lib hound musselOn a recent rainy Saturday we decided to check out the Liberty Hound, a relatively new addition to the growing Canalside neighborhood. The restaurant shares a building with the naval museum, so it’s a little confusing to find the entrance. The restaurant was smaller than we expected, with maybe 12 tables inside. There is also an outdoor patio which was not usable on the cold and rainy evening we visited. The restaurant has a quaint and cozy feel and there is some view of the canal as well as big ships. The menu is on the small side, with an emphasis on seafood. There are nightly specials as well. They do not have a separate gluten free menu but our waitress assured us almost everything could be made GF and she also told us that “the guys in the kitchen are totally on top of gluten-free.”

We started with the Liberty Mussels. They are cooked in a broth that uses beer, but the waitress said they would be made with gluten-free beer for us. They arrived and smelled wonderful. The menu said they were made with bacon and there was plenty of it. We did not see any of the sweet onions or bleu cheese the menu said was included in the dish. It could be that the bleu cheese was left out since some people believe it contains trace amounts of gluten. The mussels were fresh and tasty and we loved the hunks of bacon lib hound burger2that joined them.

For our main course, the husband ordered the Bistro Burger without a bun. The menu promised brie, caramelized onions and dijonnaise. The only item that appeared was the brie. This was a little disappointing, but we got over it since the sirloin burger was truly magnificent. It had a crunchy outer and a tender, flavorful center. It came with fries which we enjoyed.

I ordered the Lobster Cobb Salad which was beautiful. There was plenty of lobster, a sliced hard-boiled egg, cucumber, onion, bacon and avocado on a bed of different lettuces. It was served with a too small little dish of creamy tarragon dressing. The salad definitely needed more dressing. Everything in the salad was fresh and wonderful though.

We loved our food, despite the missing elements. Now for the bad news. I am afraid I may have been glutened. I’m not sure how though. The husband had no effects at all, so if it had been the mussels (real beer instead of GF maybe?) he would have felt it too.We both ate the fries.  The only item I can imagine is the salad dressing, since he had just one bite of salad. I did not ask if it was made in-house and assumed it was. I also assumed that it was GF since we had been very clear about our needs. I have some questions about the chef’s knowledge lib hound saladof gluten because the waitress told us we could order a salmon and couscous dish on the menu since the chef told her there was no gluten in the couscous. Couscous is always made from wheat. I don’t know if that was her misunderstanding or there is a lack of knowledge in the kitchen.

I would go back and give this another shot since the food was just so good and we enjoyed seeing a part of the city we don’t usually visit.

Edamame

Edamame

I’m generally suspicious of Asian restaurants when it comes to gluten. There are so many landmines to navigate. Do you have gluten-free soy sauce? Does your sushi rice have

Seafood Soba

Seafood Soba

gluten? And there is the issue as to whether they use any bottled sauces (like teriyaki or oyster sauce) which also could have gluten or if regular soy sauce is used when cooking a dish. Then sometimes there is a language barrier that can make it harder to be clear. I usually stick with PF Chang’s, a national chain, and our local Wok and Roll, which both have designated GF menus.  Recently we decided to expand our horizons, so we called Fuji Grill on Maple Road in Williamsville to ask if their sushi is gluten free and if they have gluten free soy sauce. The answer was yes to both, and they promised that almost everything could be made gluten free.

The menu is a nice mix of sushi, soups, salads, entrees, noodles, and fried rice. We started with edamame which was fresh

Dream Roll

Dream Roll

and

Queen roll

Queen roll

delicious. We all shared a sobu noodle stir fry with seafood. I quizzed the waitress to be certain the noodles were 100% buckwheat. It only occurred to me after we had left the restaurant that one ingredient in the stir fry appeared to be imitation crab, which can contain gluten. No one pointed this out, and honestly I don’t know why anyone uses imitation crab anymore so I didn’t expect it. If it did contain gluten, it did not make us sick, so my guess is it did not have gluten. I will need to try to anticipate imitation crab being used in seafood dishes in the future.

Mochi

Mochi

We then ordered three types of sushi: angry birds (which our daughter got  – it was not GF), queen roll and dream roll (which included spicy crab). All were good, however the queen roll (smoked salmon and avocado) had no rice: it was wrapped in cucumber, which was not made clear on the menu. The fish was fresh and we were brought a bottle of GF soy sauce to use.

