BY TOBY PORTER
The jokes about battering the opposition are probably wearing a bit thin for Olley’s Fish Experience. But the trophy cabinet at their award-winning restaurant in Herne Hill, has just got even fuller, after its gluten-free menu won another gong.
Olley’s won the gold medal – the highest accolade possible – in the Creme de la Creme category at the annual FreeFrom Eating Out Awards after judges “mystery-dined” the restaurant.
They scrutinised not just its gluten-free fish and chips but also the knowledge and ability of staff to deal with customers with various dietary requirements.
The Creme de la Creme award is only open to shops that have won their category in previous years, something Olley’s achieved last year when it was awarded a gold medal in the Fish and Chip Shop category. The Norwood Road restaurant and takeaway now offers gluten-free fish and chips seven days a week alongside its traditional fish and chips.
Its gluten-free offering is prepared in a separate section of the kitchen and cooked in a fryer dedicated only to gluten-free foods, ensuring absolutely no chance of contamination.
As well as fish and chips, it offers gluten-free vinegar, a range of sides including mushy peas, baked beans and mash potatoes as well as a selection of gluten-free beers and ciders. It has recently put its staff through an intensive training programme run by Coeliac UK, the national charity for people suffering from gluten intolerance.
Judges said they felt valued and looked after and described the staff as being “very informed and aware when introducing the special gluten-free menu”.
The fish and chips was said to be excellent with the batter described as “crispy, thick and crunchy with flaky soft white fish inside”, with the mystery judge adding: “The service was excellent and the portions very generous. My non-coeliac friend didn’t even realise that he was enjoying gluten-free fish and chips.”
Owner Harry Niazi said: “This award is a fantastic pat on the back for the team and provides reassurance that all the practices we have in place work, and are at such a level that customers with food allergies and intolerances can have total confidence that Olley’s is a safe place to eat.
“Catering for the gluten-free market is a serious business and we know that. We have invested in the best gluten-free batter, separate utensils and fryer, and we have branded wooden food picks to differentiate gluten-free food from dishes containing gluten.
“As such, we’ve seen our gluten-free fish and chips become increasingly popular year-on-year which is why, last month, we decided to serve them every day of the week.
“Now families, friends and work colleagues can all eat together whenever fish and chips take their fancy, rather than being dictated to by which day of the week it is.”
Olley’s serves 10 different species of fish as well as other chip shop favourites such as pies and sausages on Mondays, 5pm-9.30pm, and Tuesdays to Sundays, noon-3pm and 5pm-9.30pm.
The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards, which are now in their fourth year, encourage innovation and celebrate excellence in the Freefrom food service industry.
They are run by FreeFrom FoodsMatter, an online resource for celebrating innovation shown by the food industry in creating foods that are free of wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, sulphites and other allergens.