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

Lobster poutine

Lobster poutine

Hertel Avenue is where it’s at in Buffalo these days and on a recent Saturday we decided to head to the neighborhood and have dinner at Craving. We called for a reservation and they were pretty booked, so I recommend calling ahead.

Our waitress was a wonderful woman named Hilary who is herself gluten-free. She took the menu (which is inside a plastic covering in the menu holders) and using a  wipe off marker, crossed off what we couldn’t eat and marked things that were not GF but which could be modified. I wanted to kiss her. Why can’t other restaurants do this? It is MUCH easier than having someone point at things  – I can never remember everything they pointed at or what

Oysters

Oysters

they said. She also went through the specials menu with us. Her help was invaluable and she was very relaxed and friendly about the whole thing. What a lovely experience.

For starters, I had the lobster poutine. Oh yes. French fries with lobster, cheese and hollandaise. It was a HUGE bowlful and really could have been a complete meal. And it was incredible. This is not something I ever would have thought I would want, but it was fabulous.  The fries were homemade and had a deep flavor. The cheese was gooey. The lobster was not overcooked. The hollandaise was bright and sunny. An unbelievable plate. The husband got the oysters on the half shell which were fresh and wonderful.

For the main course I ordered one of the specials. It was prosciutto-

Marlin

Marlin

wrapped marlin, on a corn tortilla, with corn risotto. It had an avocado sauce on top and a super spicy tomato sauce on the plate (too spicy for me – I scraped that to the side). The marlin was a little dry, but the rest of the dish was good. I could have eaten a whole bowl of that risotto with the lovely nuggets of corn in it. And I’ll eat anything with avocado.

The husband ordered a small plate of the root

Short rib

Short rib

beer braised short ribs that come with a panzanella salad. Our wonderful waitress said she would just tell the chef to leave out the bread in the salad, so it was a watermelon, feta, and tomato salad. I love watermelon and feta together. The short rib was deeply caramelized and very moist and flaky.  I thought it was amazing, but it needed some potato or something on the plate. I was longing for a starch and gravy with it.

The dessert choices were limited (4 items, only one of which was GF – the ever-present creme brulee) so we passed.

Our kids were along : both had the lobster poutine and then my son had a pizza and my daughter had gnocchi. Everyone in the family was satisfied here and we were so grateful to be treated kindly and thoughtfully that we we definitely be returning here in the future!

Salad

Salad

If you’re a local Buffalonian, you probably remember that Butterwood had a dessert restaurant on Main Street in the village of Williamsville for many years. Butterwood has now been re-incarnated as a full service restaurant (Butterwood Sweet and Savory), but they still offer a decadent dessert counter. The restaurant is in the basement of the Lafayette Hotel. It’s a little challenging to find it. You can either enter at the far back corner of the building, where you must navigate down some treacherous steps, or wander through the lobby all the way to the back of the building where there are equally steep stairs to deal with (they do have a mini-elevator from the street entrance).

The restaurant is a bit cavernous and cold. You feel as though you are in a basement. It’s also very echo-y. The service was attentive, but we were there on a quiet week day night.

Lamb

Lamb

I’m quite pleased to see the new life the Lafayette Hotel has taken on. My grandparents spent their wedding night here  during World War II. It was in disrepair for many years but is now a downtown hotspot. The restaurant’s concept is that each item has a sweet and a savory component.

When we made the reservation we mentioned there was a gluten-free diner in our party. When we were seated, I asked if they had a GF menu. They did not and the waitress then began to point to items I could consider. I find this confusing and hard to follow. Even if they handed me a menu that had a discrete dot next to the items I could order, it would be much easier than trying to remember the choices. There were many items that were off-limits unfortunately.

butterwood cupcakeI started with the Simple Salad. I found the dressing too spicy for my palate and did not enjoy this choice. I would have been happier with the Sweet and Savory Salad I suspect. It was a lovely salad and would have been great if I’d been able to eat it without burning my mouth. Other apps were a possibility, including the seafood shots (my mom ordered this and enjoyed it), the raw oysters, or the charred lamb.

For my entree I had the Rack of Lamb and was able to substitute mashed potatoes for the orzo. The lamb was done perfectly. The potatoes were tasty. The blood orange granizado was a little dish of a sweet slushy I enjoyed very much. I didn’t care for the smoked Brussels sprouts, mostly because I’m not interested in winter vegetables in late June.  There were few other entrees that were GF. I could have had pork or filet and that was about it.

I was concerned there would be no dessert options, but was pleased to discover there were GF cupcakes, creme brulee, and a flourless chocolate cake in the beautiful dessert case. I had a chocolate cupcake and it was really fabulous – moist and rich. It was nicely done. (Follow up note: we were downtown a few weeks later on a Saturday and got some cupcakes to go – this time my cupcake was dry).