For dessert we had mochi – little balls of flavored ice cream covered in a chewy coating made of rice, in vanilla, green tea, strawberry and mango flavors. They were little bursts of creamy flavor and very good, but a tad difficult to eat.

We would go back to the Fuji Grill without hesitation.

Spring rolls

Spring rolls

We decided to check out Seasons 52 in Naples, FL on a recent trip. I was not aware it was a chain before we went and if I had known that, I would not have selected it. That being said, the food was acceptable. It was quite difficult to get a reservation and the place was packed. We sat in a large booth. A huge menu was handed out. When we asked about gluten free options, the menu was whisked away and we were handed a tiny menu the size of half  a piece of paper with only a few items on it. This was disappointing to us. I started with lobster and shrimp spring rolls. This was the best dish of the night. It came with 3

Sushi

Sushi

dipping sauces: lemongrass, salsa verde and a sweet chili sauce. All three were wonderful. I would get this again and would probably order two of them with some side order and call it dinner. The husband enjoyed tuna sushi, with gluten free soy sauce. It was fresh and enjoyable. My entree was grilled trout. And that’s all it was. There was a tiny dish with a tbsp of an overly thick lemon cream

Trout

Trout

sauce but not enough to flavor the entire fish. It also came with carrots and some plain potatoes. Everything needed seasoning and sauce. My husband ordered the lemongrass salmon. It was listed as an entree on the GF menu but apparently was a salad. There was a small piece of burned fish with a big plate of greens with some mango and pineapple mixed in. This was better than the trout, but didn’t feel like a meal. We likely wouldn’t go back to this restaurant unless we were in a pinch, looking for something

Salmon

Salmon

we could trust to be GF.

Ok, not really, but Ireland is a gluten-free paradise in many ways. Many Irish are “coeliac” so gluten free food is simply everywhere. Check out where we ate in Dublin and how wonderful it truly was in this post. 

Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs

A recent visit to Naples meant a new search for gluten-free dining. Naples is slowly catching on to the need for GF food at last. We had a wonderful meal at The Hobnob, on 5th Avenue South, one night. We were thrilled to see a menu with items clearly marked GF (a rarity in this neck of the woods), but there were a few hiccups. While the app and entree items on the menu are marked, the sides are not. We asked and were told they were all GF. Another glitch was the grouper and chips was marked GF yet said it came with malt vinegar, which is never GF. We asked and after checking with the kitchen were told there was no malt vinegar in the dish and the menu had been revised after printing.

There was no GF bread service, so we watched our companions enjoying corn muffins. My husband started with fresh oysters which he enjoyed immensely. He sampled a variety from around the country and pronounced them all fresh and wonderful. I started with deviled eggs, something I’ve made many times at home but never had at a restaurant.  They had big hunks of bacon and tomato jam – I could have eaten a dozen more. The flavors popped.

Grouper and Chips

Grouper and Chips

We both enjoyed the grouper and chips for our entrees – finding GF grouper and chips is so rare we both had to get it. The grouper is cornmeal coated and fried crisp. The fries were crisp and perfect. The tartar sauce was creamy and a nice contrast to the fish. I would have liked to see a piece of fish just a smidge bigger.

We ordered two side orders of vegetables for the table since our entrees included NONE. Garlicky spinach and roasted vegetables were both done nicely.

There was no GF dessert other than ice cream and flourless chocolate cake. This is a HUGE gripe with me! You can manage to create a menu with some actual choices, yet you just give up on dessert? There is a well-known GF baker in Naples restaurants could order from if they don’t wish to make their own.

My other note is that the waitress gave me attitude about my GF questions. If your menu specifically lists GF, then you must be prepared to cater to those diners and answer their questions. My question about the malt vinegar was an annoyance as well as my query about whether the side were GF. A friendlier and more supportive attitude would have been appreciated.

This restaurant is quite loud, so be prepared to shout.

The other diners at our table enjoyed their food as well, so we would definitely go back when in the area.

Quinoa cakes

Quinoa cakes

I’ve been trying to eat at Betty’s for years. They take reservations for dinner, but not for brunch. We never seem to be able to remember that and when we have called for reservations in the past, they’ve never had availability. We’ve tried to walk in twice in the past two years and were never able to get a table. Finally the stars aligned and we arrived at 5:15 on a Saturday without a reservation and they had just one table available. It was a small one by the bar but it ended up being perfect – quiet, comfortable and by the window and with a heater next to our feet.

