Holyhead isn't the easiest place to find a gluten free meal in, luckily the Harbourfront Bistro is on the sea front and is almost completely gluten free.
Harbourfront Bistro is set in the Maritime Museum on the harbour right by the breakwater. In daylight, if you are there at the right time you have a great view of the ferries coming along the harbour and into dock.
Surf and turf - steak topped with garlic prawns with chips, side salad and peppercorn sauce
Unfortunately the bistro is only open 3 or 4 days a week and then it's only a few hours at lunch time and then a few hours at night. This is the only downside with it, at weekends it gets very busy too, so advisable to book in advance.
We went on a Thursday evening and there was only us and another couple in, it was so quiet the chef was the only member of staff on duty, this isn't the case come Friday and Saturday though, on those days you are hard pushed to get a seat unless you have reserved.
I can't say I have ever been served by the chef before in any restaurant but it really is great when you do, they can tell you straight off what is and
Steak and chips with onion rings, chips, side salad and peppercorn sauce
isn't in your food. This was my first visit but my parents have been multiple times (pictures of the steak and panacotta are courtesy of my Mum on a previous visit) so I had a rough idea of what was on the menu and what to expect.
The chef handed us the menu and the corner pointed out "Coeliacs: All dishes marked GF are ALWAYS prepared gluten free. All dishes marked GF? can be REQUESTED gluten free". Idly looking down the menu nearly everything was marked with GF of GF? including burgers.
When the chef came back to take our order I casually mentioned I was Coeliac as he had disappeared before I could mention it before. He responded by telling us that he always uses gluten free flours in the kitchen apart from on a Sunday when he does Yorkshire Puddings, other than that everything he uses is gluten free, only things that aren't are bought in products like bread. Everything is made from scratch so he can easily eliminate gluten in dishes that aren't already gluten free. Only things that are fried are chips and onion rings and he makes the onion rings with gluten free flour so no contamination issues from the fryer either.
White chocolate creme brulee
Spoilt for choice I settled on ordering a surf and turf, steak topped with garlic prawns. The wait for food did take a while even though there was just us and the other couple however that didn't concern us as we could see the kitchen, which is all open at the back, and could see that absolutely everything was prepared fresh to order. We could see everything the chef was doing and he was meticulous about keeping everything away from my fiances burger, making sure to keep his bread over the other side of the kitchen and always washing his hands. It was nice to see how much pride and effort a chef put into both cooking and cross contamination.
The food arrived fresh and hot, a delicious juicy steak cooked exactly how I had asked for it (rare, some places just can't get rare right!),topped with amazing garlic prawns, a pile of chips, a side of creamy peppercorn sauces (there were others available but that's what I asked for) and a huge side salad. The prices may not have been the cheapest but it was certainly worth every penny.
Vanilla panacotta and berry compote
We couldn't leave without trying dessert, I had heard too much about the desserts from my Mum (who loves the panacotta) that I couldn't not try one. Before ordering this time the chef pointed out what I could and couldn't have as some had changed since the menu had been printed, on this day the lemon and lime cheesecake wasn't gluten free as the chef had been unable to get gluten free ginger biscuits but the dish is usually gluten free. He also noted there had been an error during printing and the sticky toffee pudding and the tiramisu weren't gluten free. Other than that there was the choice of chocolate brownie, white chocolate creme brulee, panna cotta or ice cream. Couldn't turn my nose up at those options since a lot of places only have ice cream.
It was a hard decision after everything I had been told about the panacotta but in the end I opted for white chocolate creme brulee. I am so glad I did opt for it too, it was divine, perfect balance between an egg custard consistency and a mild velvety white chocolate flavour, it was a little piece of heaven in a dish topped with half a strawberry. I could have easily eaten it at least once or twice more!
Neither of us can wait to go back, it might be slightly pricey but it is well worth it, for the knowledge of the chef and the quality of the food, it is an absolutely wonderful place to eat at. Whether we have the same food again or actually try something else is anyone's guess, the dishes we did try were so good I'm not sure we will want to try anything different. Really can't wait to visit again!