The Woodmans Arms: a free-from dream!

There is certainly no shortage of reviews online about The Woodmans Arms in Gateshead, and I now know why. What a place!

The Woodmans Arms is located in the hills of Whickham, which is a suburb of Gateshead, just across the river from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As we got close to it, the sat nav said we were 200m away, but we couldn’t see it. Beware: it’s the sort of place that you’d drive past without noticing, and I think that’s part of what makes this such a gem.

We haven’t yet been to The Woodmans Arms on a sunny day to try out its amazing outdoor seating area, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be returning soon to give that a go! Inside, there are 2 distinct areas: the bar area and the restaurant area. However, the way that it’s all laid out with little booths in nooks and crannies means that it never seems too busy, which is a definite plus in my eyes.

When we go out for a meal as a family, we have to ask lots of questions. You see, I’m gluten-free and Zak is being tested for a range of allergies and intolerances meaning that he currently can’t have any dairy, soya, runny egg, kiwi or carrot. In many places, this causes a bit of a headache for us and the waiting staff who either aren’t sure about the ingredients in dishes or who just make stuff up (we recently went to a restaurant that assured us they could make a dairy-free Sunday lunch for Zak and then proceeded to bring out a Yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese for him…!).

But this is most definitely not the case at The Woodmans Arms.

We asked if the batter for the fish is dairy-free and this was double-checked with the kitchen before confirming that it was. Now, in lots of places this would be the end of the conversation, but at The Woodmans Arms, they were very proactive in asking if there were any allergies and noted this down. As the parent of a child with allergies, I can’t tell you how reassured this makes me feel.

The menu is really varied and there is lots of choice. I haven’t shared pictures of the full menu here as it is continually updated, but there’s a link at the bottom of this post to view the menu at The Woodmans Arms.

Here’s what we ordered for our main courses:

Zak: small fish, peas and fries
Me and Laura: a gluten-free meat feast pizza, a gluten-free chicken and garlic pizza and a portion of chips.

Wow. The pizzas were amazing. They were perfectly cooked in the log fire pizza oven and were served on chopping boards. What I really liked was that despite the bases being gluten-free, they weren’t squeaky or tough, as many gluten-free bases are. I don’t know how they did it, but they tasted just like “normal” pizza!

Zak’s “small” fish was huge! However, as we have produced some sort of food monster, he ate the whole thing and would probably have eaten it all over again if we let him!

What I really liked about the children’s menu at The Woodmans Arms is that it wasn’t just cheap sausages or chicken nuggets with chips. They gave Zak the same quality of food that we had. Unusually for a children’s menu, they can do a smaller version of the ‘curry of the day.’ Zak absolutely loves curry, but the special when we visited was rogan josh and wasn’t dairy-free. The curry changes on a daily basis, though, so fingers crossed he’ll be able to have curry next time!

After our pizzas, we were absolutely stuffed. But one glance at the dessert menu meant that we had to find some space for another course. Zak was happily munching away on some raisins that I produced from his bag, so Laura ordered sticky toffee pudding with custard and I ordered the rocky road cheesecake, but swapped the rum and raisin ice-cream for white chocolate ice-cream.

Although the sticky toffee pudding is full of gluten, all the cheesecakes at The Woodmans Arms are gluten-free. It is such a breath of fresh air to go out and be able to have a choice of desserts, rather than being limited to the usual gluten-free brownie and ice-cream.

And yes, the cheesecake tasted just as good as it looks.

What a meal! All of this, plus four glasses of Diet Pepsi came to just under £50, which we thought was very reasonable for the quality of food we had. The Woodmans Arms is perfect for families with dietary requirements and we can’t wait to go back soon for another free-from feast. As you can see below, Zak’s very excited about our next visit!

You can find out more about The Woodmans Arms and read the full menu on their website.

The Woodmans Arms, Fellside Road, Wickham. NE16 5BB.

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