I would go back, but only if the menu changes, since there just were not many options. The lamb and dessert were delicious. I made a poor choice for the salad, so that was my fault.  The food is creative and fun.

 

Carrots and hummus

Carrots and hummus

We recently visited Coco’s at 888 Main Street in Buffalo.  This is a comfortable little bistro between Virginia and Allen Streets. We went on a Saturday night and although there were some people at the bar, there was only one other table occupied. They have a patio out back which might have had more patrons.

Our server could have been a little more helpful when we asked about gluten-free items but she did try. She said she knew the trout was GF, but thought almost everything else had gluten. I pointed out a few items that sounded as though

Trout

Trout

they might be GF and she went to check with the chef. When she returned she said although all their sauces were made in-house, the person who made the BBQ was not there and the chef in the kitchen didn’t know what was in it. She knew enough to tell us that the rosemary frites were battered, so we avoided those.

When she brought bread for the other diners at our table, she brought us carrot sticks to dip in the white bean hummus and this was a very nice touch and one that was much appreciated.

Risotto

Risotto

I ordered the trout, which is served whole (head on), deboned (more on that in a minute) and stuffed with lemon slices and thyme sprigs. All of the sauces that are available for it are GF so I had beurre blanc. The trout came with an arugula salad and I ordered some risotto on the side. The trout was perfectly cooked. The sauce was superb. My only problem was the bones. There were lots of them, which made eating it a challenge. If it weren’t for that, this would have been a near perfect entree. The risotto was good, however the peas that were in it were raw, which was a weird textural contrast.

My husband ordered the mussels. The menu has a large selection of preparations and he chose the Provencal version. The mussels came in a big

Mussels

Mussels

covered pot. They were flavorful and sweet and the broth was mild and added a nice taste to them. His biggest complaint was that the pot was tall and narrow and all the broth was at the bottom, making it very hard to get to it until he was almost done. The mussels come with frites but he asked to substitute a small Caesar salad instead (no croutons). This was not a problem. The salad was fine, but could have used less pepper.

Other items on the menu that might work for GF: the shrimp appetizer (with the questionable BBQ sauce), several of the salads (the kale sounded good), stuffed dates, or one of the burgers without a bun (there is a lamb burger that sounds interesting). There is also a nightly list of several specials to choose from. The night we were there,

Caesar

Caesar

there was a salmon dish that was probably GF (pending information on the BBQ sauce).

We perused desserts where we could have had a flourless chocolate cake, creme caramel, or a fun little hot fudge sundae with caramel corn. We passed (and brought home gluten free cupcakes from Butterwoods instead).

I would go back here, but would likely wait for the menu to change since there are not a ton of GF selections. It was perfect for a low-key night out.

 

The Lake Effect Diner has often been a fallback place for dinner for us. Everyone in the family can find something they want on the menu and like a true diner, you can get breakfast round the clock. Recently we had our first dinner there since going gluten-free.

The Lake Effect uses local, hormone-free beef, eggs, and chicken and its owner, Tucker Carlson, is tuned into the local food movement. This is a forward-thinking place. The fried chicken on the menu is listed as being gluten-free, so we thought there would be understanding about GF dining.  I imagine Carlson completely understands gluten-free dining, but the staff certainly doesn’t. We asked if they had a gluten-free menu. No, they don’t, but the waitress could ask in the kitchen about what on the menu was gluten-free. She came back to tell us they don’t have a gluten-free menu or make anything gluten-free (what about that chicken?) and “so like, you could order anything that doesn’t have gluten.” It was probably the most unhelpful response we’ve had yet when dining out.  There are things on the menu that are likely safe (eggs, salads, veggies) but the staff’s inability to have any kind of conversation about gluten ingredients made me very leery. Bottom line: At this point, I would say this is a place to avoid.

What did I eat? I had a cheeseburger with no bun, cole slaw, and fries. They make onion rings here, so I know the frying oil was contaminated (which does not bother me, so I was ok). It’s a pretty safe bet that the burger was grilled on the same griddle as gluten-containing items. I didn’t even bother with photos. I’m really disappointed in the response here.

Cheeseburger in lettuce

Cheeseburger in lettuce

We were pleasantly surprised by how gluten-free friendly Five Guys (8248 Transit Rd, Amherst) is.  The place is a favorite with our teenage son, so we’ve been a few times. If you or anyone in your family has a peanut allergy, steer clear. There are big boxes of peanuts where people scoop their own. You shell them at your table while waiting for your food and there are shells and peanut dust everywhere.

