I waited with bated breath for Corelife to open. I am a big fan of Panera’s salads (which I carefully research for gluten online before ordering!) and was looking forward to this new option because all of the menu items are gluten free (note that they offer you a piece of bread at the end but it is kept in a separate closed box). They offer salads, grain bowls, or broth bowls or you can make your own from their ingredients. For our first foray we decided to go with two salads from the menu – the chicken Caesar and the Cobb. While I love the concept, I wasn’t completely in love with the food as it came. The salads were heavy on greens and light on anything else. This could be remedied by making your own (or adding to the existing salad), but I think it would be pricier since I would

Cobb

want more veggies in my salad. It was a lot of lettuce and not much else. My biggest beef was with the salad dressing. For each of our salads, they scooped a huge ladle full of dressing onto them. It was far too much. In the future, I will ask for dressing on the side. Both of our salads had heavy, white gloppy dressing coating the lettuce. In smaller amounts, it would have been fine.

We also sampled drinks: a tropical green tea (completely unsweetened) and a tropical fruit punch with coconut water. The punch was very good. The tea was refreshing, but I like a bit of sweetness so I wouldn’t get that again.

We’re planning to go back. The broth bowls I spied other people eating looked really good, so maybe we will try some of those.

Updated: August 25, 2017

We gave them a second try and got take out.  We each got the Chicken and Rice Noodle Broth Bowl. I added carrots as an extra in addition to the kale, celery, scallions, and chicken that comes with it. They were good and very filling. If you’re expecting soup, that’s not what you’re getting. The veggies are raw, although we brought ours home and popped them in the microwave which did soften them up a bit. I liked the soup better than I liked the salad I had on our previous visit.  It was a really tasty, filling meal. I’ll definitely go back.

Tortilla

A recent meal at Aro Bar de Tapas in Williamsville is ranking as one of my best GF dining experiences in Buffalo. Not only is the menu clearly marked, but the servers are knowledgeable about how each item is made. Our server took the time to discuss with me why gazpacho (traditionally GF) was not listed as GF on their menu and also to discuss their shared fryer. He made it clear they would be as accommodating as possible. This is a restaurant where

Grilled romaine

celiacs can feel safe and people with gluten intolerance like myself can enjoy some options.

Tip: order lots of dishes (the plates are quite small), but don’t order them all at once so that you can have some pacing to your meal.

Watermelon

The Tortilla Espanola was fantastic with layers of egg and potato and onion and Spanish ham on top. Sandia Playa (Watermelon Beach) was a lovely concoction of fresh watermelon, salmon roe and radish. If you like watermelon with feta, you’ll love this. The best dish of the night was the Pollo Con Frutos (chicken with fruits). Half a chicken comes in pieces with loads of dried fruits. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the fruits were an amazing accompaniment. We also enjoyed shrimp in garlic, beets prepared seven ways, and grilled romaine. We also ordered the potatoes – they are cooked in a shared fryer so are not marked as gluten free, but shared fryers do not bother me. They were crunchy and perfect.

The desserts were my favorite. The strawberry frozen yogurt with lacto-fermented green strawberries and white chocolate is the most amazing mix of textures and flavors. It’s small though, so get one for each person! The flan is also truly lovely – not a traditional jiggly flan, but a custard with passion fruit served over dry ice.

Chicken

Flan

It has been quite a while since I’ve had such a creative, thoughtful, delicious meal locally at a restaurant that understands and works with dietary restrictions (the menu also marks vegetarian choices).

I would highly recommend this if you simply cannot face another meal where you can have X but without the sauce, or we can make you Y without the bun. I didn’t miss gluten in this meal and left completely satisfied.

We’ve been to Bacchus before, pre-GF, so I expected a good meal. It was not very busy on a Saturday night, but it was rather loud. They don’t have a separate gluten-free menu, but our waiter was knowledgeable and said we could order most things and they could adapt them.  I’m always happy when a server is knowledgeable but it’s never true that you can order anything because some things like pasta or gnocchi are based on flour.

Potato skins

I started with potato skins which were filled with a Gorgonzola cream and topped with prosciutto. When the dish came the server told me they had to cut off the top of them since they were breaded. This works for me since I am gluten intolerant but if I had celiac it would have been a problem – and he had no way of knowing why I asked for it gluten free. It was good, but it wasn’t potato skins. There was nothing crispy happening on the plate. It was a nice twist on traditional potato skins though. My husband

mussels

got mussels which were good.

