HydraulicHeat 2-12-2016 5-36-06 PMWe went to Hydraulic Hearth in a snowstorm on a Friday night. We had a reservation but the place had some empty tables. Good thing too, since I think it would be really loud if it was full since it is jut one big echo-y space with what I am sure is a busy bar scene. Although they do not mention on their online menu that they have gluten free pizza crust, it’s on the in-restaurant menu and a friend tipped us off. Otherwise I would HydraulicHeat 2-12-2016 5-36-16 PMnever have bothered to go (pet peeve alert).

We started with the fondue (without bread) and a farm salad. The fondue was a dish of ooey, gooey cheese with apple slices and broccoli for dipping. It was good, but it would have been nicer with some slices of gluten free bread. It also looked to me as if they made our plate sans bread, but didn’t add any extra veggies or fruit to compensate, in comparison to other tables. The salad was fine, but unremarkable. It had some goat cheese in it which was a nice touch. The balsamic dressing was a little bit too balsamic-y for my taste. It was presented very nicely inside a wall of cucumber peels which was pretty, but fell apart instantly when you ate it of course.

pizzaI ordered the burrata pizza and the husband got the sausage pomodoro. There were a couple of interesting specials – fish fry pizza and fried chicken pizza but neither were GF. The burrata was good with lots of crispy prosciutto and a good amount of burrata, tomato and basil. Again, I felt overwhelmed by balsamic vinegar. The crust was not your typical restaurant kind thank goodness (usually bought frozen on an aluminum pan crust). I don’t know if it was housemade, but it was thin, crispy, and fresh. The GF pizza 2pizzas are noticeably smaller than the gluten pizzas (imagine the pizza pans in these pics filled to the edge – that’s how big the gluten ones are). We each ate one entire GF pizza while a gluten pizza would at least feed 2-3 people. The husband’s sausage pomodoro was also good with lots of cheese and a good amount of sausage. While we enjoyed our pizzas, we didn’t feel they were fantastic and it didn’t really make us want to go back.

HydraulicHeat 2-12-2016 6-31-31 PMWe ordered the chocolates for dessert, made by local purveyor Blue Table. They were excellent. I had never had them before and they came in interesting flavors like sesame, passion fruit and coffee with dark chocolate. Delicious – and a GF choice that is NOT flourless chocolate cake or crème brûlée. Hurray.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

I have been wanting to eat at A Better Way in Lockport for quite a while and we finally got there on a Friday evening for dinner. They are open until 7 on Fridays, but close at 6 Tuesday through Thursday, which makes it hard to go for dinner (they close at 3 on Saturday). They serve lunch daily though. Here’s the big headline for this place: EVERYTHING they sell is gluten free.

We started with the clam chowder. They make lots of soup here, and they sell it by the quart to take home. Our clam chowder was excellent. It was thick and flavorful with pieces of clam, carrot, and potatoes. It came with a piece of herb bread that was very good. For our entrees we both had to have the battered fish fry (only available on Friday). It has been years and years since I have had a

Perfect fish fry

Perfect fish fry

fish fry in a restaurant, although I do make my own at home successfully. This was exactly like a regular fish fry. A big piece of battered haddock took center stage. Thin and crisp fries came in a nice mound and there was also cole slaw on the plate, in addition to tartar sauce. The dinners both came with a roll, which we took home and ate for dinner the next night (heated up). I was thrilled with everything on my plate. The fish was perfectly done and was crispy and not too greasy. The fries were also crispy. The cole slaw was creamy but not too sweet. The tartar sauce was thick and perfect. When we ate the rolls the next night we were pleased with those as well. I highly recommend this fish fry. If you have sorely missed Friday fish fries, this will feed your craving.

There are lots of sandwiches on the menu, as well as eggs, salad, paninis, pancakes, and French toast. We will definitely be back for another meal – maybe lunch? Maybe breakfast? Maybe both?

