For a Brit, visiting our 'cousins across the pond' would on the face of it seem one of the easier trips to make if looking for gluten free food. However, in a strange place it is often hard to find somewhere but rest assured, someone will have been there before.
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Ogden, Utah (UT) View On Map
I had a date night last Thursday with my husband. For dinner we went to a restaurant that was recommended to us and I'm glad we did. Before we even went I was feeling good about it because of what I saw on the first page on their website. Yep, "Gluten Free Menu" right there on the front page! Plus it's a full page of delicious gluten free options. Yay!
So with all of that I was already liking the place and then we went and I was even more impressed. The atmosphere is awesome! There are beautiful koi ponds and waterfalls all over. I loved it! We ate inside, but apparently the outdoor patio is really neat as well.
Our server was really nice and good at his job. If you go there and Jason is your server, you'll know you're in good hands. He kept our chips, salsa, and drinks full. And even better than that he knew what he was talking about when it came to gluten free!!!
I asked him if I could get a gluten free menu and he immediately brought one out for me and then let me know that the chips were gluten free, but that they were fried in the same oil as gluten-filled items, so he could get me some fully gluten free chips that weren't fried. And he knew all of this immediately without having to go ask a supervisor! You know you're in good hands at a restaurant when the servers have been trained about gluten free and cross-contamination.
I got the carnita fajitas and it was yummy, as was the salsa. It was a very pleasant dinner. And to finish it off, our receipt specifically said "gluten free fajita" on it. I loved that. It made me feel like they really know what they're doing and they weren't going to mess up and cross-contaminate the gluten free items because they categorized them separately.
I highly recommend Bella's for a gluten free dining option. It's a great family business that supports the community.
Uno Chicago Grill
The menu at "The Beach Club", which indicates gluten free options with a "GF". I had the chicken skewer lettuce wraps. I wanted to order room service for lunch and didn't see anything gluten free on the room service menu. Then I spoke to the girl at the room service number who said they could do ANY OF THEIR SANDWICHES on gluten free bread. What a dream. I had a reuben... Also, I was concerned about the fries not being deep fryed in a dedicated fryer... so she asked the kitchen to heat up some new oil for my fries. Heaven.
Breakfast continues to be every coeliac's biggest challenge when on the road. The Breakers always had a variety of fruit and yogurts for me... and I noticed this morning that the Odwalla juice I had is actually labelled gluten free. Awesome!
In downtown DC, Jaleo is a Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant. I heard their menu noted gluten free and dairy free choices so I was excited to go.
Before we went I downloaded their menu so I could review it and have an idea of what they served. I looked for items that I thought would be gluten free and sounded good to me. When we arrived I asked for the gluten free and dairy free menu. They brought out two menus. One with the gluten free items and the other with the dairy free items. I'm not sure why they couldn't make these notes on one menu.
So I took the menu I had downloaded, printed and brought with me and started making notes. I marked which items were gluten free and which were dairy free. When one had both, I circled it. Now I could see what my choices really were. I picked Shrimp with Garlic, Spanish Omelet with Potatoes and Onions and a Homemade Pork Sausage with sauteed White Beans.
When the Shrimp arrived it looked like and smelled like they had used butter. I asked and was assured there was no butter. Well it didn't have butter but it tasted like it. The combination of oils and brandy made it taste like butter. I could have eaten 4 more plates of that. Scott ordered the Mushrooms with Garlic. They were to die for. I couldn't get enough and kept stealing his meal.
So this restaurant was a big hit and I can't wait to go back. Their menu has 67 items. It is full of vegetables, seafood, meats, and vegetables. Some are gluten free, some are dairy free and some are both. There are more Jaleo restaurants in Bethesda and Crystal City.
Jaleo is under the direction of Chef Jose Andres and the Jose Andres Think Food Group. They also own Cafe Atlantico, minibar by Jose Andres, Zaytinya, and Oyamel. We've been to eat at Cafe Atlantico and it was spectacular. I can't wait to try out the rest of his offerings.