For the main course I ordered salmon which is supposed to come with a pecan crust, spinach and a sweet potato hash. The server told me the pecan crust had breadcrumbs so they would

salmon

prepare it without. It had a beurre blanc sauce that I was ready to argue about – often restaurants prepare sauces that should not have gluten with flour as a stabilizer. I was happily surprised that this beurre blance was made traditionally and had no gluten. My husband ordered the ribeye which was supposed to come with a Gorgonzola crust. The server said they would have to make it without since it had breadcrumbs. I suggested they just use some plain Gorgonzola instead, which they did (because otherwise it’s just a plain piece of meat). As always I’m frustrated when the response to a gluten-free diner is to just take things away without making reasonable replacements.

As usual, the only gluten-free dessert option was creme brulee so we passed.

The food was all good and I would again in the future.

ranchos1Trying something new is always a good thing and recently we went to Ranchos Latin Foods.  They don’t have a web site but you can visit their Facebook page for hours, address, and some pics of dishes. I found however that some of the items mentioned on their Facebook page were not seemingly available the Saturday we went (kabobs or vegetarian arepas). It took me a while to get to the bottom of what we could eat and what we couldn’t. Several months ago I posted on their Facebook page asking what was gluten free. They asked me to message them my email address. I did and never heard from them. Then recently I messaged them just asking if the arepas were gluten free. No response. Finally we called and the phone was passed around and then someone shouted out to the kitchen and reported that the arepas had no wheat flour, just cornmeal.

The restaurant is sparse but clean. The menu is pasted on the counter and on the wall with photos. There is also a white board where they seem to write specials but it was hard to decipher and understand. You order at the counter and your food is brought to you. It’s all made to order, so it took a few minutes to come out.

We each ordered an arepa – I got chicken and the husband got beef. We got them with cheese and a side of yellow rice. The arepas are like round, fried cornbread, sliced in half like a bun and stuffed ranchos2with meat that is very lightly sauced. I did find half of an olive in mine, but other than that, there are no vegetables or added ingredients. We did each get a little plastic cup of garlic herb butter which I slathered inside my arepa. The arepa itself is crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. It has a slightly different texture than cornbread and has no sweetness. The chicken in mine was moist and good. The beef in my husband’s was better I thought, although it was a little greasy. The cheese we ordered was melted across the top. I’m not sure it added anything. The garlic butter added some flavor to the whole sandwich since we could not detect a taste from the very light use of a sauce. The yellow rice was fine but not exciting.

ranchos3The husband also got a can of Tropi-Cola which tasted like cola with a fruit flavor at the end. The more I tasted it though the more the fruit flavor tasted like bubblegum to me. There is also a pineapple soda available we did not try.

We enjoyed our arepas very much. They were super hot and steaming and tasted fresh with a wonderful combo of crunch and softness. They are very filling and neither of us was able to eat all of it. I wish there were some vegetable options to go along with it but there were none the day we visited. It’s a very heavy meal to eat without any fruit or vegetable.

This is definitely a place to visit when you want to try something new and are willing to get your hands a little dirty eating.

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.

Toutant 1-23-2016 5-18-28 PMOn a cold winter weekend we decided to try Toutant, known for its Southern style food. We tried to get a reservation but they had none available. The hostess suggested coming when they open to sit at one of the bar tables. We arrived a little before 5 (which they list as their opening time) to find about 8 people ahead of us in line. We did snag the last bar table but they made us wait 10 minutes after everyone else was seated before seating us.

sweet tea

sweet tea

The bar was not too noisy although it was cold to be seated so close to the front door. Our server was very conscientious and checked in with us constantly although it was nearly impossible to hear her since she was a low talker.

Country ham

Country ham

We were thrilled to see the menu clearly marked with gluten free items. However (and here come two of my pet peeves), the online menu does not indicate this at all (I only knew they had GF

cornbread

cornbread

items since someone I know ate here and told me – otherwise I would never have bothered to come) and our server brought us a specials menu which was not marked with GF items. How do you carefully mark your menu but not your specials? When we asked what on it was GF, she said she knew one thing was but would have to check. She did come back with another copy of the special menu marked up to indicate what was GF.

We each ordered a house made sweet tea since if you’re going to have Southern food, you just have this (and our server

shrimp and grits

shrimp and grits

kept bringing them so apparently they are bottomless). We started with the country ham and the cornbread. The ham came on a dinner plate (so not really a “small plate” as it was categorized) and was thinly sliced. It was very soft and had the texture of roast beef. It was lightly smoked and served with thin slices of pickle and some thick mustard. It was really a delicious plate and we had to bring leftovers home since there was too much to eat. The cornbread came in a small cast iron skillet and had crunchy edges and soft interior. Although the menu said it had honey in it, it was none too sweet. We ended up eating the ham, pickles, and mustard with the cornbread and that was a fabulous combo.

