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The delight of tapas for me is in sharing. I don't like being just confined to one option, so tapas is ideal because it means I can pick and choose between a variety of different dishes. Sometimes tapas can be a logistical nightmare for gluten free-ers, trying to navigate which dishes you can and cannot eat, while ensuring no one on the table misses out on what they want. But Lilicos in Barnstaple not only serves the most delicious tapas I've ever had, it also makes anyone with coeliac disease feel so welcome.
I eat here a lot...probably more than my bank account would like! But it's always top of my list of places to go and there are so many reasons why. It's a beautiful restaurant, with lovely Mediterranean decor and a friendly feel. They also do great live music in the bar area on Thursday evenings! Then on the menu you are greeted very clearly with this:
"Please let your server know if you have any allergies or you are intolerant of some foods, coeliac or vegan and we can inform the kitchen. If a dish is vegetarian in description you can be assured that no meat products have been used. "
When you tell the waitress you are gluten free, you're bought the special gluten free menu where dishes are clearly marked. It helps that one of the staff members is also coeliac! And there is so much choice - from gluten free pitta bread to go with the fantastic houmous, warm gluten free rolls and a range of tapas dishes which are naturally free from gluten, you'll be spoilt for choice!
From my many trips to Lilicos I have a few favourites - I regularly came here for 'Tapas Tuesday' with my lovely friends Ruth and Bryony (before Ruth moved away, sob!) and I can't eat here without having the pan fried chorizo and beans - it is just divine! On my last trip, here's what I ate (in a large group, I might add, not all to myself!)
- Fresh locally baked bread
This was a delicious plate of warm bread, with the most amazing home made alioli dip and olive oil with balsamic vinegar. The bread was so yummy, I tried to save some to mop up the sauce in the other dishes but I ended up eating it all in one go, oops!
- Potato pieces dusted in paprika
A great twist on the potato wedge. The garlic dip is so delicious and this is great to have alongside any other dish.
- Pan fried chorizo with Spanish beans
The Holy Grail of tapas. This is my all time favourite, it is simply too delicious to put into words - everyone must try it!
- Cajun chicken
Another favourite of mine! Succulent chicken in a spicy coriander marinade, served with a mustard mayo. Perfect for something meaty with a bit of a kick.
- Char grilled sardines
I became a fan of these on holiday and enjoyed them a lot - they tasted really fresh, if a little bony! A nice sprinkling of sea salt made them extra tasty.
- Sashimi tuna
This was off of the specials boards and was delicious. The tuna just melted in my mouth and was amazing. I always try and go for something on the specials if I can - there is always so much choice and it's all so delicious!
And what impressed me the most out of all these dishes? The chef actually came out to my table before cooking to reassure me all of my food would be cooked separately. I have never experienced this before and was so impressed I almost didn't know what to say!
Lilicos also do an amazing selection of puddings. Last time I ordered one, they did a gluten free tiramasu which was absolute heaven on a plate! If you live nearby, coeliac or not, you have to try this restaurant. And if you don't, book a holiday to North Devon now!!