May 30, 2011

Getting Out of the City – Shelby’s Brasserie – Many Dairy Free & Gluten Free Options

I love the city and all the options it offers but every now and then I get bored and just want to go somewhere new and feel a different atmosphere or look at some new scenery. Last Friday was one of these days… My Dad was in town so he, my sister and me jumped in the car and headed out to Bray for dinner. We ended up in the locally owned and family run Shelby’s Brasserie which is known for its accommodating menu which clearly denotes which items can be made

- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Vegetarian

I had made a reservation for 3 earlier in the day which was lucky because despite the fact that we were dining early (7pm) by 8 o’clock every table was occupied, on both floors! There were birthdays and ‘girls night outs’ and family get-togethers and of course couples and friends all pouring in to dine at Bray’s award winning restaurant (Best Restaurant in Bray 2009 & Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Great Places to Eat 2010). The service was attentive and the menu, although hard to read as a basic menu, was clearly labeled with Early Bird options (available all night), Dairy free, Gluten free & Vegetarian possibilities.

The menu asks you to tell your waiter if you require the Dairy free, Gluten free or Vegetarian options because the items are not necessarily suitable but can be made suitable. The great thing was that there were many ‘amendable’ options for Gluten free and Dairy free diners which were evenly spread across the main menu items as well as early bird items. With 5 Dairy free and 9 Gluten free starters (4 of which could be both) and 8 Dairy free and 14 Gluten free mains (8 of which could be both) it was easy enough to find something to tempt the buds. The not so great thing was that there was only 2 Vegetarian main options (with only 1 of these being Gluten free) and 1 Vegetarian starter –the soup– (which luckily was Dairy free and Gluten free as well) so my recommendation for Shelby’s to the food allergy world would be for meat eaters only! I really wish that restaurants across the country would stop making their vegetarian meals so dependent on dairy, it could make my life so much easier ;)

We had only two small hiccups:

1. The waiter told us that the fish cakes were part of the early bird menu that day & seeing that they had a Dairy free option my sister and I both ordered them only to be told after sending our order to the kitchen that they couldn’t actually be made Dairy free. Probably just a typo on the menu. I always try to remember to never get my hopes up before the food arrives! Also, the early bird menu on the internet denotes the penne pasta to be Vegetarian and Gluten free possible but there seems to be a typo here as well (either on the web or the menu) because it is only listed as Vegetarian possible. Again, stressing the importance of telling your waiter about your food allergies because typos are a fact of life and you should never believe everything that you read!

2. The other hiccup was that we didn’t realize & were not advised that we should order side dishes. It was stated on the menu, but like I said, there was something peculiarly difficult to read about the menu. So, our meals were almost vegetable free which was a shame, but not a major deal.

Among our Dairy free and Gluten free dinners was the Lamb Burger in a Modern Irish cuisine fashion which was quite tasty. It came as literally a burger with some red onion jam on top and a bowl of massive hand-cut potato chips. There was also a Confit of Duck Leg with roasted red peppers & papaya and a peach dressing. The duck was a bit over-done and the fruit could have been a bit more ripe as it had a bite to it but papaya is hard to get in Dublin. There was also a Pan-fried Breast of Chicken with a three bean cassoulet. The cassoulet was tasty but not amazing but the chicken was perfectly cooked and extremely moist and tender. We also had the Baked Ham & Chicken Terrine with a pumpkin & pineapple Compote which came without the garlic ciabatta despite the request for this dish only being Dairy free, but luckily there was a side order made of Shelby Fries which were deep fried potato cubes with garlic, thyme & onion. This was made without butter to suit our Dairy free needs. It was also reassuring that the waiter confirmed, of her own accord, that the fries were made without butter when serving them to the table.

Two of our dinners fell into the early bird category which made the night out affordable for almost anyone’s budget. The Early Bird is valid all night and includes two courses for €19.00 and 3 courses for €21.00 selected from the starred items on the menu (note: all meals include an additional 10% service charge). The sad, but expected news is that there were no Dairy free options on the dessert menu. However, 3 of the 7 listed items could be made Gluten Free (such as the Chocolate and Mint Parfait or the Orange & Cointreau Crème Brulee). The waiter did suggest a fruit salad as a dessert option, which was thoughtful but instead we headed home because we, as a family, are used to deserting dessert…

My summary of Shelby’s is that although I have had more amazing meals in my life, the food was higher on the quality scale than many restaurants I’ve been to and it was nice to know exactly what on the menu could be catered to our food allergies. It is also always great to get to eat in restaurant without any fear of crossed-wires with the kitchen or having to ask a million and one questions... Not to mention the added benefit of getting out of the city!

Shelby’s Brasserie
73 Main St
Co. Wicklow

Tel: (01) 276 8894
Opening Times: Mon – Sat 17:00 to late; Sun 18:00 to late


Adventures in Veg said...

Ooh I'd never heard of this place, thanks for the review! It is a pity they don't do many veggie options though so I doubt I'll be visiting soon.
I wish places realised that not every veggie eats cheese and that more and more people are vegan...thankfully there are places like that (if you're in Cork, definitely go to the Liberty Grill) but not that many.
Still, I'm thankful for whatever suitable places there are :)

Aurea@Survival Guide said...

I know, I always think vegetarian options that weigh heavily on cheese & dairy is a bit lazy.. but hopefully someday the tables will turn! It is great how slowly more and more restaurants are becoming aware of different dietary needs.
I can't wait to check out Libery Grill next time I'm in Cork - thanks for the recommendation!

Adventures in Veg said...

No prob! I know they have some gluten free options & dairy free options & are happy to accomodate your needs. They have a new vegan cake that they're adding to the menu soon and it is DIVINE. The tomato & avocado starter on gluten-free bread is delicious!