Vin-Chet LabelMark your calendars for Saturday June 8, 2013 from noon to 4, when The Gluten Free Bakery (also known as Vin Chet) will be holding a tasting of its gluten-free baked good. The Lancaster Deli will also be there, offering samples of sandwiches made on Vin Chet’s bread. Hot dogs will also be offered. Everything is free and it’s a great way to sample Vin Chet’s products.

MaziasPizza3When I was first diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, I mourned all the things I could never have. Take out pizza was on the list. Soon research revealed there is a growing list of places in WNY where you can get GF pizza. I’m still looking for one that holds a candle to regular gluten pizza however.

Gianni Mazia’s is the closest pizza place to my house, so it’s the obvious place to order from. We’ve tried the regular (red sauce) GF pizza and recently we decided to try a white GF pizza.

There were some glitches. We were told white pizza comes with an oil and garlic sauce, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms (and cheese). We said no onions and added chicken, spinach and broccoli. Our pizza arrived without tomato or mushroom.

Mazia’s GF pizza comes on an aluminum sheet and only comes in medium. Their GF pizza is the same crust as I’ve gotten at other local places (like Rocco’s on Transit): same aluminum pan, same crust. I’m willing to bet they’re all buying the crust from the same supplier. It’s thin, cardboard-like and lacks any flavor or decent texture. We only order it when completely desperate at this point since it always disappoints us.

Mazia’s digital sign had been advertising GF ravioli. We tried to order that and were told they don’t have it anymore.

The quest for really good local GF pizza continues.

Caesar

Caesar

Savor is the fine dining restaurant at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. It’s a restaurant school, which means all of the staff are students. We’ve been to several other restaurant schools (notably in Philadelphia and San Francisco) and I always love the atmosphere – people who are passionate about food, trying to learn as much as

Risotto

Risotto

they can, and do as good a job as possible. There are often mistakes, but somehow everyone is very earnest which makes up for it.

We headed up to the Falls on a Saturday night after making a reservation and mentioning two people in our party were gluten-free. We were told it would not be a problem at all. We easily found free parking on the street, although there is a ramp in the building (this is in the old Rainbow

Carpaccio

Carpaccio

Mall building). The lobby is beautiful with a very modern fountain. There is a Barnes and Noble store that also sells culinary items. It was closed when we got there and appeared quite small. The restaurant was comfortable and attractive and you can see the kitchen from just about every table. All the staff was unfailingly polite and attentive during our meal.

After we were seated we asked our server what the gluten free choices were. She scurried back to talk to the chef. The information she returned with was not very complete. She basically said we could have the Caesar salad without croutons and that the fish dishes were gluten free. She did not address what other items on the menu could

Salmon

Salmon

be presented gluten-free by removing sauces or making adjustments (and since we called ahead with our needs we expected some effort to be made).  You can see the menu here – there is also a lunch menu (which is filled with gluten, other than the salads, unfortunately).  We were presented with a specials menu but it had only one item and one cocktail on it (an appletini which my of newly drinking age daughter enjoyed).

We began with an amuse-bouche of saffron risotto. It was a nice little bite. The server did not specifically tell us it was GF, which would have been nice.

The dinner menu has 3 salads – Caesar, farro, and arugula. Three of us got the Caesar. My son is not

Beef tournedos

Beef tournedos

GF and his came with one large crouton on top. The salads were a bit heavily dressed for my taste, but had a very nice tang. There were two anchovy fillets on top. Overall, they were quite good. My daughter who is not GF began with the beef carpaccio. This dish could easily be GF if ordered without the toast. It came with citrus segments which added a nice flavor. She felt the beef was not presented rare enough and was in fact slightly brown. It was thinly sliced and flavorful, however.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

There is a nice selection of entrees, however all of the pizza (in their wonderful pizza oven) and pastas are off-limits for those who are GF. I wish they could offer a GF pizza from that oven!

My daughter and I both ordered the salmon which was served on a banana leaf and jasmine rice and accompanied with a coconut broth you could pour over it, macadamia nuts, and an interesting little yolk-like sac of pineapple juice you pierced and also poured over the dish. The salmon and rice were prepared perfectly. The coconut broth and pineapple juice could barely be tasted, so those flavors need to be much stronger for the dish to be successful. It was a bit bland, but when you could taste those flavors, it was a lovely combo. I loved the macadamia nuts!

