Back in July, a group of us decided to try out the Sir Charles Hotham Hotel for my mum’s birthday. Around the corner from King George’s Fish and Grill, I’d seen their large banner promoting their gluten free menu a few times. Checking them out online proved that they definitely knew their stuff; stating that they even bake their own gluten free bread. “[gluten free] Meals are cooked separately with no contamination.” I also confirmed via email that no ingredients with may contain statements are used in any of their gluten free dishes. You can find the Hotham Hotel just a short walk from the waterfront and not far from the CBD.
They have a separate gluten free menu for both lunch and dinner service. The menus have quite a few dishes with a decent variety to suit all tastes. The dining area is small with lovely mood lighting. While the mood lighting did make for a good atmosphere it played havoc with my photos.
First of all, seeing as both my mother and I were excited to try their house-baked gluten free bread. We ordered both the Garlic Bread ($6.50) and the Herb and Cheese Bread ($7.00).
The bread was soft and fluffy for both varieties. Although, as time passed it did become slightly dense. The herb and cheese had a lovely refreshing flavour mixed with gooey cheese that had me going back for more. The garlic bread had strong garlic notes and a buttery texture.
In addition to the bread, we also ordered a starter of Salt and Pepper Squid. We all know how much I love salt and pepper squid. Perfectly cooked calamari melted in my mouth with a subtle salt and pepper flavour. The addition of the garlic aioli was creamy but didn’t add much to the dish. Top it with lemon and that’s good enough for me.
I was surprised when mum ordered the Chicken, bacon, mushroom risotto ($20). That’s usually a dish that I would order. She was impressed with the size of the dish and the flavour. There was plenty of chicken and mushrooms with a lovely creamy garlic flavour. However, the chicken bone she found in the dish was definitely less impressive. Thankfully they were extremely apologetic and took money off the bill for the mistake.
I personally wanted to try something a little bit different and went with the Beef and Vegetable Hot Pot Pie ($18). The gluten free version was topped with mash potato instead of pastry, which was fine by me. The pie was served in a ramekin with chips and salad. In my opinion, the chips were a bit of overkill. With the cheesy mash on top, it felt like a carb overload.
Thankfully mum was there to help me eat them. If you are looking for a winter warming meal then this pot pie is definitely the way to go. With chunky beef, flavorful gravy and an assortment of vegetables I was a happy little Coeliac. I added the tomato relish on the top for a burst of freshness and then mixed everything through. I will mention the ramekin is deceptively small, the pie was extremely filling and worth the price.
Desserts were a must for a birthday celebration. There are three gluten free desserts on the menu:
- House made Sticky Date Pudding ($9.50)
- Banana Fritter ($7.50)
- Pavlova – ($7.50)
Since there were four of us, we were able to get one of each. Brody even got the non-gluten free sticky date for comparison.
I’ve never had a Banana Fritter before so I picked that dessert without hesitation. The batter was very crispy surrounding the warm gooey banana inside. Cinnamon sugar coated them for extra sweetness. Served on the side to even out the flavours was a vanilla ice cream. All sitting on a honey drizzle that I mopped up to enjoy. Would I have this dessert again? Yes, yes I would.
The Sticky date pudding was more of a cake, mostly because it had a fluffy texture. Brody said this was the biggest difference between the gluten and gluten free varieties. There were small chunks of date throughout the slice and again for the price it is a decent portion. Served with a side of ice cream it definitely hit the spot for mum. I just wish I’d brought candles.
The Pavlova was delicious according to the person who ate it. A large slice topped with kiwi fruit and passion fruit syrup. Leaving nothing behind reinforces the idea you can’t go wrong with pav.
We all left full and content with the nights’ offerings. The Sir Charles Hotham Hotel definitely proves you can find gluten free food with knowledgeable people in places where you may not expect it. For future get togethers with my family in Geelong it seems like this will be one of our new go to venues.
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Until Next Time;