- A lot of gluten free options
- Generous portions
- A bit bland
On Friday, we drove up to Parramatta for the Sydney Gluten Free Expo. It was just under a three hour drive from Canberra and we arrived at our hotel at 4.45pm. We were all pretty hungry and tired, so we wanted a nice easy option for dinner.
Travelling as a coeliac with a baby under one makes eating out difficult. We’d done a bit of research before leaving Canberra and decided to head toward Church Street, colloquially known as ‘eat street’, looking for somewhere suitable.
One of the first places we came across was Restaurant 317 and we decided to give it a shot. We’d seen it on TripAdvisor and even though it had mixed reviews, it had positive scores for its gluten free options. In support of this, it even had an advert in the toilets saying that they had an award-winning gluten free menu with over 90% gluten free items.
The restaurant was separated into two areas. There was a long restaurant to eat-in, separated by a small alleyway from the bar, kitchen and take away collection point. There was also a good amount of covered, heated outdoor seating.
The décor inside the restaurant was warm and calming. The room was quite long, the walls were a pale yellow with brown seating and wooden tables. It was a bit dark and they had some relaxing mood music.
Just outside the alley way splitting the restaurant, there was a staff member standing to help. She was friendly and helpful. In fact, all the staff were! They smiled and played with the baby as they passed by without being intrusive.
We were seated near the front entrance of the restaurant, and despite the door being closed it was a bit drafty when anyone entered the building. It wasn’t cold though. We had a small table usually meant for two people and they provided a third chair, on which they put a very trendy (but somewhat uncomfortable looking) high chair extension for the baby. There was a table caddy on the table which further restricted the space and felt a bit 90s, but when the drinks came out a staff member moved the caddy.
We spent a bit of time looking at the menu. The food was Mediterranean/Italian. It was extensive and everything gluten free was clearly marked. There were a lot of options and it all looked pretty good. It was quite pricey though, and they had an extra charge of $3 for specific gluten free items like pasta and bread which I think is extortionate.
When the staff member came over to take our order, I said I was coeliac and she knew immediately that I’d need gluten free food. Despite there being a cross contamination disclaimer on the menu, I wasn’t too worried about it because the staff knowledge when ordering seemed good. In the end, Michael chose what we ordered because I was a bit overwhelmed by the options! It’s not often that I have that many choices and this was both welcome and a bit intimidating! We planned to share the food so we requested all the food be gluten free. We ordered the garlic bread, haloumi cheese, the meat skewer, spaghetti marinara, and grilled chicken and vegetables for baby. We also ordered one diet and one regular coke.
We waited a little while for food but it all came out in a reasonable time frame. Once it had all come out, we didn’t have enough room on the table and had to move around the garlic bread and get the plate taken away for the plates and bowls to sit comfortably.
The gluten free garlic bread was disappointing. It was $9.90 for two slices including the extra $3 for gluten free bread – see previous gripe about charging extra for bread! It was not toasted and had the texture of having been microwaved. There was a very slight garlic flavour as if it had spent a day in a cupboard next to some garlic, and it was quite greasy.
The haloumi cheese was not much of an improvement. It looked good and was a good entrée size but it was very overpriced, charging an additional three dollars for including gluten free pitta bread. This took this item up to an astonishing $21.90! The plate itself was three very salty, deep fried slices of haloumi, a bit of rocket, three sundried tomatoes, and gluten free pitta bread.
The tomatoes had a nice lemony flavour which was quite enjoyable and you really needed to eat the tomato with the haloumi to cut through the saltiness. Again, it was very greasy. I didn’t try the pitta and it looked super dry. Michael confirmed it was more like a tortilla than pitta bread, and said it was definitely gluten free because it was like eating cardboard.
Unfortunately the mains didn’t get much better either! I had the meat skewer and it was a huge amount of food balanced on a tiny plate. The plate was so overloaded with chips, salad and meat skewer that it was very difficult to eat. There was no place on the plate to put the meat when you popped it off the skewer to cut into bitesize pieces. It wasn’t practical at all and I ended up shooting food off the plate in all directions!
The meat itself had very little flavour. Occasionally I would get a tiny taste of umami but the paprika, rosemary, olive oil and garlic, which the meat was allegedly marinated in, were undetectable. There was a huge amount of meat but it was quite tough, and slightly overdone.
The chips were ok. I’ve said before that getting chips that are safe for coeliacs is like finding the holy grail because hardly anywhere does them. These chips were ok, they were crunchy, although a few of the chips got soggy from the meat juice. They seemed like the frozen store‑bought variety, which is a bit disappointing at a restaurant. Like everything on the plate, they got dipped in mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was pretty good!
There was also a huge bowl of salad on the plate competing for space. The salad was fresh, it had a lot of leaves, and a nice balsamic dressing. It was dotted with tasty black olives which I usually wouldn’t eat but these ones were very nice. There were also cherry tomatoes in the salad but they weren’t very generous with these, and some large chunks of raw red onion which I picked out because I can’t stand onion breath! If the menu had listed the salad ingredients, I would’ve requested no onion.
Michael started with the spaghetti marinara. He said there was a lot of seafood in it, with mussels, octopus and prawns. He said there was a nice vinegar flavour on the octopus and the prawns were very large and well cooked. He said a bit of parmesan on top would’ve been good though, as it was missing a salty element.
While eating the pasta, I noticed Michael was eyeing it suspiciously and playing with it. This isn’t normal behaviour for Michael when we’re eating out, he’s actually very civilised in public!
When I asked him what was wrong, he said he was suspicious that the pasta was not gluten free, despite us requesting it. The texture was like regular pasta, being stretchy and elastic. Michael has been eating gluten free with me since my diagnosis and this includes weekly pasta. I trust Michael when it comes to food because he knows about food and cooking.
I was feeling apprehensive so we decided to get confirmation by asking a staff member. This is where my comfort eating at the restaurant dropped. When I asked the staff to check whether the pasta was gluten free or not, he checked at the till instead of going to the kitchen. All he did was confirm that we had requested gluten free pasta when we ordered.
Michael and I did an eye roll. The pasta was probably fine given their reputation for being gluten free, but I decided not to risk it. It was too important for me not to get sick, not just because it’s horrible but because I wanted to be 100% for the Gluten Free Expo the following day.
At the end of the meal, we asked a different staff member about the pasta. We asked her if it was made in house made or was store bought. She said she wasn’t sure but believed it was bought, not house made. Back the hotel, we checked on the restaurant’s website which confirmed their gluten free pasta was imported from Italy, not house made.
The last item we had ordered was the chicken and vegetable children’s meal for Milly – the healthiest looking option on the kids menu. This looked nice, like a smaller version of an adult meal. The chicken breast was quite large and the vegetables were a bit too al dente for the baby who is 10 months old and hasn’t got any teeth yet. It was all perfectly cooked for an older kid or adult though!
At the end of the meal, we got the bill and I paid on the other side of the restaurant at the bar. The total cost was $115.30 including a whopping $9 gluten free fee for the garlic bread, haloumi cheese and pasta.
Although the service was mostly good at Restaurant 317 and the portions were generous, the food was greasy and not particularly enjoyable. Quantity and quality is not the same. Restaurant 317 has a lot of gluten free options but they didn’t meet my expectations.
317 Church Street Parramatta NSW 2150
1300 317 317