You can order your burger or dog without a bun and they keep it separate from any gluten items. You can get your item in a metal bowl or in a lettuce wrap. I like to get the lettuce wrap, but then eat it with a knife and fork. Five Guys has great toppings: mushrooms, onions, steak sauce, jalapeno, BBQ sauce, tomato, pickles and more.  The burgers are huge and very juicy. A “regular” burger is two patties. A “little” burger is one. One is

Fries

Fries

more than enough for me! The toppings (all GF) make the burgers fantastic and there is no charge for them, so load ’em up.

Their fries are fried in peanut oil and are GF. Nothing else is fried in the oil so there is no cross-contamination. The fries are thick and hand cut. I would like them to be crunchier, but they’re still good.

My teen son loves the beverage choices here – soda with all sorts of add-in flavors, so you can get Coke with orange or vanilla flavor added to it, for example.

And if you can’t face the thought of a burger and fries without a milkshake, the Transit Road location has a Red Mango next door where you can order a smoothie.

An added bonus – you can place your order online and just pick it up and take it home (this is convenient when you have a starving teen at home).

 

Chinese_GlutenFreeGluten-free Chinese food is hard to come by since traditional soy sauce has gluten. P.F Chang’s has a gluten-free menu (we will be reviewing it soon), but recently we decided to try something that wasn’t a chain. Wok and Roll on Sheridan Drive in Williamsville has a separate gluten-free menu. There were cheers of joy at our house when it was discovered. We called to order takeout. We had some trouble communicating with the woman on the phone, who did try very hard to get our order right. Soon after we ordered though, the restaurant called to say that was the “new girl” and they wanted to confirm some things about the order. I really appreciated that – I hate getting a bag of takeout home and realizing it’s not what I ordered!

The gluten-free items were hand-marked “GF” on the lids, which was an important touch I thought.

We ordered vegetable fried rice, which was confirmed as “no meat.” This was just ok. It didn’t have a lot of veggies in it, but there was nothing bad about it. The ginger chicken and broccoli was just chicken and broccoli – not a trace of ginger detectable to my palate, which left it blander than I had hoped. This came with plain white rice to serve over. Then there was the vegetable lo mein. The GF menu clearly lists lo mein as an option. When the restaurant called back to confirm though, I was told lo mein cannot be gluten-free. I asked why it was on the menu and was told I can have the lo mein sauce, but they will use chow mein fun noodles since those are gluten free. I didn’t have a problem with this, but just wish the menu could be clearer so you could know what your choices are. This dish was mostly rice noodles with a very scant amount of vegetables. It was disappointing.

The gluten eaters at our table had mixed reviews on their food – one proclaimed the spring rolls and sesame chicken very good, while the other gave it a total thumbs down.

I also suspect there was a lot of MSG in this food. I got a classic Chinese restaurant headache from it (hits within 1 hour of eating) which happens very rarely to me.

Overall I would say this didn’t satisfy our yearning for GF Chinese food as much as it could. Everything was bland with very few ingredients. If someone could offer me a GF eggroll, wonton, and fortune cookie, I would be a happy camper, but alas, that’s not available yet.

 

Saganaki

Saganaki

My family heads to the Buffalo Greek Festival every year, but this was our first year going without gluten. There were plenty of choices available. I think I might bring my own GF pitas in the future.

We started with saganaki, which is fried cheese. You can ask for it without the pita. It was delicious – lemony and rich. The chicken souvlaki was wonderful as always. A big salad with nice chunks

Chicken Souvlaki

Chicken Souvlaki

of chicken, tomato, onion, and feta. Ask for it without the pita. We also ordered a beef gyro. This comes on a pita and is wrapped up. You could order it without the pita (we are ok just taking it off the pita). I would say to skip the gyro though since there’s not much to eat if you’re not eating the pita. Dessert was rice pudding, which is sprinkled with cinnamon. Other GF options at the festival

Rice pudding

Rice pudding

this year included grilled lamb chops (I would get this rather than the gyro next time) and pork souvlaki on a stick.

We’ve gone to the festival at many different times through the years. This year we arrived on Friday at 5:30. It was perfect timing. It wasn’t

Gyro

Gyro

crowded and there were lots of places to sit. We’ve gone on Sundays in the past and they tend to run out of some menu items. Make sure you walk through the beautiful church and check out the marketplace in the basement where food, jewelry, art, and tshirts are sold.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Before we became gluten-free, Torches was one of our favorite places. The owners have recently opened Smoke on the Water in Tonawanda, on the creek near the Canal. This spot is a bit hard to spot since it’s tucked away on the corner of Young and Broad. There is very little parking in their lot, but plenty across the street behind Walgreens.