oysters

oysters

For the entree we shared the shrimp and grits. This was a nice warm bowl on a cold night. The grits were creamy, the shrimp were perfectly cooked and the tomato tasso offered a gentle sauce to the entire dish. The husband enjoyed some Vineyard oysters on the half shell which came with lemon and pickled ginger. They were fresh and beautiful. We also ordered the buttermilk taters as a side which are mashed potatoes and were creamy and rich. When they arrived at our table they were stone cold in a hot

bacon

bacon

bowl however. Back they went and some hot ones took their place. We also ordered a side of bacon which we didn’t enjoy much. It was a very meaty bacon, almost like ham with no crunch. That we brought home for our teenage son to finish off.

buttermilk taters

buttermilk taters

We inquired about desserts and were told they had two gluten free options. One was peanut butter fudge and the other was a chocolate dessert in which they could take out the chocolate cake, leaving us with ganache, sorbet, cranberries and chocolate (and you can bet they would have charged us the full price for this even though it didn’t come with the cake). Needless to say, we passed. Yet again I lamented the lack of real desserts that are gluten free. How hard would it be to buy GF cupcakes from one of the many local bakeries and freeze them then substitute that in the chocolate dessert?

I would definitely go back, but probably not for a year or so unless the menu changes. Everything was nicely done but there are just limited options when it comes to gluten free dining here. If only they would make the fried chicken GF….

UPDATE
After I tweeted my review, Toutant tweeted me to say the fried chicken can be made GF with prior notice. How on earth would I ever know this if the menu, the web site, and my server do not mention it? ESP? That is incredibly frustrating to me as gluten-free diner and very disappointing since I would have ordered this for sure.

UPDATE #2

Toutant also pointed out to me they do list GF items online. But you have to click tabs at the bottom of the page to see that and they are PDFs – not something I saw on my mobile. The main menu listed on their main page lists the dinner menu but doesn’t list GF items. I still maintain they’re making it too hard to figure out what they have to offer.

 

 

 

 

Anchor Bar 11-8-2014 5-43-14 PMIf you’re from Buffalo, you know the Anchor Bar is the original chicken wing home. We hadn’t been to the Anchor Bar in many years, until their new location on Transit Road opened. I anchor bar coleslawsnagged a local groupon for it and we had a $20 certificate to spend that only cost me $10. This new location feels a little crowded and small. The anchor bar friesservice was excellent, despite the crowds. Our server told us all the wings are gluten free and French fries can be cooked in a dedicated fryer to be gluten free. Music to my ears. We ordered a bucket of wings for our group (50 in all), made up of mild, medium and garlic Parmesan. We ordered fries and coleslaw as well.

The coleslaw was very heavy on the mayo with little other flavor and not much carrot to brighten it up. The fries were very good – crispy and delicious. We were a bit disappointed by the wings. They came with the paper dishes for the bones covering them, so by the time we got them, they were soggy from the humidity under those paper dishes. They dumped them all on one plate with no delineation for hotness, so it was very difficult to find what you wanted. We were also quite disappointed by the garlic Parmesan wings- they were medium hot wings with some garlic powder and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The menu did not explain this, and they were too hot for my palate. We were looking forward to some wings that didn’t have hot sauce on them. That was a missed opportunity to introduce new flavors I think. How great would it be to get some crunchy fried wings that don’t have the Buffalo hot sauce on them? The mild wings were often bordering on medium since all the sauce puddled at the bottom of the plate, soakinganchor bar wings everything.

We decided the wings at Duff’s make us happier – served separately and crunchier; we’re definitely on the Duff’s team. Obviously, like most Buffalonians, we’re really picky about our wings, which is coloring our judgment. This is definitely worth a stop for a gluten free local meal.

breads

breads

I grew up going to the Asa Ransom House in Clarence for special occasions, back when it was closed on Saturdays (the owners were 7th Day Adventists). We’ve been back twice since

applewood bacon salad

applewood bacon salad

going gluten-free, once as part of a large family dinner and once with a friend. Both times we were extremely pleased with the

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

options. There’s nothing adventurous here, but if you want nicely done, traditional food, you can get a very pleasing meal here. The interior is just as quaint and cozy as it’s always been, and while the servers wear

salmon

salmon

the traditional aprons, they’ve lost the little elastic bonnets I remember them having years ago. When we dined with our family, we were in the private back room,

Filet

Filet

which had one long table. It was a little cramped, but it was private. When we came recently with our guest, we sat in the front dining room. Be sure to poke your nose in the gift shop and check out the comfy living room which always has a jigsaw puzzle in progress. There are B&B room available upstairs if you can’t bear to leave.