Bread

Bread

Just what the doctor ordered on a cold night.

Betty’s has some items marked gluten free on the menu but the specials list was unmarked. We inquired and our server had to go ask and return with what was GF. We started with Betty’s amazing homemade sweetened iced tea which is the best we’ve ever had- fruity, not too sweet, and full of flavor. We shared a special – smoky quinoa cakes with arugula and beet sauce. They were excellent – slightly crisp and indeed a bit smoky, nicely complemented by the arugula and beet sauce.

Sole

Sole

Betty’s offers GF bread service for an additional $1.75 so we went for it and totally enjoyed the warm, small loaf of bread with herbed oil to dip in. We would have eaten more had the food not been so good!

Our entrees came with soup or salad and we chose Caesar, no croutons. It was nicely done.

My entree was sole stuffed with saffron risotto and served with a cream sauce and asparagus. 4 filets of sole came with a moist rice stuffing. The

Short ribs

Short ribs

sauce was heavenly. A wonderful dish. The husband ordered short ribs braised in red wine and served with winter greens – in this case, collard greens- and mashed celeriac and potato (I didn’t taste any celeriac in this though even though that is what the menu said). The meat was falling off the bone and the greens were perfectly cooked. The only thing wanting was perhaps some sauce – there was virtually none.

We were THRILLED to be offered something other than ice cream and flourless chocolate cake so we pounced on a tart made with a peanut butter cookie crust filled with chocolate and studded with peanut butter cups and served with chocolate whipped cream. To. Die. For.

Pie

Pie

We would go back in a heartbeat. Next time I’d love to go for brunch. I expect that their menu changes with the seasons so we will definitely be back in the spring. This was possibly the best gluten free dinner we’ve had in Buffalo. Highly recommended.

Salad

Salad

Afternoon tea is one of my most favorite things in the whole world. However, just about every item included is a hotbed of gluten. I thought I would never have another one that I didn’t make myself. Until now! The White Linen Tea House in Wheatfield, NY serves a gluten free afternoon tea. Not only do they serve one, but it was spectacular.

We made reservations, although there were some free tables, so it might not be 100% necessary. The tea house is situated next to a huge antique barn and another shop, so you can not only have tea, but you can shop. The tea house itself sells a few gift items as well.

I went with a friend on a recent Saturday. They open at 11 and we arrived at 11:30. The tea house is a

Three Tiered Afternoon Tea

Three Tiered Afternoon Tea

former farmhouse with several small rooms with tables. The decor is beautiful. The room we were in had a mantel that was decorated, a bench made out of an old iron bed head board, a wall of antique portraits, and a glass case filled with antique porcelain hands. Elegant, fun, and girly.

I ordered the gluten free tea for $29.99 which includes a salad, 4 crustless sandwiches, 2 scones with clotted cream and 4 little desserts as well as a pot of tea of your choice (and there are pages and pages of choices). My friend had the regular tea for $25.99 which came with the regular versions of everything I had. Her scones were a tad bigger, as were her desserts, but I have no complaints. Our server was kind enough to point out to me the description on the menu of exactly what would be included in my tea and told me to let her know if there were any other food items in it that I could not eat. She also asked me if I was celiac or intolerant, so it is clear there is a lot of thought and care put into this.

The tables have timers on them so you know when your tea is properly steeped. We were served with a rose patterned china. Our pots of tea came first and we enjoyed sipping our tea. Next up was salad. Mine was a lovely mixed green salad with sliced strawberries and dried cranberries and fruity vinaigrette.

I nearly fell off my chair when my three-tiered main course arrived. I started with the crust-less sandwiches. The gluten-free bread was excellent – not any store bought brand I know. It was fluffy and appeared homemade. My sandwiches were egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and cucumber-dill with cream cheese. The sandwiches were all fresh and delicious. The egg salad had pickles in it which I loved. The tray also contained some small pieces of melon, pineapple, and grapes for color, but I ate those as well.

Next I enjoyed my scones. One was cinnamon and I think the other was cranberry. Both were flaky and tender and the clotted cream was fabulous. My desserts included a lemon bar, cheesecake bar, chocolate chip cookie and chocolate mousse bar. I ended up taking home about half of what was on my tiered platter and it was my lunch the next day, so that makes the price much more palatable.