The restaurant is pretty small inside with a bar and some tables and it has a bar ambience, but the back deck is wonderful. There are plenty of tables with a view of the Creek. We enjoyed our visit here very much. Our server was friendly

Smokehouse Salad

Smokehouse Salad

and helpful and she was happy to inquire in the kitchen about what was gluten free (I’m still hoping for a server somewhere who will know this without having to check, but I can’t complain since she was very thorough!).

The four of us decided to order The American Dream. This allowed us to get 4 BBQ entrees , 4 salads, and 3 sides for $75, less than it would cost to order just the entrees and sides separately, so with the salads, it was a nice bargain. There are only two salads on the menu, so we got two of each – Caprese salad was very nice with fresh basil and smoked mozzarella dressing up the tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic glaze. The Smokehouse salad was a wedge of

BBQ platter

BBQ platter

iceberg with bacon, potato chips, tomato and bleu cheese dressing. Everything was gluten-free and all were nicely done.

For our entrees we ordered turkey, chicken, ribs, and pulled pork. They arrived on a big wooden platter. They cook everything in a big smoker in the parking lot, so this is the real deal. The BBQ sauce is gluten free. Everything was tasty. The turkey was something you don’t normally find at a BBQ joint and it had just enough smoke. The ribs were tender. The chicken was perfect and the pulled pork was tangy and moist.

For our sides, our kids got cornbread (NOT gluten-free so I didn’t sample). We chose sweet potato fries as our second side. These are waffle cut and come with

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

honey butter. They were fantastic – crisp and sweet. They are not fried in oil with anything else, so they are safe. We also ordered the Chiavetta’s potatoes – baby potatoes that have been boiled, soaked in Chiavetta’s dressing (by the way, I’ve confirmed with Chiavetta’s that their BBQ sauce and Italian dressing are gluten-free) and grilled. I wasn’t a fan of these. They needed to be grilled much more than they were – there were faint grill marks on one side of only some potatoes. There was nothing crisp or crunchy happening there. The dressing was very sour and tasted like straight vinegar.  I wasn’t a fan.

The menu has several sandwiches, but some would be good without the bread – the bologna sounded pretty good to us! Other eye-catching items included the baked beans that have collard

Grilled Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes

greens in them, French fries with voodoo powder, blackened grouper, whisky smoked shrimp with aoili, and a smoked pork stuffed potato. They have a specials menu, so be sure to check that out – prime rib was on it the night we visited with a creative preparation. Desserts appeared to be all gluten so we didn’t partake, but this is nice and close to Mississippi Mud’s at Niawanda Park, so ice cream is just down the street!

 

davids grilleA recent afternoon found me in the Southtowns and in need of lunch. My daughter whipped out her phone and using UrbanSpoon, decided we needed to go to David’s Grille in Orchard Park.  Lunch is a tough meal in restaurants for those of us who don’t eat gluten. You’re almost always stuck with a salad, unless you get a sandwich without the bun (which is not a lot of fun, excuse the rhyme).

David’s lunch menu had a nice assortment of salads – 7 of them. As soon as our waitress came over, I asked if they have gluten-free salad dressing. The white balsamic and raspberry vinaigrette are GF she told me. Several of the salads have gluten in the form of croutons, tortilla strips or pitas, but it’s possible to order them without. I got the David Eddy salad, which came with bacon, egg, cucumber, tomato, and cheese ( I had already dug in when I took this picture, so it’s not as pretty as it looked when it arrived). All salads can have chicken or shrimp added to them for $5 (chicken) or $7 (shrimp). Those items are gluten-free, but I didn’t get any. Since I was feeling deprived, I also ordered a side of fries. They have curly Q and regular fries. They cannot guarantee that the oil is not cross-contaminated, so if that’s a problem for you, don’t get the fries. Whatever you do, don’t get the curly Q fries, which have a coating on them that contains gluten. The regular fries do not, so I had those. My salad was excellent. Everything was fresh and it was a nice size. The fries were crisp and very good.

If you want to do a sandwich without bun, there are lots of options. My daughter ordered the David’s Grille Melt (on the bun, which had Buffalo chicken, caramelized onion, 2 cheeses and a dipping sauce) and enjoyed it. It would have been tasty even without the bun.

Our lunch came to a very reasonable $23.

The restaurant was almost completely empty during our visit, so it was quiet and service was very fast and attentive. The restaurant is attractive with a large hip-looking bar area. Parking is on the street or in a lot behind the building. I would come back here for lunch and sample a different salad if I find myself in the neighborhood again. The dinner menu didn’t present a lot of options for GF, unless you get steak or pork tenderloin, so I probably wouldn’t come for dinner.