They have a pretty big gluten-free menu to choose from.  The best part is that you are given two gluten-free breads to begin with. On our most recent visit, we received a cherry scone and an oatmeal bread item. Both were great, particularly when paired with the flavored butters that come with them. It’s nice to go someplace and have bread at the beginning of the meal.

There are several appetizer and salad options available. We had the applewood smoked bacon salad and the Caesar (the husband was thrilled with the anchovies on top). Both were wonderfully done, with fresh, ripe vegetables and nice dressing. For entrees, we had the filet and the salmon. Both were lovely, although the filet would have been better with some type of sauce. The fish had a honey pecan glaze. Both came with potato (white or sweet mashed) and vegetables. It was nothing that stretched the limits of culinary inventiveness, but it was all good food, cooked well, with good flavors. The food here is reliable and there’s something to be said for that when you are searching for reasonable gluten-free options.

Unfortunately, as often happens, they fell down on dessert. The only options were the dreaded creme brulee or ice cream. If they can make wonderful bread options for starters WHY can’t they offer something for dessert? I’ll never understand. That being said, I can see us coming here again and again if we need a comforting meal we can trust.

pancake house2pancake house 1Apparently I was the last person to know the Original Pancake House has a gluten-free menu. The OPH is a national chain and it’s known throughout the GF community for being one of the only places you can get a GF breakfast that is more than just eggs. We went on a late Saturday morning to the Williamsville location. It was crowded as always and we waited about 10 minutes for a table in the dreaded back room. We were given a card with the gluten free choices, which are only pancakes, pancakes or more pancakes. You can only get the dollar size, but you can choose from a variety of flavors and number of pancakes. I got plain. The husband got chocolate chip and pecan. We also had bacon and hot chocolate. The children had regular menu items. The service was slow, hectic, and forgetful. It was almost impossible to get all of our food and it took several reminders about missing items. Despite the craziness, the food was good. It was nice to go somewhere and have a real breakfast I didn’t make myself. We would be happier if they had real maple syrup (I am tempted to smuggle a jar in myself inside my purse next time). The pancakes were excellent and the flavored ones the husband ordered had the nuts and chocolate chips inside the pancakes as well as on top. They definitely know how to make pancakes here. The bacon is thick. The hot chocolate is rich. We brought tons of leftovers home (although we had to go to the serving stand and take some containers ourselves since there was no chance we could get our server to do it). It’s definitely a better experience if you don’t go on a weekend morning, but honestly, when else are you going to order pancakes? Once a year, it’s worth doing.

Dog e Style 10-25-2014 4-58-48 PMThe newest hot dog joint in Buffalo, Dog e Style, was surprisingly completely empty on Saturday night when we arrived. We were excited by the promise of a variety of different dogs and

Greek dog

Greek dog

preparation. They don’t have a web site, so I can’t give you a link, but you can see the menu on Buffalo Eats. When you walk in, it’s through the bar. There is a weird narrow room with counter seating then you get to the menu and the ordering station which is right by the grill. The big printed menu is on the wall, but then there is a big decorated chalkboard above the grill that seems to be the same thing, but you can’t really see it, so it’s hard to know. We were very, very disappointed that the seafood dog was not available. It was the only thing I wanted to try.  The menu is short, but perhaps a bit too short. They don’t list the condiments you can choose from so we had to ask. The menu says there is a daily special but there wasn’t one the day we were there.

Fries

Fries

The husband got the Greek dog, which is made of lamb and comes with a mix of feta, olive, tomato and pepperoncini as a topping. This was all mixed together, so if you don’t like the hot pepper (we don’t), you’re out of luck. I ordered the cheeseburger (I know! But I was grieving the seafood dog and just couldn’t face the other options). We also got some fries which are billed as twice fried. Our son got a regular dog (they serve Wardynski’s here). We ordered ours without buns since there they don’t have gluten free buns. The lamb dog was interesting, but not something I would want again. If I want those flavors, I think I would just go to a Greek joint. My cheeseburger was thick and juicy. The chef forgot the cheese so we had to send it back for that (considering we were the ONLY customers it shouldn’t have been that

Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

hard, also they only have a cheeseburger on the menu, not a hamburger). Their relish is called neon relish and it truly is neon. I don’t want to know what they added to make it that color, but I definitely don’t want to put something that color in my stomach again. The fries were a complete bust. Total disappointment. If you’re billing them as twice fried, they better be crispy. These were limp and not crunchy at all. They don’t deep fry anything else here, so there’s no gluten in the fryer.

Dog e Style 10-25-2014 5-05-18 PMThere is a large upstairs dining room which I think must get very loud, since the walls are made of corrugated metal. They didn’t have any silverware out upstairs, so we brought it up from downstairs. It’s flimsy plastic.

My prediction: this place isn’t going to make it when you can go to Ted’s or Louie’s.