Today I revisited The Potting Shed, a wonderful little cafe which is at a garden centre in Jersey Park, St Albans. I’d just RUN a ParkRun (Jersey Farm) for the first time since before lockdown (GO ME!) with my friends Graham and Dani and had forgotten how brilliant they were with allergen catering.
Why I recommend The Potting Shed
They just get it, they understand allergies and all the staff are kind, attentive and diligent in checking allergens and understand the various dangers, like contamination in a fryer from wheat. And if the staff aren’t sure they go and get one of the members of staff who is. It’s how it should work and it makes for a relaxed and enjoyable breakfast.
- Gluten free options – The menu has lots of gluten free options so is great for anyone who is coeliac or has a wheat allergy.
- Plant milk – They have a choice of plant milks, including oat, almond and another option I’ve forgotten. I chose the oat milk.
- Knowledgeable – They are able to advise on each menu option with regards to the allergens that might be present and checked the hash browns for me. They were safe with regards to ingredients but were fried in the same fryer as wheat containing items. Attention to detail like this are what make me feel safer. For me, my wheat allergy is my mildest allergy, and whilst I get quite a severe reaction to wheat (let’s just say explosive and not go into any more detail) I’ve never had anaphylaxis, so it’s less scared of this allergen. For instance I’m OK sharing a toaster with people who can toast wheaty bread and do this on occasion. The wheat allergy for me is dose related and for me, this is a safe risk. Not so with my dairy and nut allergy – these are so severe, resulting in anaphylaxis and I don’t take any risks.
- Choice – This was the second time visiting this cafe and I remember from last time that they had gluten free sausages which were safe and were able to check the mushrooms (potential dairy risk if fried in butter) and they have gluten free toast. Consequently I can recommend the All day breakfast too!
- Those hash brown bites – Our waitress today was on top form, not only did she actually remember me from last time, she upsold us these delicious little hash brown treats. Try these unless you are coeliac or have a serious wheat allergy as the fryer could be contaminated with wheat.
- The chips – I didn’t actually sample the chips but THE ARE SAFE for coeliacs as they have a dedicated cooking method.
- Mimosa orange juice – It was a day for celebrating, firstly my first time back running a ParkRun in such a long time, my healing as my skin really is looking so much better, feels so good to be on an upwards healing trajectory. And also, on that same note, for the first time in for as long as I can remember it was one of those golden mornings when the morning routine was completely unhindered by any worry about my face, flakes, itching or discomfort. I was half way to Parkrun in my car before I realised I hadn’t moisturised nor looked at my face or even touched it. A very lovely feeling and of course when I realised this my chin was instantly itchy and I had a little scratch… the mind is weird like that. I have been itchy now for hours since I got home though so there’s karma. It’s manageable though and my Cosi Care stars are getting me through. Probably the blooming tomato – perhaps I need to continue avoiding that is just seems to make me so itchy… why, why, why though?
- Lovely shop and plants – Bonus points for having one of those garden centre shops you can get lost in for ages and also lovely plants. I haven’t yet had time to really browse but worth a mooch if you can.
- The staff – Our waitress and waiter were just so friendly, helpful, checked things for me, were smiley and we even got a replacement Mimosa after I spilt mine without seconds of it being put on the table… 😉 They didn’t need to do that as it was totally my fault being a clutz so thanks guys!
- Location – It’s close to Jersey Park so if you want to visit after ParkRun or a country walk, it’s the perfect location and has lots of parking and is easy to find.
- Ambience – It’s a lovely comfortable, warm and cosy cafe. On a cold winter’s day, after our run it was a really lovely place to enjoy breakfast and good company.
- Crockery – This may sound daft but I love a pretty mug and these ones didn’t disappoint. I’m sure it makes the coffee taste nicer.
- The little touches – the meals all looked amazing, with dill, seeds, beetroot humous, and little touches that made them feel more special than a bog standard breakfast.
Avocado and poached eggs
Honestly this was so damn tasty. It came with smashed avocado with tomatoes in it (I’m trying to reintroduce tomato into my diet – fingers crossed), beetroot humous, the perfect runny egg poached eggs with seeds, dill and some other salad stuff. It was presented so beautifully and tasted amazing. All the better for coming after a challenging ParkRun which I managed to run in just over 30 minutes so very pleased with that considering it had hills and was mostly on trails.
So if you’re looking for a safe allergen friendly eating out experience in the St Albans area, give this place a go. I’d always recommend normally phoning before going somewhere but this place were brilliant, even without warning.
They’ve obviously trained their staff well in allergen management in food service establishments and take allergies very seriously. I highly recommend. Thanks guys.