Some time later I spoke with a server named Stephen and asked if they prepared any gluten free dishes from the regular menu. WOW, Stephen first told me that they have a family of five with Celiac Disease as regular customers and then proceeded to go over the dinner menu with me in detail. I have never felt so confortable listening to menu options being explained. Stephen went into detail about each dish and how it is prepared. When he explained that their fryer has and will never be used with a gluten containing ingredients and how they use corn crumbs etc. as a rule I was very impressed. Stephen then offered to have the chief prepare something for me special. I declined and then Stephen offered to bring me a gluten free dessert, which I accepted and enjoyed. I had to fight off other people sitting at my table from devouring it.
I decided to take my wife to Matisse for her birthday dinner. Upon our arrival Stephen remembered me and again went over the entire menu with me. Stephen knowledge of what someone with Coeliac Disease can and can't have was impressive to say the least. I had Crispy Shrimp with Orange-Radish Dipping Sauce for and appetizer. For my entrée I had Cast Iron Skillet Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops. I was in heaven and the sauces were spectacular. I was to full to order dessert. It has been a few weeks since my experience and I am looking forward to returning to Matisse next week. One last thing, remember to bring a bottle of your favorite wine. Matisse is BYOB.
Buffalo Bump Pizza
The decor is charming, old-world style and the service was fantastic. I sat in the back room under a skylight with the kitchen and authentic revolving pizza oven right next to me. It was great to watch the kitchen prepare their delicious meals. There is a lovely bar up front, which you might have to wait at if you don't make a reservation. This place was hoppin' on Friday night. Large wooden tables and great decor all around. It has a very family-friendly vibe and reminded me of being in Italy.
My partner and I started with the GF rice balls: creamy and crunchy and filled with mascarpone, prosciutto, and fontina. Scrumptious! And we had a fresh, colorful salad with tiny beets, frisée, and radicchio. Heaven.
We followed up with an authentic, thin crust GF pizza with fresh mozzarella and sausage. It was easy to split this generous portion, and hard to not eat the whole pie! Crunchy, crispy and fresh. The tomato sauce is delicious. And the best part was that the slices could be eaten like REAL pizza ... with your hands. They have many pizza selections and you can even create your own with their list of additions: pepperoni, meatballs, sopressata, eggplant, broccoli rabe, mushrooms, etc.
But we didn't stop there, we followed that up with a hefty serving of GF Chicken Parmigiano which was served with a nice portion of al dente GF pasta. Again, the fresh basil and tomato sauce was to die for. And the chicken parm was outstanding. Large portion, smothered in baked cheese, with a faboo bread crumb coating.
Finally, we finished off our meal with a decadent GF chocolate cake, baked and served in an iron skillet, topped with fresh fruit and ice cream. OMG.
Top Of The Hub
Lunch is surprisingly reasonable. The three-course prix fixe menu is $22 and most lunch items are under $20 dollars. When my boss suggested lunch there, at first I was concerned. I had heard the Top of the Hub was more about the view and less about the food, so I was worried they were overcharging for heavily processed food, but Top of the Hub produces palate-pleasing dishes. I wouldn't call the prix fixe menu adventurous, but the quality food is well-executed.
We had noted my food allergy in the reservation request via Opentable.com. Soon after we were seated, the waiter came by to confirm my food allergy. He was able to confirm which items on the prix fixe menu were gluten-free and which could not be changed.
I started with a romaine wedge salad. Instead of iceberg lettuce, they used romaine. I liked that the salad was not swimming in dressing. There was a healthy drizzle of creamy peppercorn dressing, which went well with the tomatoes, onion and crispy bacon. The other option was a soup of the day, so it will be luck of the draw as to whether the soup is ok on a given day.
The chicken and pasta entrées on the prix fixe menu cannot be made gluten-free, but the salmon with wild rice pilaf and a little cream sauce is gluten-free. The salmon was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The rice pilaf was made up of basmati, wild rice and brown rice. It was tasty, but some of the types of rice were more al dente than others. I think they cooked them in the same pot, but wild rice and brown rice require different cooking than basmati rice, so that didn't work out perfectly. Anyway, pilaf was made more interesting by the addition of dried cranberries. Anything that includes cranberries has my attention.
I was surprised to find that both desserts on offer that day were gluten-free: a chocolate panna cotta and a crème brulee. I tried the crème brulee with seasonal berries. The top of the crème brulee was well caramelized, but a single berry does not a seasonal berry assortment make. Those berries would have really helped this dish because the crème brulee was bland. It could have used some almond or orange extract, something to add depth to the creaminess.
