Friday, August 29, 2014

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Here is another place that you don't have to twist my arm to go for dinner Carrabba's Italian Grill. Technically they have 2 locations in the Chicagoland area.... Just not near me, so we don't get here very often. It was semi close to where I worked at my last job, so we could get there a little more often. Now for an Italian restaurant they do not do gluten free pasta, but that's OK, they have enough delicious items on the menu to make up for it.

My favorite dish is the Chicken Bryan all dishes come with a veggie on the side, in lieu of the pasta. You get a choice of soup or salad as a starter to your meal. The chicken soup is good, and can be served without the pasta. I do normally get the soup, I opted for salad the last time, because I was craving an appetizer with my meal.

I had to get the shrimp scampi, that alone I could give 5 stars to. The difference from the regular portion is it's served without the little garlic toasts. I may bring some Glutino bagel chips the next time and eat that with it, I think it would go very well!

My Favorite dish, Chicken Bryan who can turn down chicken with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes! When I ordered the server make sure to note it on the order that it was gluten free, and when the other server brought out the plate she announced again that it was gluten free before placing it down. That makes me feel extra comfortable that the chef was told and the meal was prepped properly. I was told come early 2015 their grill base will be updated so EVERYONE can get the grill base, that it will be made with Rice Flour instead of regular wheat flour. Little victories for the gluten free peeps!

I give them 4 dragonflies, their menu is very detailed on how to adjust items to make them gluten free, and the servers will re-iterate that information back to you when you place the order. They seem to really take care in the prep and presentation of the food when they bring it out to serve you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mago's Cantina

A friend recommended checking out Mago’s Cantina one day, because she saw the Gluten Free listings on the menu. She loved the food and told me to give it a try. I kept trying to get around to it, but being all the way out in Bollingbrook, it was a bit far for me to travel, just for dinner, and none of my friends lived over that way anymore. I Overheard there was a great Mexican place in downtown Arlington Heights I should check out. When I pulled up the menu online I saw that it was the same place my friend recommended. So we decided to check it out.
What a cute place! The one in Arlington Heights is attached to the Metropolis performing arts theater, making it a great place for dinner if you are there to see a show. There is free parking right around the corner, and there are a bunch of places to grab a drink or ice cream after dinner. In the winter, North School Park, right across Northwest Highway has some really pretty light sculptures they put up, that are in walking distance to go and enjoy.
I was delighted with the menu selection. The menu lists out what items are naturally gluten free, or can be modified to be gluten free. There were a lot of choices. Right away when you are seated you are given chips and 3 different types of salsa, which they warn you right away one of the salsas does contain peanuts.  They have a guacamole cart they come around and will make it for you right at your table.

Note the Gluten free rice is White, the regular is orange.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to get, so my boyfriend and I opted to split a couple dishes. When I told the waitress my meal needed to be made gluten free, she right away told me they would modify the rice that comes with the beans so that it was safe. I would have never thought the rice at a Mexican restaurant would be an issue!

After we ordered a mariachi band started to walk around and play music, it added to the ambiance.
We were so full after eating so much food, but we had to get dessert because they had flan! Honestly I’d never had flan until recently, so I was excited to try theirs. The flavor changes throughout the year, but it is still gluten free. Over all they were a bit pricy, but the ambiance and the food made it totally worth it. Recently they opened another location up in South Barrington; I’ve recommended all my friends who live up there to go try it! It’s worth it.

Flan for dessert
I give them 4 dragonflies. The menu is extensive on what they can offer. If you talk to the wait staff they will definitely take care of you for gluten freeness, and they have dessert options! I love dessert options.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pizzaria Uno

A Chicago Original that is a slice of home for anyone from Chicago - Pizzeria Unos. I've been to the original Uno's in Chicago once in my non gluten free days. I've been to a couple locations for their gluten free options, and discovered they do a good gluten free dish. The first thing I got there for a gluten free meal was their pizza, I mean Pizzeria Uno is known for pizza, I'd hope a gluten free one would live up to the Chicago standards. It's comparable. Now sadly it's no deep dish, but hey thin crust saves room for dessert.  We do laugh when we eat at a Pizzeria Uno's when we are out of town, since well, we can have Chicago Style pizza anytime we want!

This press release from 2009 explains the difference in the gluten free from a regular Uno's pizza, that the French Meadow crust are round and thin crust, not a flat square crust like the regular or deep dish.

