Anyone living in Luton or nearby or even in Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties should pay a visit to this fantastic hidden gem.
Jake’s Cafe is located at Woodside Animal Farm near Luton in Markyate so if you have kids there are loads of activities to occupy them as well as rare breeds and free range eggs and other produce for sale. It’s just off the A5 and the animal farm is signposted clearly.
Jake’s cafe is an independent cafe run by Louise who was diagnosed with coeliac disease 14 years ago so she understands totally the importance of avoiding cross contamination and sourcing quality guaranteed gluten free products.
It’s situated on the right hand side as you drive into Woodside Animal Farm and there is plenty of parking and place to lock your bike if you’re feeling energetic. You can take advantage of the great British summer on comfortable outdoor seating as well as shelter inside.
The cafe sells fruity but completely natural slush puppy drinks and loads of kids snacks available as well as the adult options with gluten free chips (dedicated fryer), hot dogs, sandwiches, breakfast options, wraps and toasties.
Or if you just need cake they have homemade gluten free cakes which are all covered kept safe from cross contamination and served with separate (green) tongs. At Jake’s it’s all colour coded. You get your food on a green plate if you ask for gluten or allergen free. The chopping boards and untensils are all green for the gluten free or freefrom food and it’s made in a separate section of the kitchen. There are also the usual individually wrapped flapjacks and biscuits if you’re not brave enough to try the homemade options.
The evil wheat and gluten paninis and sarnies are made on RED chopping boards on the other side of the cafe and everything is regularly cleaned down. The cafe needs its regular customers so has to serve both gluten containing and non gluten food to keep going although Louise said she is seeing more requests for gluten free every week. Considering the cafe has only been going a few months they’re not doing too badly.
Coconut milk latte – my first EVER latte
I went with my friend and had my very first ever-in-my-life milky latte made with coconut milk. It was pretty awesome. I have been missing out on latte all my life and looking over at my smug latte guzzling friends thinking, ‘humph, my black americano coffee is far healthier than yours and I prefer it this way, honest I do…NOT!’
If you order tea they have either mugs or large pots with really funky hand-knitted tea cosies which I think you can also buy in the shop.
We also both had toasties. My dairy free genius bread toastie (made in a proper toastie machine – such a treat) was made first before any other gluten free lunch toasties were cooked so the machine was totally clean. The cafe is spotless anyway and they clean all machines, utensils and boards between every dish prepared but this extra measure made me feel even more safe. I had bacon and onion gluten free and dairy free toastie and it was delicious.
I don’t know of any other cafe that I’ve ever been to with such a huge choice for the food challenged. I also felt normal, not like a freak or fussy herbert. All the staff were really clued up and asked if they weren’t sure about anything. Louise’s parents both help out in the cafe too. Every customer is important at Jake’s Cafe and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome.
The cafe is owned by Louise who also runs Simply Free, an online gluten free internet shop which sells a huge selection of products for coeliacs and many that are suitable for those with more than just one food group to avoid. She set up the online business originally when she realised how hard it was to find good quality and tasty gluten free food all in one place – it’s pretty much impossible. Simply Free also has a small shop on the same site so once you’ve enjoyed a gluten free cake, hot dog, toasted sandwich or chips (all prepared in equipment dedicated to gluten free only) you can visit the shop and stock up on gluten free cereals, pasta and so much more. The shop is quite small as the main focus is a warehouse for shipping internet orders but don’t be fooled by the empty shelves. Just ask at the desk if they have something in stock as there are far more interesting gluten free goodies hidden out the back.
Fancy a trip to Jake’s anyone?
So who’s coming with me then? Anyone else been there? What did you think? Wish it was nearer to where you live? It’s proof that even really small cafe’s can offer freefrom food safely if the take the time to organise their kitchen carefully, store all food safely and understand cross contamination.
A challenge to all independent cafe’s out there – can you learn from Jake’s and cater for the allergy and coeliac dollar? It’s growing and fast so make sure you get some of it.