ABetterWay 9-11-2015 6-51-17 PMWe also dropped some cash at the baked goods counter.  We bought French bread and multigrain sandwich bread which I have not sampled yet. We bought a lot of cake bites (small round cake balls covered in a frosting). These were good, but they were infinitely better after we refrigerated them. The dough can be a bit dry when warm somehow. Once they were cold they were fudgy and good (we tried chocolate orange, cookies and cream, caramel sea salt, and more). We rapidly ate the peanut blossom cookies which were wonderful, but also better cold. We brought home several kinds of muffins (carrot, pumpkin and apple) and the ones we have eaten were very good – moist and nicely made). We bought one nut bar which was kind of soggy and none too good.

Overall we were very, very impressed with this restaurant and bakery. We will definitely be back and we recommend it highly.

Potato chips

Potato chips

Oshun provides a beautiful setting and very creative food. We were bowled over by the murals on the wall and the elegant yet comfortable setting. They do not have a separate gluten-free menu

Oysters

Oysters

but our server was well-versed in what was and was not gluten-free. She was also willing to make any inquiries we had of the chef.

We enjoyed the basket of homemade potato chips that began our meal and could have filled up on those dangerously quick (they do not have separate fryers here, so skip anything fried if cross-contamination is an issue for you). There was a large specials menu

Trout

Trout

with ever changing oysters. The husband had an assortment and Oshun salmonpronounced them fresh and wonderful. They come with dipping sauces. I started with the crab Louie salad, which is served rather oddly so that the sauce was all at the bottom of the dish. It required some mixing to achieve a complex bite. Once I managed that, I thought it was fresh and tasty and particularly appreciated the pomegranate gelee.

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas

For the main course I ordered the rainbow trout which is accompanied by grilled pear and manchego. The husband ordered the salmon kabobs which came with a honey mustard glaze and sauerkraut. I found I could not eat the trout since it had

Broccoli

Broccoli

truffle oil on it (something I just don’t care for – and which was not mentioned on the menu), so we switched. I enjoyed the salmon immensely and the sweetness of the glaze contrasted well with the saurkraut.

We also ordered some sides: black eyed peas (with coconut milk succotash, water chestnuts and apple Brussels sprout slaw) and broccoli (grilled with mushrooms, grits and avocado). Both provided unique and interesting flavors. They are things you might not think to put together, but which we found refreshing.

There were no gluten free desserts worth pondering (as always: someday I will go to a restaurant that understands this and makes the effort).

We would go back here again because the seafood quality was superb and the flavor combinations are so complex that we know we are sure to be surprised.

Texas de Brazil 9-6-2014 7-51-26 PMThis is a national chain and we actually visited a location in Miami several years ago, before we were gluten-free. We’ve also been to many other Brazilian barbecues across the world because they are

Buffet

Buffet

a place where our kids were always happy. Now that we’re gluten-free, this style of restaurant suits us perfectly because of the many options and the fact that all of the meats are prepared without gluten. If you’ve never been to a churrascaria, there are three components. First there is a huge salad bar that includes hot and cold dishes – it is more of a buffet than a salad bar. Next, gauchos come around carrying hot meat on skewers and they slice pieces off for you at your table. They have several cuts of pork, lamb, beef, chicken and usually sausage. Many also have roasted pineapple they slice for you as well, but this location did not. Thirdly, the server brings Brazilian cheese puffs, potatoes, and plantain to the table to share. Some restaurants also offer special sauces for the meats on the table but this one did not.