They don't have a wide variety of pizza options, but the basics are covered. The nice thing about their menu is there is more than just pizza. So you have options no matter what mood you are in.

Recently while traveling we noticed a Uno's Bar and Grill sign near our hotel. We decided it was a good dinner to order in. I was very impressed that all our food was in one back, and the gluten free pizza was packed all by itself. Yay; They understood!

One of my other favorite dishes there is the Baked Chicken Spinoccoli, how can you go wrong with chicken, two types of cheese, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, garlic... Yum! They have more than just broccoli as a side, so I am willing to stop here for a quick meal since everyone can find something they like.

Like any pizza place there is always open flour in the kitchen that makes things a bit dicey. The food is tasty and when you ask for gluten free the first thing they do is ask if it's an allergy. I feel like they do really understand what they are doing, especially since the menu that have has been in place since before 2009. So it's not just trendy to sever gluten free here. I give them 4 dragonflies, and will be visiting again.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lou Malnanti's Gluten free crust

Growing up in Chicago, you can’t go without having a Lou Malnati’s pizza. Though I will make a huge Chicago sin… I was never a huge Deep Dish Pizza fan…. (Please don’t kill me!)
I was never a fan of so much dough. Maybe it was an early premonition that I was intolerant??? Who knows, but I was also fair weathered on it. But a family tradition was to go to Lou’s during Christmas time because their Schaumburg and Elk Grove locations were decorated real nice, and they would have Christmas Carolers singing. When I was diagnosed, right before the Holiday’s we really had to dive into how to deal with holiday’s before anything else. Our holiday tradition was still a go, because we heard they did a crust-less pizza, for carb and gluten free. I was game, and my dad said he’d go in on it too. 

It was interesting… They use a sausage patty for deep dish pizzas unless you tell them you want sausage crumbles. (Honestly I don’t know anyone who likes the sausage patty on their pizza, but that’s another story.) They used that Sausage patty as the crust for baking the deep dish GF pizza. It was tasty, but it totally gave me indigestion due to how greasy the sausage was.  I did like the lake of dough it was probably a better way for me to enjoy a deep dish pizza, but none the less, it was not ranking on the top of my Must go back and have again meter.  Some time passed, 2 years roughly and my boyfriend told me he’d heard through his gluten free friends that Lou’s was now doing a GF pizza, not just sausage crust gf pizza. I told him when we are near a Lou’s I’ll try it out.

I was dog sitting a couple weeks ago (I’ve been so busy I’ve fallen behind writing right away!) and my friend lives right by the Lou’s in Schaumburg, so we decided to go check it out. Right on the menu it states they have a 9” gluten free crust that is made in a dedicated area, so it’s safe, but could be contaminated because the pizza is prepped in a shared area…. At least they disclosed that information. I informed our server I was gluten intolerant if they could please be as careful as possible, I’d appreciate it. The restaurant can get Super super busy, but we went at 8:00 on a Wednesday night, not busy so that probably helped. We each got one to try. (He’s so sweet trying out gluten free things with me to know what I’m eating, and to give me his opinion on how it tastes.)

We both got Spinach and mushrooms on top, it was super tasty! The crust was a little thicker than I expected, and it was a corn base, it was Really good. It didn’t taste like Cardboard, it wasn’t tough, it was super crispy, I liked it! I could only eat half, so I got the rest to go, and took it for lunch for the next day, it rewarmed well, and was just as good the 2nd time. He devoured his like he hadn’t eaten in days, and kept telling me how good it was. I live near a Lou’s to go location, so our next trial is going to be to see if they do the GF crust there, and if they will take extra caution as well when preparing it. I haven’t gotten that adventurous yet. I give them 3 dragonflies, they have a great pizza, I would like to see a few more options on the menu, and I do wish they had a separate area to prep the pizza’s, or pre-make and freeze them, though that would limit topping options. Maybe they could make the crust, add sauce and freeze. Then they could add the toppings as ordered… Pipe dreaming there. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yolk Cafe Can Do Gluten Free

Yolk Cafe, I think Yolk might be my favorite place to eat in the city. They have a lot of great options for everyone, and are a BYOB establishment so you can bring your own champagne to do mimosa's if you'd like. They have flavored creamer on the table if you want to do coffee, so on the drink from they're fun. Menu wise they have scramblers, which you can do with egg whites, for no extra charge. You can do skillets, but they don't have any carb options. They don't do any pancakes, waffles, or that type of thing. They do have the option for fruit on the side if you don't want potatoes. If you do want potatoes Make Sure your server knows you need to eat gluten free. The seasoning for the potatoes has a small amount of gluten in it. But they can make you potatoes fresh without any seasoning. 

