so much fun going to crazy golf! You don’t have to be into golf or even be good at it to go, you get to laugh at the scores/the shots/the set up of the hole your’e at. With places like Ghetto golf, you can add cocktails/mocktails to the mix, and there are no children so it can often be more funnier as there are more ‘adult’ decorations to have a laugh at. Although, I do hear there is a clown room in Ghetto Golf, so if like me clowns are not your thing, be very prepared!! Again this is an activity date you can do as a pair, with couple friends, or even a perfect mate date with the girls/boys! A bit of friendly competition never hurt did it 😉
Bowling & Arcades; If you are looking for a bit of fun and some friendly competition you can do this as a couple or add a few couple friends and make it a double/triple date! Visiting the Bowling alley and Arcades is such a timeless date, they are often in one location and can be quite cheap too! With bowling I will say book a few games, we did it just the two of us and two games went so quickly we ended up going to the cinema too! Which to be honest, was a really good date overall, and was our second ever date! My favourite thing about these date nights is getting to have a laugh, its the least embarrassing as you will both be bad at something if not the same thing and it is just all about being in the moment. You’ll end up with some really good memories too! We still laugh about how we thought two games for just the two of us would be enough.
Some of these may not be to your taste, but sometimes a date you have never done before or would never do can be so much fun! Even if you never do it again…
I would love to hear some of your date ideas too, please feel free to share what’s your favourite type of date! If you try one of these date ideas, let me know how you found it!
The Unlucky Coeliac xo