Situated on the former site of the first ever Harry Ramsden’s, the Wetherby Whaler in Guiseley has kept much of the charm of the old building, along with an excellent reputation for fish and chips. There are high ceilings and glittering chandeliers, and most importantly, a gluten-free fryer.
Although I occasionally enjoyed fish and chips in my gluten days, they were never really an essential part of my being, so the only other gluten-free fish and chips I have tried since diagnosis is the very tiny Seine Rigger in Surrey, which has a dedicated gluten-free fryer, but you have to book in advance, and even then can only choose the smaller fish (I guess their fryer is REALLY small!). So when my ever patient boyfriend rang up to book the Wetherby Whaler, he was told you don’t need to book, not for a table, nor for gluten-free. Excellent.
We turned up at about noon on a Saturday and it’s lucky we turned up early as the place was packed by the time we left, mostly silver haired women turning up in droves. As we sat down, I asked the waitress what I could have that was gluten-free, as there was no mention of it anywhere on the menu. She can’t have been much more than about 18, looked nervous, and said “I’ll just check for you”.
That’s GOOD service for us coeliacs. We LOVE it when you check for us, as it puts our minds at ease. When she returned, she let me know that I could have any fish done gluten-free for me. I chose the regular haddock.
Every fish dinner they do comes with bread and butter plus tea included in the price, so I was very impressed when the bread and butter for the gluten-eaters was put on the far end of the table from me.
When my fish was brought to me, I almost got a bit scared as it looked so… normal! The batter at the Seine Rigger must use quite a lot of rice flour, as it is paler, but this batter looked just right. Perfectly golden brown.
The taste didn’t disappoint. The fish was succulent, meaty and wonderful, while the batter was crispy and flavoursome. It certainly didn’t taste “gluten-free”. The chips were wonderful – I just wish I had remembered to bring my own vinegar.
The portions were huge – so big that my boyfriend and his mother didn’t finish their plates. I, on the other hand, ploughed through, for it is not often that I get to have fish and chips that is so good!
Overall, I’d give their gluten-free fish and chips 9.5/10 – it was almost the perfect fish and chips. What would it have needed to get to 10/10? Simple, small details: a wedge of lemon, an alternative to malt vinegar, maybe mushy peas instead of the bread. But that’s just me being fussy because it really was a delicious meal, and hats off to them for doing a marvellous job.
It was also an incredibly fuss-free environment: turn up, order gluten-free, gluten-free comes to you. No booking, no tedious checking about cross-contamination: the staff were knowledgeable, friendly and efficient. What more could you want?
As an aside I’d like to mention something to business owners everywhere. By catering for gluten-free diets, you aren’t just getting the odd bit of custom. There were three of us this time, and we all went there because I knew I could eat something. Sometimes when I go up to Yorkshire, there could potentially be 6 of us eating out, and by catering for me, you get all their custom too. So instead of measuring how many gluten-free meals are ordered, try measuring the total number of people on their table – it’s likely that they dragged them along for the ride.
The Wetherby Whaler has gluten-free fryers in its Guiseley and Wakefield branches.