Prior to being diagnosed, I spent countless hours eating Italian food, good bad and mediocre because Italian restaurants are everywhere to be found and easily taken for granted. Since switching to a gluten free diet, I've approached Italian restaurants with caution because it seems that it's generally unlikely that I'll be able to make a meal out of the items of the menu unless I'm in the mood for salad while my dining companions eat pasta/pizza. To be sure, with the increase in the number of Italian chain restaurants offering gluten free menus, options for gluten free Italian dining are not as limited as they have been in the past. However, eating Italian food from a family owned restaurant on a gluten free diet is often challenging.
After learning that Greenbush Bar offers gluten free pastas and pizzas, I was excited to eat there. Memories of rich ragus with freshly made pastas from my pre-diagnosis days in New York City came to mind as we were seated and I got a whiff of what the kitchen had to offer.
This past Friday was my first visit there and as I looked at the menu, I was torn between ordering one of their pasta dishes or a pizza. The smell of the pizzas on the tables of the other guests and the gusto with which they were eating convinced me to try one of their gluten free pizzas. At Greenbush, the pizza comes with sauce and cheese and the toppings are ordered individually. After much deliberation, I ended up ordered the gluten free pizza with sausage, artichokes and feta and a glass of wine.
First I will say that the toppings were delicious. All three toppings together were a bit much and the pie would probably have been better with just two, but that was my own doing and something I'll keep in mind if I return. The bottom of the brick oven crust was deliciously crispy. However, somewhere between the crispy bottom of the crust and the toppings, the pizza did not meet expectations. I'm not sure whether the pizza was underdone or whether the ratios of the flours used were not appropriate but the crust had an unpleasant consistency that stuck to my teeth and was not enjoyable. Overall, I give this pizza a "B."
I may yet give Greenbush another try, probably ordering one of their pasta dishes, or another pizza with fewer toppings and requesting some extra time in the oven because if they were able to solve the crust issue, this could potentially be a great gluten free dining option. Hopefully you have some delicious Italian food in your future! Enjoy!
I ordered a cup of the Roasted Tomato and Red Lentil soup, and the Vegetarian Grape Leaves, and let me tell you - it was divine. So fresh, so tasty, and the spices were awesome! I wasn't sure that I would like Middle-Eastern cuisine, but I'm definitely going back. It was great to just sit and let all my senses just absorb the spices and flavors. Our very helpful server also told us that all of the sandwiches can be made gluten-free by being served over rice or salad, if I would like to do that in the future. How cool is that?!
Though I sometimes struggle with all my food issues, it does mean that I appreciate the really good food that I do eat. It makes it worth it. It's also so nice to mention gluten-free and vegan (though I plan to try a lamb dish there at some point) and not have to launch into "the" explanation to a confused-looking server.
If you're willing to try something you've never had before and want a great experience, go to Mazza. Give it a chance. You won't regret it.
Ecco serves seasonal cuisine with a European flair. Influences of the Mediterranean, Italy and Spain can all be seen on their menu. Headed by Chef Micah Willix, Ecco's menu rotates regularly, implementing the best flavors of each season with a focus on house made ingredients, and even house grown on their roof top garden. Some of my favorite dishes here are the risottos. Since the dishes change often, each time I go it's different, but any risotto they make is an instant favorite. I've had many variations and they never disappoint. Ecco also makes me favorite mussels, ever. They're served in a rich and creamy romesco broth and always perfectly cooked. And while I used to think that I disliked lamb, Ecco is the only place I will choose this dish.
If you're feeling like a glass of wine and some small plates, I enthusiastically recommend the cured meats & cheese selections. They generally have Speck on hand, a smoked proscuitto that's out of this world. I like it paired with Cana de Oveja, a soft sheep's milk cheese from Spain.
Full yet? Should you have saved any room for dessert, Ecco's house-made ice creams are incredible. I've tasted them all between my many meals here, and while you can't really go wrong, I keep coming back to the chocolate roasted orange. It reminds me of those orange flavored chocolate candies that came in the orange tin foil wrapper I used to get for Christmas.
While Ecco serves many gluten and non gluten filled selections, the staff is always incredibly helpful with their recommendations and takes great care to avoid cross-contamination. I've never had anything but excellence at Ecco, and I highly recommend it for gluten free diners