We asked our server what items at the buffet were safe for us and she had the chef meet us there. He walked us through and pointed out every item to avoid, and we truly appreciated this personalized service. We could eat almost everything and heaped our plates with salad, green bean salad, cheeses, hot salmon, hot potatoes, cold potato salad, pineapple carpaccio, asparagus, pickles, and much more. It was a good-sized buffet with numerous options, although the other restaurants we have visited have often had a bigger selection. Everything on the buffet was excellent so we were quite pleased with it. Our son gobbled up items we could not eat, such as lobster bisque, lots of bread, and some couscous. The cheese puffs that came to the table are gluten-free (and this has been true in every churrascaria we have visited) and they are amazing. Once we made a dent in our salads, we flipped the little

Some of the meats we enjoyed

Some of the meats we enjoyed

coasters next to us over. One side is red and one is green. When it is flipped to green the gauchos begin to come with the meat (and if you want a break or are just done, flip it back to red and they stop). The meat is on big skewers and the gauchos carry knives. They slice the meat directly onto your plate. There was quite a wonderful assortment: filet, filet wrapped in bacon, Parmesan crusted pork, bacon wrapped chicken, Parmesan crusted chicken, lamb chops, leg of lamb, flank steak, sirloin, sausage and more.  My modus operandi is to take one piece of everything and if I don’t care for it, push it to the side. My favorite was the filet, but other items were good as well. The mashed potatoes and plantains (cooked in cinnamon)

One of our plates from the buffet

One of our plates from the buffet

that came to the table were wonderful and also gluten-free.

We sampled a papaya cream for dessert which was a light very whipped milkshake. I felt it didn’t have much flavor so I wasn’t a fan.

Sides

Sides

Cheese puffs

Cheese puffs

Be forewarned that this is not a cheap meal. It cost us $200 for three people, but if you have a meat lover in your family, you will get your money’s worth. Kids think it is incredible. It’s a fun and different kind of outing and in addition to the food being good, one of the benefits is that meat is HOT and freshly carved when it hits your plate and this makes it taste so much better. If you have vegetarians in your group, you can buy just the buffet portion of the meal for them.

Papaya cream

Papaya cream

This location is a bit small and the tables are close together. It’s also quite loud, but we had an enjoyable evening and left very well-fed! It’s not often you can go to a restaurant and eat almost everything they have.

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.

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.

 

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.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

I was well overdue for a visit to Bon Bon’s Gluten Free Bakery at 1298 Orchard Park Road in West Seneca. This bakery has been open a year and a half but I didn’t know about it until recently. Bon Bon’s is a small little store front. It’s all run by one woman, so the hours can vary (check the web site – she recently introduced new summer hours). On the day I stopped in, the case held 3 types of cupcakes; Danish in two flavors; chocolate chip, sugar, and peanut butter cookies; brownies; Twinkies; and spritz cookies. She makes bread, but only on Wednesdays, so we missed out on that.  I brought a little bit of everything home to taste.

The baked goods look like they are homemade, and I don’t mean that as insult. The edges on the cupcakes were not perfect and other items had less than perfect shapes.  I would rather eat something that tastes great and looks homemade than have a perfectly shaped baked good that

Danish

Danish

tastes like sawdust. This is real food.

We sampled the cupcakes later the same day. The vanilla cupcakes were good – moist and tasty. The chocolate cupcakes were cream filled I was told when I purchased them. There wasn’t much cream in them, but there was a dab. I was a little surprised that there was almond extract in the frosting. I would have expected a bakery that deals with people with food allergies would want to tell clients there is a tree nut product in their baked goods. I’m not a fan of almond flavoring, but other than that the cupcake was moist and tender and very good.  We were pleased.

The peanut butter cookies were absolutely fantastic. The heart shaped spritz cookies were not good in our opinion. Very sawdusty.

bon bon cookiesI would have loved the Danish, but these had almond extract in them as well. We sampled cherry and apple. They had a wonderful texture – very fine crumbed and tender. The filling was fruity and sweet but not cloying. There was just enough frosting. They could have been winners, except for the almond flavoring.

The brownies were dense and good, however my taste runs to darker chocolate-ly brownies – it was almost a German chocolate flavor. They were acceptable, but the ones from Vin Chet are better IMHO.

It’s great to have two gluten-free bakeries in our area and I hope some more people hop on the bandwagon!

If you go, be aware this bakery is an all CASH business. She will take personal checks as well.