Gluten-Free in Bordeaux: BANANA Café

Banana Café is a 100% gluten-free café in Bordeaux, that serves sweet and savory food all day long.  The homemade lunch dishes and chocolate treats are made to taste any diet.  This eatery brings the international food trends to Bordeaux, whilst stays a local-hidden secret. It feels like a homely and cheerful lounge and is perfect to meet up friends, work or just chill.

interior Banana Café

The “real” blog post below, first comes my Diary of Visits to Banana Café

June 11th: I am travelling from Arcachon to Moliets Plage, and planned a 3h layover in Bordeaux to have breakfast at the specialty coffee shop Black List. However, on my way there, I get a glimpse of another amazing looking café: Banana Café.  The charming blue La Marzocco, flourishing green plants and a cheerful, open interior lure me in to check out their menu.  The vitrine is full of chocolate goodies in all dietary variations.  Below them are fresh and healthy lunch options to go.  Next I open the menu and spot five medicine lattes. Black List, Banana Café, Black List, Banana Café . . . ? Ok, I definitely have to make any possible detour to Bordeaux to enjoy Banana Cafe to its full extent.  Because despite all of this, I will stay with the plan and go to Black List. (which was also awesome 😉.

June 13th:  I’m coming back from Moliets Plage to Paris: the chance to go to Banana Café!  Indecisiveness as always – between 1. banana bread with homemade almond butter, 2. ewe milk yogurt with granola, or 3. one of the pancakes.  Ok, I’ll ask, as I always do, what she recommends. Pancakes with seasonal fruits it is! They are delicious – basic, but very well executed, fluffy, soft and with the right sweetness.

fluffy pancakes with fresh fruit
gluten-free chocolate cookie

When paying at the counter I just can’t resist but to take along a chocolate patisserie, and choose the cookie.  It first gets a photo session in the speeding SNCF to Paris. So the first bite is put off quite a bit, but once I have it I am speechless.  The cookie is gooey, rich, soft, but with a slight crunch outside and nomnomnom . . . At the same time I am trying not to get the soft, melted interior over my camera and phone.  // But whatever would have happened, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes an awesome home-baked goodie is all you need to make your day.  

August 8th: I am back in France, now at the beginning of my four months abroad and I can’t wait to go to Banana Café.  But they are closed!  // Now I know why:  The owners were busy on the coast, running Banana cafés’ predecessor, a food truck on the surfers coast.  A few days later I left to the coast as well, to volunteer at the Vegan Surf Camp. 

September 2nd: My surf season in Moliets Plage is over 3,5 weeks later, so I am obviously back in Bordeaux, but Banana Café is still closed! 🙁

September 24: I am back in Bordeaux after my first wwoofing farm. It is Sunday, 2pm and I’m off to get Lunch at Café Laiton (out of lunch), Munchies! (closed) ll Meneghino (closed), BANANA CAFÉ (only 23€ brunch menu or lunches to go), Personne n’est Parfait (closed), Cafe Piha (closed), Black List (closed), Horace (out of lunch), Le Monologue (closed). Wow, what a culture, that is Bordeaux!  So back to Banana Café, maybe a lunch “to go” isn’t so bad after all.  And no, it’s awesome!  Delicious and in a wonderful relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere. 

Protein Salad and Juice

Hmm, I still have a few hours to chill in Bordeaux before I meet my couch surfer. But with my 100kg duffel bag I don’t really want to move.  I’m definitely gonna try the mexican hot chocolate, and a dessert. I ask the pastry chef to help I decide between the raw brownie, vegan brownie, normal brownie, moelleux au chocolat, and chocolate cookie (that I know is damn good).  After maybe five minutes of patiently explaining me the chemical differences of them, I still can’t decide between the normal brownie and spongy chocolate cake (moelleux au chocolate).  So she offers me half-half of both!  – Both taste particular, with a light and nutty texture.  They are different from the usual chocolate pastry, but just as scrumptious. The moelleux au chocolate has a slight crunch on the outside and a tender center.  It is a bit more chocolatey than the brownie.  I like the juicy raisin side taste of the brownie though too.  It gives it the spongy moistness in a very unique way. And the mexican hot chocolate tastes just as piquant as the ones I had in Mexico, superb!

