Salad

Salad

Afternoon tea is one of my most favorite things in the whole world. However, just about every item included is a hotbed of gluten. I thought I would never have another one that I didn’t make myself. Until now! The White Linen Tea House in Wheatfield, NY serves a gluten free afternoon tea. Not only do they serve one, but it was spectacular.

We made reservations, although there were some free tables, so it might not be 100% necessary. The tea house is situated next to a huge antique barn and another shop, so you can not only have tea, but you can shop. The tea house itself sells a few gift items as well.

I went with a friend on a recent Saturday. They open at 11 and we arrived at 11:30. The tea house is a

Three Tiered Afternoon Tea

Three Tiered Afternoon Tea

former farmhouse with several small rooms with tables. The decor is beautiful. The room we were in had a mantel that was decorated, a bench made out of an old iron bed head board, a wall of antique portraits, and a glass case filled with antique porcelain hands. Elegant, fun, and girly.

I ordered the gluten free tea for $29.99 which includes a salad, 4 crustless sandwiches, 2 scones with clotted cream and 4 little desserts as well as a pot of tea of your choice (and there are pages and pages of choices). My friend had the regular tea for $25.99 which came with the regular versions of everything I had. Her scones were a tad bigger, as were her desserts, but I have no complaints. Our server was kind enough to point out to me the description on the menu of exactly what would be included in my tea and told me to let her know if there were any other food items in it that I could not eat. She also asked me if I was celiac or intolerant, so it is clear there is a lot of thought and care put into this.

The tables have timers on them so you know when your tea is properly steeped. We were served with a rose patterned china. Our pots of tea came first and we enjoyed sipping our tea. Next up was salad. Mine was a lovely mixed green salad with sliced strawberries and dried cranberries and fruity vinaigrette.

I nearly fell off my chair when my three-tiered main course arrived. I started with the crust-less sandwiches. The gluten-free bread was excellent – not any store bought brand I know. It was fluffy and appeared homemade. My sandwiches were egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and cucumber-dill with cream cheese. The sandwiches were all fresh and delicious. The egg salad had pickles in it which I loved. The tray also contained some small pieces of melon, pineapple, and grapes for color, but I ate those as well.

Next I enjoyed my scones. One was cinnamon and I think the other was cranberry. Both were flaky and tender and the clotted cream was fabulous. My desserts included a lemon bar, cheesecake bar, chocolate chip cookie and chocolate mousse bar. I ended up taking home about half of what was on my tiered platter and it was my lunch the next day, so that makes the price much more palatable.

Our server was friendly and attentive and also did not hurry us when it was clear were intended to take our time nibbling and chatting. It was very relaxed and comfortable.

This was the PERFECT gluten-free outing and made me feel wonderful – cared for, well-fed, and understood. I had no gluten fear. I highly recommend this. I am going to make this a regular yearly event with my friend, who also enjoyed her regular version of the afternoon tea.

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.

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.

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!

 

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.

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!

 

 

 

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.