Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gluten-Free Menu Restaurants

I haven't been on-line lately because of a hideous virus on my computer. I believe it has been killed and I have survived to write again! I got some lovely bread in the mail today from Mariposa Bakery and I can't wait to try it and review it........more to follow!

Let's talk about several restaurants that boast gluten-free menus. First up is P. F. Changs. They recently expanded their gluten-free menu and it is just delightful! Now of course you all know how wonderful their lettuce wraps are, right?? Well, you could start with that, but then I am always too full to eat the main event! Frankly, if I were to order them that would have to be my entree.........sigh! I have tried several of their gluten-free offerings and have been pleased with all of them. Let's begin with one of my all time favorites........Philip's Better Lemon Chicken. It has a lovely, light dusting of corn starch (I am guessing) and it is paired with a magnificent citrus infused sauce. It is not too sweet, nor too lemony and has just enough tartness. It comes nicely paired with beautiful fresh broccoli. You can get brown rice with it, which I always do because it has a little more nutritional value than plain rice. The sauce is "just right" to me and you don't feel like you are weighed down by a heavy calorie laden meal. I also tried their Salmon Steamed with Ginger........ahh yes, it is light and airy and full of flavor! It comes with fresh asparagus, tiny little sweet tomatoes, bok choy, green onions and shitake mushrooms. It is a completely new take on salmon for me and I absolutely loved it! Very fresh and lively........a real winner! Now no review would be complete without discussing the Chocolate Dome Dessert............yes it is actually a small dome! This flourless glimpse of heaven is served with fresh berries and a dazzling raspberry sauce. One spoiler not order this without plans of sharing it with at least 2 to 3 other people. It is so decadently rich and gooey, but there is no chance that after having a meal there that you could even begin to make this dessert disappear on your own. The richness of it will take you me on this..........but what a way to go!!!

Now let's move on to Roja Mexican Grill. Ahhh, what a delicious journey across the border and the delights that await you are well worth the trip. First, if you are into margaritas this is the place to be. They have more brands of tequila that you can count and they are all cleverly displayed on the sparkly shelving in the bar. Their margaritas are top notch and they have such an array of choices you might want to stick with the original margarita out of sensory overload. Now let's talk about the important stuff.........the food. I had the Al Carbon tacos and they were magnificent. (I can't remember the last time I thought a taco was magnificent, but I assure you these are.) They are overflowing with a seared chicken breast, achiote, orange juice (yes, orange juice), red onion, fresh cilantro and cotija cheese. The gluten-free version is served on corn tortillas and they are not deep fried. They are an authentic version of a corn tortilla that is soft and tender and is just a perfect match with the filling........this gets a giant thumbs up with me! They have great gluten-free nachos and a Create Your Own Layer Dip that is interesting and fun to mix and match ingredients. Everytime I have eaten at Roja I am struck with the same thought.........the offerings are fresh and not the same run-of-the mill Mexican fare.

Last, but certainly not least is Ryan's Bistro. One of my favorite dining spots for many reasons. Ryan, offers a very pleasing gluten-free menu. I have waxed on rhapsodically in a different entry about how I am possibly addicted to his BBQ Chicken, Cheddar, and Bacon Pizza. It is just awe-inspiring in my book and you know how hard it is to find a good gluten-free pizza! He also has a Spinach Artichoke Pizza and a Steak & Mushroom Pizza. But Ryan also offers great gluten-free entrees that are very refreshing and exciting! His Salmon Pasta makes me want to dance around the restaurant in pure joy in appreciation of all the flavor it has. It is a grilled salmon over pasta with a lemon dill caper cream sauce that is just divine and so satisfying in a kind of "I can't believe this is gluten-free" way! He also has an awesome Cioppino......the lovely soup of clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops in a delicately but hearty tomato Miso broth. Now again we must talk dessert. My two favorite desserts of all time are Bananas Foster and Creme Brulee'. Ryan has Bananas Foster on his menu and it does not disappoint. Of course in true New Orleans Style, they make it right at your table complete with the infamous flaming show! But of course the taste is the true test and it passes with flying colors. And they also make a fresh strawberry version that is just as wonderful and satisfying.

These three restaurants all have their gluten-free menus online and I have only scratched the surface of the great items they offer!

Now there are many other restaurants in Omaha that offer gluten-free menus, but these are just a few and the list is growing daily. The fact that they have a gluten-free menu however, does not excuse you from deligently asking questions to make sure your server and chef know the "celiac do's and don'ts". The truth is, it is in their best interest to make sure you are not contaminated and that you have a pleasant experience and will be a repeat customer.

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