My husband ordered the tournedos of beef. We were told the sauce (cognac demi-glace) was not GF but the dish could be offered “plain.” He asked if the chef could substitute something GF instead of the sauce (often a flavored butter is an easy switch a chef can manage). That didn’t happen however. The tournedos were crusted with pepper, which was done in a heavy-handed manner. Perhaps if it was balanced out with a sauce, it would have been good. He also did not care for the whipped potatoes which had a heavy dose of mustard in them.

Our non-GF son had the gnocchi which he enjoyed.

Dessert was a short menu with a bananas Foster and a gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. The menu specifically identified it as GF. Why can’t they do this on the dinner menu also? Everyone at the table got the cake which was mostly a mousse with a thin sheet of solid chocolate on top, a mint cream and some mint ice cream with chocolately crackles. It was delicious. There was just enough mint to balance the richness of the chocolate. It was a nice ending to a fairly nice meal.

Our bill came to $172 for 4 apps, 4 entrees, 3 desserts, and one cocktail.  Not a cheap night out and for that price I would have expected to love the food. But, it was fun and they did understand our dietary needs. If you like fish, give it a try!

 

 

 

Pizza

Pizza

In my quest for a good GF pizza, I realized that Pizza Plant offers a gluten free menu on Wednesdays at its Transit Road location and Saturdays at its Main Street (Walker Center) location.  The menu is not huge, but it has key items to help the GF feel not so deprived.

We ordered the GF pizza which comes only in medium, but this crust is definitely made in-house and is not the prefab crust on an aluminum tray you get elsewhere. I had high hopes. The pizza was cold when we got it home and the cardinal rule of GF breads is to always eat them hot, so we heated it up. It was still not anything I want to eat. The crust had a big of that soggy, crumbly texture. The pizza itself could have used a lot more sauce. We had mushrooms and spinach

Lasagna

Lasagna

as toppings.

We also tried their GF chicken fingers which we give high marks. You can order them at any hotness level you like, but we got plain. They were crunchy and satisfying.

We tried the GF Jimbrone Lasagna. It is made with penne however and has hamburger and sausage. This wasn’t lasagna – it was baked penne. But it was good. The noodles tasted like regular pasta. the sauce was flavorful and there was lots of meat. It had a crunchy browned cheese topping. The portion size was huge – it would easily feed four. We have to quibble with the accompaniments though. I had a long conversation with my order taker about the salad that was supposed to come with it and he indicated which dressings were GF (I chose the house creamy garlic). When we unpacked our order, we had no salad, but instead there was a small container of broccoli. There was also a mysterious roll. We weren’t told that bread came with our GF items and

Chicken fingers

Chicken fingers

since we ordered gluten items for the kids, there was no way to be sure what it was. Into the trash it went.

We used to love Pizza Plant for their pizza pods. In fact, I don’t think I ever ordered anything else there in the many years we went. If they can make a GF pizza crust, why can’t they use it to make their signature pod? If they added GF pods the menu, we would be back in a heart beat.

 

Ribs

Ribs

An entire gluten free meal with no substitutions? That my friends, is what awaits you at Kentucky Greg’s on George Urban in Depew. My family has been fans of Greg’s for years. Their authentic barbecue is absolutely delicious.

I was a little worried once I became GF – did their sauce have gluten? Was I going to be relegated to a salad? Not at all. The servers know exactly what is GF on their menu and what isn’t and the good news is all the barbecue is GF. Their Brunswick stew, gumbo,macaroni salad and okra are not GF, and none of the rolls or bread are, but other than that, you can order at will.

Most dinners come with Texas toast – ask to have your meal without it.  At a recent meal we enjoyed the barbecued chicken platter (order a half chicken for just $2 more than the quarter chicken and take it home to eat the next day), and a rib and chicken platter. Their fries are crisp and good (the frying oil is not contaminated with gluten). Their

BBQ chicken and fries

BBQ chicken and fries

cole slaw is creamy and delicious and their barbecue sauce is the right mix of smoke and sweet.