Our server was friendly and attentive and also did not hurry us when it was clear were intended to take our time nibbling and chatting. It was very relaxed and comfortable.

This was the PERFECT gluten-free outing and made me feel wonderful – cared for, well-fed, and understood. I had no gluten fear. I highly recommend this. I am going to make this a regular yearly event with my friend, who also enjoyed her regular version of the afternoon tea.

Duffs1The old fashioned take on the best wings in Buffalo is the Anchor Bar. However, the new consensus is Duff’s. When President Obama came to town, he stopped here.  Duff’s fries their wings (and their French fries) in the same oil as onion rings and other gluten products, so if you can’t tolerate that, you should skip eating here (because it’s torture to watch others eating the wings you want!) and make your own wings at home (here’s my recipe). They do have salads and other GF items on the menu.

If you’re ok with the possibility of cross-contamination, the sauce and the wings do not contain added gluten. We had wings and fries on our recent visit to the Eastern Hills location- mild, medium and BBQ wings. All are delicious and come with a large dish of celery, carrots, and bleu cheese (check the label on the dressing for gluten – ours was fine).  The wings are huge and wonderfully crispy.  Duffs2

mar vista smoothieWhen I found myself on Siesta Key in Florida (near Sarasota), I

View from the dock

View from the dock

enjoyed the sun and sand, but I also need seafood! We had a lovely meal at Mar Vista, located on the water on Longboat Key. They offer a separate gluten free menu. This restaurant does not do any real substitutions, but they at least clearly articulate what is gluten free and what is not, and there is a nice list. First off, know that you can get any fish on the menu grilled. I was close to ordering this, but then decided to spice things up and order what the restaurant is known for – crab.

mar vista shrimp1I started with a wonderful gluten free strawberry daiquiri (sans alcohol) which was exactly what I needed as we sat at our table right on the edge of the sand. The restaurant has a sandy area with tables as well as a covered patio area. They have a dock with seating if you end up waiting (as we did). There are many islands just offshore and we saw lots of fish jumping as we mar vista crabwaited. It was beautiful and relaxing.

My companion and I shared a plate of peel and eat local shrimp that were simply heaven.

My bucket o’ crab was fantastic, with king, snow and Dungeness. It came with corn on the cob and red potatoes (the Dungeness is underneath so you can’t see it in the photo – this was a deep bowl!).

The waitress was not terribly knowledgeable about gluten and brought a homemade mango and coconut loaf of bread to the table, saying to me “I don’t know if you can eat this…” (my companion said it was very good). Nevertheless, the separate menu was easy to navigate and my dinner was tasty. My gluten eating companion had some pan-fried flounder she enjoyed very much. I would eat here again.

chic pizza foccI recently found myself in Chicago for the first time. I’d never had gluten free deep dish pizza (or any deep dish pizza).  My mission was clear! Lots of Googling later revealed there to be only one place in the entire area that offered a true deep dish pizza without gluten. Chicago’s Pizza.  While this chain is not as well known as say, Giordano’s, it met my needs! We went to the branch in Old Irving on a Thursday night. Ambience was lacking and the pounding heavy metal music did not enhance our visit. The menu was big with gluten free options clearly listed. We could have had a stuffed pizza (which seems to be their specialty) but went for the traditional deep dish. We also ordered a Caesar salad, which, without the croutons, was GF (dressing made in-house). Our dinner started with complimentary focaccia, GF. This was a nice surprise but we didn’t eat a lot of it since we were saving room for the main event.

The main event took a while to arrive -almost an hour, but we didn’t mind since we knew they werechic pizza caesar actually making it fresh on the spot. The salad was good, with some radicchio mixed in for color. The pizza itself looked almost identical to the gluten deep dish pizza that also came to our table. For the GF pizza we chose broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and ground beef. It was a treat. The crust was slightly thinner than that in the gluten pizza but it had a nice crunch and a good flavor – the gluten eater at our table sampled it and declared that it was really indistinguishable from the regular gluten pizza. The toppings were good. In true Chicago style, there was little cheese and little sauce, but it was an experience. They clearly marked the boxes with our leftovers so we would not mix up the two pizzas.  The gluten free pizza was only $2 more than the gluten pizza.

We highly recommend this for your deep dish pizza experience. chic pizza deep dishNext time, we’ll try the stuffed pizza!