September 26:  Kelly and Thibault, the owning couple, are back from London so I get the chance to learn the background of Banana Café, and start this blog post with a mind-powering blue-spirulina latte and immunity energy ball.

spirulina latte and immunity ball

OWNERS: Kelly Banks and Thibault Outters

Kelly is originally from London and used to work in the music industry, like her parents. Thibault, a former engineer, is from Angoulême, the “BD festival town”, two hours north of Bordeaux.  They met in 2012.  Thibault was on his way to India for his job, Kelly decided to quit hers to come along. Then he did the same. He had enough working for an industry and wanted to do something independent.

Back in France Thibault’s surf-vacation home in Les Landes was slowly decaying in the forest. So after India, they decided to renovated it all by themselves, in the traditional way. The project took a bit longer than expected but after 1,5 years this traditional clay-mud-hay shack turned into charming little “Charlot home”, that is now a rentable vacation house.

They love good vibes, good music, good life, and good food.  So while renovating they decided to also open a food truck on Thibault’s surfing beach, Contis Plage. Out of the yellow VW, Le Cofrab, they still serve fresh burgers (local meat, veggie and vegan), salads, specialty coffee (from Piha), matcha latte and local soft drinks every summer.  However, eventually Kelly needed that city element back. Coming from London, she missed to live around a vibey café scene.

“. . . with great food, and good coffee at the same time, where you can just sit and do work for hours but also eat again and meet people, that kind of cultural element . . .” 

Additionally, they wanted to share their passion with people from a more cosmopolitan area, who might appreciate the food’s origin and quality more. So Kelly travelled between Melbourne, London and Berlin to study for this project and be able to do it properly.  She also had a short intense course on naturopathic medicine.  In February 2017 Banana Café opened.

gluten-free café in Bordeaux: Banana Café entrance

GLUTEN FREE – local, organic, flexitarian

Banana café doesn’t feel like just “one of those cafés” with various chocolate goodies and healthy lunches. Banana café is actually 100% gluten free, due to Kelly’s intolerance. For her it’s also not special that everything is either local or organic. She wouldn’t speak about this for hours, because it’s something that “should just be obvious, should just be normal”. They also decide to omit refined sugar here.

First I thought that the dishes were predominantly vegan, but they actually serve all diet preferences. Thus, friends from around the world, can happily eat here together.  The weekly vegan dish is their famous vegan corn wrap. Lentils with parsley, piment coulis and veggies are held together by the soft, homemade corn tortilla. The chef crafts different vegetarian, fish and meat dishes weekly, adapted to the seasons. However the animal products still aren’t served without thought.  On the menu you can read where they source them from.  One week it was: “Porc de La Ferme Vignal ” and “Tartare de Poisson de nos côtes au verge

For their spectacular selection of drinks you can choose between four different vegan milks. There is also dairy – however only ewe (baby sheep) dairy (in french: brebis). So the granola is served with brebis yogurt and a vegetarian polenta with brebis crème fraîche.

FOOD – all day long

Now when in the day does one eat here?  The gluten-free café in Bordeaux is open roughly from 10-18:00 (Sundays till 17:00) and serves food all day long.  This is a great plus if you decide to have lunch a bit later than the French.  After 2pm it’s a treasure hunt to find any service in Bordeaux.

Breakfast includes fresh fruity pancakes, superfood bread with homemade almond butter and soon also smoothie bowls. From noon till 3pm they serve warm, legit lunch dishes, like the French are used too.  But you can really come here at any time of the day and find sweet and savory snacks “sur place” or “à emporter”.

gluten-free vegan corn wrap
Before catching the train for a day trip to Arcachon bay, I grabbed my lunch to go from Banana Café.  In Arcachon, I rented a bike, rode to Dune du Pyla, walked through the sand, swam in the Atlantic and then couldn’t have had a more perfect lunch than this vegan corn wrap 😛

Every Sunday Kelly and Thibault also host a spectacular brunch till 5pm, with especial playlists curated by their DJ.  Last weeks menu included a fresh juice, specialty coffee, superfood bread with avocado pesto, hummus, and an egg or white beans, plus savory topped polenta pancakes with a salad.

