Friday, December 17, 2010

Things: Installment 59

For the last month or so, there hasn't been much cooking going on at my house. You know what that means?! Yep, we've been eating out. This issue of Things is focusing on all of the wonderful mainstream gluten-free dining options out there and most specifically the restaurants that I've patronized.

Things on the Gluten-Free Menu
  • Maggiano's has made a number of revisions to their menu to accomodate everyone requiring gluten-free options. EVERY sauce on their menu is gluten-free as Maggiano's has chosen to substitute rice flour for the traditional flours they were using. At this time, you have two choices for pasta: rigatoni or fettuccini. When I was there most recently, I had the chicken scallopini over rigatoni, and it did not disappoint. I was a little disappointed, however, that they don't offer gluten-free ravioli or gnocchi. But you know, I decided that those options will come in time as more of us begin venturing out to eat at mainstream restaurants. I'm exceedingly grateful to Maggiano's for adapting their entire menu to accomodate those with gluten sensitivities!
  • PF Chang's has an entire section of their menu devoted to gluten-free selections and it's quite extensive. I actually got to sample several of these items at the gluten-free expo that I attended in Grapevine back in September. Until recently, I hadn't had the time to actually GO to PF Chang's and try the dining experience. I must say, it did NOT disappoint. I had the spicy chicken and it was very good. It's light and especially good with the extra-spicy condiments that PF Chang's is so famous for. The waitress was also very knowledgable and kept all of the gluten-free food and condiments (yes, they have gluten-free soy sauce!) separate. Unfortunately, I was too full to have dessert, but I know that it's absolutely divine b/c I had a NUMBER of samples at the expo. *grin* So definitely be sure you save room for that heavenly chocolate mousse, even if you're not gluten free!
  • Cosa Nostra is my absolute favorite local Italian joint that I have spoken about many times here on the ol' blog. It's a family-run business, and I just happen to know the family. Great people! And even better food!! After finding out that I have gluten sensitivities, I had not been to eat there even though Denisio promised that he could accomodate me. We finally got around to going this week, and Denisio got onto me for not coming in sooner. Apparently, there are a number of faithful patrons who are gluten free and he had already made some adjustments to menu items. My favorite menu items are actually naturally gluten free; they just needed a pasta substitution. The only hitch is that you must provide your own pasta (which they, of course, cook separately to avoid cross-contamination). But you know, that's a small price to pay for TO DIE FOR authentic Italian food! Thanks, Denisio - you rock!!
  • Pei Wei also has adapted several of its menu items to make them gluten-free, though it's not nearly as extensive as PF Chang's. I took some time off work this week so I could get my Christmas shopping done in the middle of the day and avoid some of the crowds and decided to give lunch at Pei Wei a whirl after picking up their gluten-free menu at the Grapevine expo. I had the spicy chicken and it was just as light as the dish at PF Chang's. Pei Wei also provides patrons with gluten-free soy sauce. And if you happen to have any food left to take home, they send you home with gluten-free soy sauce packets! (Gotta love San-J for coming up with that idea! Brilliant!) So if you're looking for good Asian food on-the-run, then Pei Wei certainly fits the bill.
  • Jason's Deli launched its gluten-free menu offerings over the summer. I have not tried it myself, but my mom has and was very pleased. They use Udi's gluten-free bread to build your sandwich. (And for those of you who don't know, it really is the best bread on the widespread market if you're looking for something that is close to the "real" thing.) The staff is all supposed to be trained about cross-contamination, and thus far, my mom hasn't had any issues. One day soon, I'll get in there to get me a sammich b/c I LOVE their sweet tea!
  • TGI Friday's recently announced that they have revamped their menu to include allergen alerts next to all of their menu items so that common allergens are identified, including wheat, soy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, to name a few. (Read the press release here) I'll have to pop in there soon and check out the new menu.
  • The Screen Door located in the One Arts Plaza is able to accomodate people with food allergies. I dined there recently with a friend before we went to the opera. When I placed our reservation on Open Table, I made a notation about requiring gluten-free. As soon as we checked in with the hostess, she asked about the person needing gluten-free and told me that she had alerted the waiter. It was definitely smooth sailing and the food was delicious. I had steak with bernaise sauce and mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Yummo! Two thumbs up all around!
  • Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse in Oklahoma City also has an extensive gluten-free menu. We visited friends over Thanksgiving and went to dinner at Mickey Mantle's on Friday night. It's very reminiscent of one of our favorite steakhouses here in Dallas - Morton's of Chicago (who has also told us that they can easily accomodate gluten-free diners). I was surprised when I mentioned to the waitress that I was gluten-free that she took my menu and brought me a new one that not only told me what I could have but also told me the things I could not. Sometimes it's helpful to know that things on the menu that SEEM harmless by description really aren't! The steak was cooked to perfection, as was everything else. If you ever find yourself in OKC, you should definitely eat at Mickey Mantle's.
There are many more restaurants joining in the gluten-free movement. And those of us who require these special menu items should do our part by patronizing the restaurants who test out these menus. If we don't, we are likely to lose the number of mainstream restaurant choices we now have, putting us back another 5-10 years. And who wants that?!


Tess said...

What a helpful post! Can't remember if I told you that I've been avoiding gluten as well. After some experimentation, it DEFINITELY does not agree with me. FYI, Chilis has a gluten-free menu as well.

Where is Cosa Nostra?

Susan said...

I know what you mean! I had NO idea how much it was affecting me until I cut it out.

Cosa Nostra is in Rowlett. Definitely worth the drive if you're up for authentic. It's in the Albertson's shopping center on the NW corner of Dalrock and Lakeview Pkwy (Hwy 66).

Anonymous said...

I can also tell you places that don't have a clue what gluten free means--Rain Forest Cafe in the galleria in Houston. They do not have a gluten free menu and due to liability would not even recommend or discuss what I could eat. thank you, but I'll go eat at Chili's where they have joined the 21st century and aren't afraid of being sued.
Jason's Deli is the BOMB!!

Susan said...

and just in case you haven't heard, Subway has added gluten-free options here in the DFW area as part of a test market for nationwide distribution. the Subway by my office participates, and I had an excellent experience. I plan to write about my experience in a future post but thought I would attach a comment to this one. word to the wise: the delectably delicious brownie....350 calories! ouch! but worth it! *wink*