They are a very popular place to eat, so if you get there in prime breakfast time you will have to wait for a table, so be prepared to wait for a table. It will give you plenty of time to look over the menu. The one in Streeterville is a quick 10 minute walk from Navy Pier, and the one on Michigan is a quick walk over to the Art Institute. If you are planning a day in the city these are a couple of great easy to walk to options. I even found out now there is a location at Ogilivee Transportation center! After talking to that location they said the potatoes don't contain gluten.... A former employee who had Celiac Disease use to eat them all the time, so they knew they were safe....

Personally - I'd just ask to be certain, maybe the other locations use a different seasoning, the staff here told me no, that they were confused. So it goes as a reminder, Always ask before assuming an item will be ok.

I give them 3 dragonflies still because you do have to be careful with the potatoes, which are amazing, and they don't have any safe toast/pancake options. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rackhouse Tavern, Basically Gluten Free

Another find, through Find Me Gluten Free, that came with some excellent reviews, wasn't exactly what I expected, especially their service. Rack House Kitchen and Tavern I've driven past it a few times the last year or so, but never stopped in. On weekends the lot is always packed so I figured it was good. It was a bit disappointing because it was only OK. Their gluten free adult beverages were really only ciders, there were no gluten free beers. 

The menu is marked for gluten free options, but only sort of... There are things on the menu that are gluten free, that aren't marked, and some items that I questioned. I asked our server who I felt like was going to beat me if I asked any more questions, she was so annoyed. I stopped asking questions, and settled on a salad. But since I was at a place for BBQ I wanted some BBQ with my salad, why not, if it's safe?!

I ordered the BBQ Brisket with my chopped salad. Since she confirmed the brisket was gluten free. Well I don't know if the sauce for it is or not, since mine came without it. The meat itself was lean, but kind of cold, and dry. The sauce was needed on this one for sure. The avocados were tough, so really it wasn't that great of a salad in the big picture, but sadly I rate food more on, did I get sick or not... I didn't get sick. Did I annoy the heck out of the staff because I asked about the gluten free designation on the menu, yes. Did it annoy me that some salads were marked GF but others weren't? Yes. I was lost how they had such good gluten free reviews on Find Me Gluten Free.

I can honestly only give them 2 dragonflies, I was having a good day, it didn't bring me down, and make me hate having Celiac Disease, because they were so annoyed with my gluten questions, but I didn't have the warmest fuzziest feeling for a place that was rather dead, and our server was MIA most of the time, I had an underwhelming meal. Everyone else liked their food in our group, so I guess if you're not gluten free, this place might actually be decent. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant

Lady Gregory's in Andersonville - One word - Awesome! Such a great variety of items on them menus for both gluten free and regular. The story of the restaurant is that while they were building a fire gutted the restaurant and they had to start from scratch decorating and furnishing the inside. They came back from the ashes to build a great place to eat.

My boyfriend first heard about Lady Gregory's and told me we had to check it out, our waitress was very well informed on gluten free foods and food prep, it was very comfortable. My main problem was choosing what I wanted to eat. It's a great problem to have, when dining out, since it doesn't happen often! Her and I chatted for a good 10 minutes on how the kitchen staff is well trained in allergies, and that they work hard to keep each meal safe. She assured me that ordering off the gluten free menu I'd be taken care of. I'll be honest, I saw the flag on the menu, but it wasn't until my dish arrived, that I understood. Each Gluten free item was marked!

My first selling meal was lobster mac and cheese, followed by the flat breads, portobello mushroom sandwich, chicken sandwiches, and this time I tried their Parmesan crusted grilled cheese sandwich, and sweet potato fries. Honestly if we lived closer, or parking was a bit easier, I think I'd probably eat here weekly. They have a variety of beers, wines and ciders for everyone. They have about 5 GF beers on the menu, which again was a nice selection, and not the norm.

Yes those are gluten free appetizers!
Over all they get four dragonflies, I'd like to give them 5, but they aren't a dedicated facility. They do a great job of keeping things separate, but like any place that makes both regular and gluten free, mistakes can happen, luckily I haven't experienced that.