mint slimsAlthough the Girl Scouts have come up with a gluten-free cookie (not so great in my opinion), they aren’t making Mint Thins for us GF people. It’s been many years since I’ve had a Mint Thin. I stumbled across a mention of Mint Slims in a magazine which claimed they were just as good as the Girl Scout version. It wasn’t a lie. These cookies are just like the Girl Scout version, except of course, there’s no gluten in them. They’re awesome stashed in the freezer and perfect for when you’re feeling completely deprived of every food you’ve ever loved. I order mine from Amazon, but I’ve heard other people have come across them in Walmart.

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.

Chicken souvlaki

Chicken souvlaki

Although Milos has been in Williamsville for a couple of years, we just got around to trying it. We were hopeful that it would be an easy GF experience, since the menu sported gluten free pasta. We thought maybe would be able to eat something other than souvlaki and salad. The husband ordered the gluten free pasta with Greek sausage (loukaniko) and red sauce. This was a nice dish, and the server verified the sausage was GF. The sauce was on the sweet side (which we like) and the sausage had lots of

Pasta with sausage

Pasta with sausage

flavor. This was a definite thumbs up.

I did not make out quite so well. First I asked about the Greek stuffed chicken breast, which is stuffed with rice, feta, spinach tomato and other GF ingredients. The server said it was GF, so I ordered that with a side of fries and the house salad. The server soon returned to say the sauce on the chicken was not GF. It seems maybe the chicken was already made and kept in the sauce since it was not available GF. So I went with chicken souvlaki with no pita (which is what I ALWAYS get at Greek restaurants, so definitely not exciting). There was a lot of confusion with the server over which one I wanted – the open face or the entree. I wanted the entree but then she went on about the size of the salad being small on that (she was confused). Finally we straightened it out and she put in an order for the entree. The souvlaki came and it really was a beautiful plate. The salad was fresh and colorful – no white lettuce or unripe tomatoes. The chicken was cooked nicely. However the side of fries arrived and they were battered. I don’t know how the waitress and the kitchen overlooked this. She assured me she had written gluten free on our order. While I can eat fries cooked in the same oil as other items, battered fries are loaded with gluten. I sent them back and ended up with a baked potato which was not what I wanted.

On the way our, the hostess asked how our meal was and my husband explained about the French fry mix up. She asked if the sweet potato fries were also battered. We had to tell her we had no idea, because they weren’t even mentioned as an alternative when we sent the battered fries back.

We enjoyed our food, but probably won’t be quick to go back after the confusion.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

My husband and I treated ourselves to a few days in Bermuda to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Bermuda is a stunning place with pink sand beaches, a lush and flowery landscape, friendly locals and some great shopping. You can read about how wonderful the island is in this piece I wrote for GoGirlfriend. I didn’t anticipate having a lot of difficulty dining gluten free here. First of all, there is no language barrier. And secondly, after vacationing in Ireland last summer we know that there are many, many people

Hors d'oeuvres

Hors d’oeuvres

in Ireland and the British Isles with celiac or gluten intolerance. Ireland is highly attuned to this and we dined quite well there. Since Bermuda is still under the crown, I expected that perhaps we would fare well here. Unfortunately there are only one or two places with gluten free menus on the island and we encountered a general ignorance about gluten most places (one waitress had equated it with dairy in her mind).

We chose to stay at the Fairmont Southampton (read my review of the hotel here)  in part because it offers the Fairmont Lifestyle menu options. All of their restaurants have gluten free options available and the staff is trained to understand what gluten is.  Because there were no other rooms available and because we were celebrating an important occasion, we stayed on the private concierge gold floor. In addition to a separate concierge desk on the floor, guests are provided with a free breakfast (continental with one hot item), free afternoon tea, free beverages, free hors d’oeuvres, and free dessert.

Dessert

Dessert

When we made the reservation we quizzed the reservation agent about whether our gluten free diet could be accommodated and she assured us it could be. Our needs were noted in the reservation. When we checked in, the concierge was aware of it and told us there would be gluten-free options for us at each food service.

There was some confusion the first time we came to the little dining area, but once the staff knew who we were, they always had gluten free options stashed for us in their little kitchen. They provided wonderful little snacks for us and the afternoon tea was over the top with scones, dessert squares, chocolate covered strawberries, and truffles. The hors d’oeuvres each night were completely gluten free so we could just help ourselves. They made little bites on

Ocean Club rock fish

Ocean Club rock fish

cucumbers and had cheese, fruit and chips available. The evening desserts were mousses or macarons, but were always delightful.  We each ended up with a little extra padding around the waist from all of these extra snacks and goodies. It was a wonderful experience.

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

We did not have breakfast on the concierge floor and instead bought the full buffet breakfast. They had gluten free toast available on request and there were always eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, smoothies, and omelets. If we didn’t look at the pastry offerings, we were happy!

Ocean Club mixed seafood grill

Ocean Club mixed seafood grill

We also dined at two restaurants at the hotel – the Ocean Club and the Waterlot Inn. The actual gluten-free menus for these restaurants were quite small, but they say they can make almost anything on the menu GF.