DRINKS – specialty coffee, black magic latte, gluten-free beer

Banana Café La Marzocco

Their drink menu is spectacular.  Thibault is a “coffee freak” and they both did a barista training in Paris. So the espresso drinks can compete with Bordeaux’s specialty coffee scene, and their eye-catching La Marzocco might even win the competition of style. Kelly and Thibault customized it in various shades of blue at their local car garage. Their roasts come from Lomi in Paris, and occasionally from new and upcoming roasters in London, that Kelly picks up whenever she is there.  However Kelly is most into the medicine lattes.  The selection is better than I have seen anywhere in Europe: turmeric, coconut matcha, blue spirulina, charcoal, mexican hot chocolate.

“I love all of that, that’s kind of me. Cause I don’t always want to have a coffee but maybe I do want to have a latte and I also would like to think about putting something into my body that is good for me, that makes me happy . . . but also really having a nice kind of [feeling like] ‘oh you’re having a latte’. I love that, I think that’s really cool.” 

Blue Moon Spirulina Latte

Otherwise they have detox shots, fresh daily juices and smoothies that range from green-spinach-pea to peanut butter-protein. If you need a more sophisticated drink with your lunch, they also offer wine and gluten-free beer.

VIBE – unpretentious and homely

Banana Café’s first room shares the bar area, which is a jungle of pastries, jars of granola, -tea, -popcorn and some selected local business cards.  The room behind feels like an outside interior: old mosaic floors, massive beige “Pierre” stone walls and the light floods in from way above.

Banana Café has a vibe that makes you feel homely and welcomed, no matter how, when or with whom you come. I have only been here alone, but never felt the slightest bit uncomfortable.

Work on your laptop without being spied on. Take five minutes to decide what you order, till she offers you half-half of both (brownie & moelleux au chocolat).  Charge your phone halfway across the room.  Come sweaty in dirty farm clothes and a huge heavy duffel. Order too many sweets for one little person, who’s only sitting and working on this blog post for some hours.  Make food photo shootings at different tables.  

And if I wouldn’t have anything to do, I would definitely come here too, because there are stacks of inspiring recipe books and lifestyle magazines to read.

East London Food and Plants

Love  Music  Smiles

Kelly and Thibault have brought the international “trends” to local charming Bordeaux, in a very modest and cheerful manner.  Despite the medicine lattes and raw/vegan/gluten-free treats, this place is not a hyped trendy social media place.  It has the potential to be that one day, but at the moment this gluten-free café in Bordeaux stays a local hidden secret. The customers group is mixed, but never overflows the interior. This gluten-free café in Bordeaux is laid-back, has a soundcloud made by friends and DJs, and interior color splashes of blue and yellow.  Love | Music | Smiles is their motto, which is definitely fulfilled. The loving couple transmits smiles and a positive lifestyle through their food, playback, staff and interior.

Where? 5 Cours Pasteur, 33000 (2km from the train station, just off the plaza Pey Berland, with the cathedra;)

When? Tuesday-Saturday 10-18:00, Sunday 10-17:00, closed Monday

How Much? Flat White 4€, Medicine Lattes 5€, Smoothies 6€, Lunch 7,50€-13€, Pastries/Desserts 5,50€, Brunch 23€

Diets: gluten-free (100%), also vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, local, seasonal, organic

Other Info: free wi-fi, plentiful seating (only inside), great bathroom (even with Dr. Bronners hand lotion ;)), order at counter, great to-go options

Connect: instagram, their own soundcloud

My favorite: medicine lattes, chocolate cake and cookie, any lunch dishes

Thibault’s favorite: coffee, and the banana bread with homemade almond butter, banana, almonds, agave (Kelly’s recipe)

Kelly’s favorite: she loves all, but especially the medicine lattes

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