They participate in Restaurant Week, so if you’re looking for a deal, check them out during one of those special weeks.

TedsDogs2Ted’s Red Hots has been an institution in these parts for many years. Since I went gluten-free, I’ve been to Ted’s but with a gluten-free bun in my purse! We just stopped in for a quick dinner recently and were thrilled to see the sign that they now have gluten-free buns! They are 50 cents each and are kept sealed in individual plastic bags. They are warmed before serving. They do not place them on the grill, and they are held with a napkin under them. While I am so sensitive to gluten that cross-contamination bothers me, I know others are, so I watched closely. If you are concerned, I would ask the server to change gloves before filling your order. Get your own ketchup out of the dispenser. The other condiments are used with a spoon the may sometimes touch buns, so you might want to avoid those if you are concerned.TedsGlutenFree

Ted’s fries their onion rings and French fries in the same oil.

Enchilada or burrito?

Enchilada or burrito?

You know you’ve got a fighting chance for a safe GF meal at a Mexican restaurant since corn tortillas are (usually – you should always ask!) gluten-free. La Tolteca on Transit Road in Williamsville was a regular joint for us before we became GF. We headed there recently again.

First, let me shout and stomp about one of my pet peeves. If you have a gluten-free menu, please put it on your web site! La Tolteca does not and you wouldn’t know you could eat there unless you made the effort to call ahead.

And then there is my second pet peeve. If you have a gluten-free menu or special gluten-free options, please mention it on your menu! Even a little box that says “ask about our gluten-free menu” would be enough.

La Tolteca has gluten-free options, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at their menu. We asked

Fajitas

Fajitas

and while they do have gluten-free options, there is nothing in writing to guide you. Instead, our waitress pointed at various areas of the menu. It was very, very confusing. In fact, it was so confusing, I can’t even remember what was and wasn’t GF. There was something craziness about how you can order an enchilada but only with burrito sauce, or the other way around. And corn tortillas cannot be substituted for all flour tortillas on the menu. I asked why and was told “because they are smaller.” This made no sense to me at all. I really wanted a quesadilla, which would be completely GF since it has cheese and veggies and meat in it, no sauces, but was told that couldn’t be done. Instead, we were told to look for menu items that said they could be made with flour or corn tortillas, then ask if the ingredients are GF.

I ended up with the fajitas. My husband had either an enchilada with burrito sauce or a burrito with enchilada sauce (neither of us can remember which).

The refried beans are GF. The chips are GF. The Spanish rice is GF. There are a fair number of options here, but the problem is trying to determine what exactly they are. They really need to print up a sheet listing what is available for clarity. We had to ask our waitress to come over several times to answer questions. All of this could have been avoided with a printed GF menu.

We find the food here to always be acceptable. It’s not fantastic, but it is reliable. I’m still mourning my quesadilla, but we will probably be back again in the future if the craving for Mexican hits us.

roccosThe quest for a good gluten-free pizza continues. One of our first stops was Rocco’s Wood-Fired Pizza on Transit Road in Amherst. I’d heard that Rocco had GF pizza, but you wouldn’t know it from their online menu. You also wouldn’t know it unless you asked the waitress. Sigh. How do they expect diners to even know to ask if they don’t let us know they have options?

We started with a Caesar salad (sans croutons) which was good. We ordered a GF pizza. I think this is the same crust used by other local pizza parlors – I do not think they make their own. It was thin and cardboard-like. It’s the identical size that you find in every restaurant that offers it. I think they’re all ordering it from the same supplier sadly. Yes, it’s made in the wood oven, but it didn’t do much to help it. The toppings and sauce were all good.

We also tried their Wood Oven Roasted Chicken Wings which are GF. These sounded delicious (marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and herbs then roasted in the wood oven). They were a bit rubbery however, as the skin did not crisp. The flavor was great, but they were very oily. I would love to try a chicken breast marinated then cooked in the oven this way, but wings are too greasy I think.

Rocco’s is a bit loud, with big screens playing the sporting event of the day. The tables feel a bit crowded together and it’s quite loud inside.

I’m still looking for a good GF pizza.