The Ocean Club

This beautiful restaurant is set on a patio above the Fairmont’s private beach. We enjoyed a mixed seafood cocktail and 3 types of oysters as well as gluten free bread as starters. Our entrees were rockfish (a Bermuda local specialty) with banana, almonds and butter sauce and a mixed seafood grill with calamari, shrimp, scallops and three types of fish with tartar sauce. We had a Bermuda strawberry split for dessert (made with meringues). All the fish was of good quality and the dishes were nicely prepared.  Seafood is often a good bet for a GF choice however as we learned while dining elsewhere on the island, it’s almost impossible to get anyone to serve you any kind of sauce with your fish if you can’t

Waterlot surf and turf

Waterlot surf and turf

eat gluten. This was the first place we dined and we didn’t realize how good we had it until we tried to dine elsewhere and often had to eat our fish plain (unless we begged for some butter and lemon to go with it).

The Waterlot Inn

Our final meal in Bermuda was on our actual 25th anniversary so we chose to go to the Waterlot, the fine dining restaurant on the property. The Waterlot is situated on the harbor (the other side of the hotel) and was a bit dark and heavy feeling inside. The staff was excellent and when they learned it was our anniversary they became even more helpful. We were brought gluten free bread to start. We enjoyed a shrimp cocktail as a starter (however we couldn’t have the cocktail sauce since they said it had gluten in it – which is possible if the Worchestershire they use contains gluten, however it really wouldn’t have been hard for the chef to mix some ketchup and horseradish

Waterlot grouper

Waterlot grouper

together). We also had a Caesar salad made tableside which was fabulous.

For our main dishes we ordered surf and turf (beef tenderloin and a local fish called red hine) and grouper with mango salsa. Everything is a la carte here, so we ordered potato gratin and asparagus. The asparagus was supposed to come with hollandaise, but again we were confronted with a sauce with gluten, so our asparagus came plain with lemon (a good hollandaise should not have gluten in it – it is egg yolk, lemon juice, and butter – that’s it!)

There were no desserts on the menu that really appealed to us so the chef put together a flourless chocolate cake with some fruit sorbets in a beautiful presentation

Waterlot sides

Waterlot sides

(including a piece of chocolate that said “Happy anniversary!”).

The food here was good but it does not rate as a top meal in my mind at all. I was disappointed that a hotel and restaurant that claim to understand and cater to special diets could not do a better job with substitutions and

Dessert at the Waterlot

Dessert at the Waterlot

creative options. However, in comparison the rest of the food we had in Bermuda, it was excellent.

If you stay at the Fairmont you know that you have safe, tasty food options (which is really in stark contrast to some other meals we had on the island) and a staff that at least understands your needs. We were deeply impressed with the food service on the concierge floor, as well as the extra attention that was put into making sure we were happy.

3-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 7-04-54 PM.com_2F4DJeDhP1BUinYsCCyWnuUj9cbkicjY3QrKsdTbBvnKdb_3Ds0-dWe had a wonderful gluten free dinner at Dick and Jenny’s on Grand Island, NY recently. They have a separate menu with lots of options, so we were excited to give them a try. The restaurant is a little small inside with some odd configurations (a curtain separates the dining room from the kitchen and a piano sits in the middle of the room). The walls are2-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 6-14-38 PM.com_2FLt_dbt2swHpeMQgNq5nG_paQvCZ-vhKsLeb7waClLhmh_3Ds0-d decorated with plates that were painted or drawn on by customers which is a cute idea. Our server was pleasant and very helpful when it came to gluten free options. When we ordered, he asked if we would like some fresh fruit instead of bread to

Oysters

Oysters

start. This was a very nice touch that was much appreciated.

I started with a portobello mushroom with fontina cheese and balsamic

Shrimp and scallops

Shrimp and scallops

glaze. It was nicely done. The husband had

Pasta

Pasta

smokey char-6-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 6-26-50 PM.com_2F2q3bD40iQE0DVVXIjoe3sfEYoANJx6NMRZ_CX2Jx-6_m_3Ds0-dgrilled oysters which were a bit like clams casino and he definitely approved. For my main course I had the shrimp and scallops with sweet potato grits and spinach. It was perfectly done and a wonderful mix of flavors. The husband had the black and blue pasta which included tri-tip and brisket in a cream sauce with Gorgonzola and bacon with rice noodles. It was a big, flavorful wow, other than one bite I had that was gristly.

It was a nearly perfect meal, but then we looked at the desserts and were disappointed as always. Our choices? Creme brulee and ice cream. Which is what I would have predicted. I wish someone would offer something else just once in a while! So we passed on the desserts and went home happy anyhow.

Other than that gripe, this is our new favorite place for GF food in Western NY!

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.

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.

Pizza_GF3I rely on Cup4Cup flour for all of my gluten-free baking.  They now have a pizza dough mix which I recently ordered. The first batch arrived from Chefs.com (via Amazon) but it had exploded in the packaging bag. Back it went and I reordered. The second package arrived safely(this time inside a box) and we tried it on a recent night. The bag says it will make two 9 inch pizza crusts. I made mine into two rectangles since our round pan was taken with the pizza for the gluten eaters in the house. Each one was roughly 7×7 in size – I tend to like my pizza crust thicker (you’re only seeing part of the pizzas in the photo).

cup4cup pizzaIt was easy to mix and requires only water and egg. Yeast is included in the package.  After you mix the dough you are supposed to let it rest about 20 minutes.

We were very happy with the outcome. It tasted like real pizza and it did rise which is a feat in and of itself. I was happy with the texture, which was a bit doughy (how we like it!), but it you like yours crisper, just make it thinner. I think it was just as good as the GF pizza mix I’ve picked up at a local store (can’t recall the brand!), so I will probably stick with that since there is no shipping required! If you’re unsure about a brand, you can trust this one and if it was available locally I would buy it.

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