Monday, July 24, 2017

Jimmy's Charhouse Elk Grove Village, Gluten Free

Jimmy’s Charhouse has 3 locations around Chicagoland, in the suburbs. We happen to live near one of their locations in Elk Grove Village. I had reached out to them via email, on their website to ask if they did gluten free. But got no response. I was pretty annoyed. Why have a contact us button on your site if you don’t respond to people who contact you???? But that aside, a friend was there and said he saw gluten free options on the menu. So we thought we’d give it a go. I mean when the weather is nice I could walk here! 

From my understanding they have new owners who recently took over. The inside is very nicely decorated, very fancy. The crowd was an older crowd. I did feel a bit young on a Sunday Evening there. 

They had a nice little gluten free listing, which had appetizers that could be modified to be gluten free, and menu listing for a variety of items including steak, chicken, and ribs. I went with a steak which the server right away said “oh gluten free, you’ll need the baked potato” Side dish listings were not on the gluten free menu. But our server was educated.

My dad said he wanted the ribs but didn’t want the mess. The server offered to cut them, by bone, so they were easier to eat! He said they were wonderful tasting. My steak was good, the only issue was my potato was a bit under-cooked, but the steak was good.

I wanted to give them 4 dragonflies, they have a nice bar area to hang out at. They had a handful of appetizer items and a variety of dishes to choose from. The staff is friendly and courteous so it was a very pleasant meal. Also if you’re there for a birthday the dessert is Ice cream!

One thing that was a turn off upon going there for lunch, which is when they're busiest, how slow the service was.  My burger arrived with french fries on the plate, Upon telling the manager that it was ordered gluten free, he apologized and brought out a new burger with a potato on the side, not french fries. That made me realize they're better for dinner cause it's less busy, but mistakes happen and I ended up taking my meal to go, because it took so long to come out a 2nd time. So overall it's 3 dragonflies for them. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

rQ Barbecue

Another win for Find Me Gluten Free. We found rQ Barbecue while in Joliet for a NASCAR event. rQ is technically in Shorewood, but that's right next to Joliet. We weren't sure at first, though it had several stand out reviews. We got there a bit later, and kept our fingers crossed they would be open.

Lucky for us they are open to 10pm, every day, so showing up at 9:25 was perfectly OK. I was staring at the menu board and saw the words Gluten Free and got excited. The girl taking the orders was excited to tell me all about how they use Turano bread and wraps. So I had to try it out. All their sauces are gluten free, and their meats. Several side dish options including the cheesy corn. So I was set. I got a buffalo Chicken Wrap.

They were great and warmed the wrap in foil so that it didn't get contaminated on the grill. They also gave me the options of toppings and additional sauces to add that were GF. Over all the food was good and it was great it was a quick stop place that did gluten free and it wasn't that expensive either. I give them 4 dragonflies for their selection, options and staff knowledge on gluten free.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dickey's BBQ Up and Coming

Dickey’s – a Chain of BBQ places expanding to more and more areas with over 500 stores in the US. I’d never heard of them, but saw they could do gluten free so we thought we’d check them out while up near Kenosha. If you go online you’ll find their allergen listing showing what is safe, including all meats and sauces, and which sides are safe, pending availability of items. Over all their meats are smoked on site and are super tender, their sauce is WOW! It packs a kick, even their sweet sauce will wake you up. 

Their layout is similar to Real Urban BBQ where you go through a line to order your items, they’re placed on a simple metal tray and then you take that to your seat after paying. It’s nice because you can make sure things like the complementary rolls are not placed on your tray!

I like the variety of options that they have for their food items, and so many that that are gluten free. They don't have a regular gluten free listing, but they have an allergen listing on their website you can reference when ordering. They don't have any gluten free breads, but nothing will stop you from bringing your own bread and ordering items as a plate. The meats come without sauce, so you can choose which way you want your meat. They have an option for a family style plate where you can choose items to share with others. Or you can do your own plate if everyone can't agree on a set of meat or sides. 

Each item is in it's own container so as they dish them out they are limited to only the spoon in their own container. 

They get 4 Dragonflies. I do hope they keep expanding into more markets, their food is tasty, but make sure you're good with some spicy food, because their sauce and sausage has a major kick to it. They don't have any bread options, and you do have to remember to tell them to NOT put the bread on your plate, but otherwise they are great for cross contamination. I look forward to going back.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Just Because They Have A "Gluten Free" Menu Doesn't Mean It's For You

Just because they have a gluten free menu doesn’t mean you should eat there. 

Say what?

That’s right, I know my rule is to only eat places that advertise gluten free, or have a gluten free menu, but there is another level to this, not all places with a gluten free menu warrant dinning at them. I’ve experienced this first hand, and heard others stories as well. “The menu said gluten free and I got sick” It happens, it really does, they can’t guarantee things won’t get contaminated, and some places do a better job of safe guarding things than others do. For me chain restaurants are the hardest. Corporate can boast a great menu, but if it’s not executed properly at the location level, it means nothing. Plus we have to remember gluten is not the top of their priority list in any restaurant, (unless it’s dedicated gluten free!). That being said, some chains do a better job of hiring and training for food allergies than others do.
Because of this factor I’m a self-titled Restaurant Snob. It can be hard with a large group, or with children, or if you’re traveling, even on a business lunch to choose where to eat. That’s where I end up getting crafty with what I order, and what I always have on me. 2 occasions I found croutons under my lettuce on the plate directly when ordering a salad, at two different locations. I have never in 20 years of ordering salads encountered that until I asked for a “gluten free salad, no croutons no bread.”
We all know the places we’ve been where they have great service so we keep going back. Other’s the service isn’t good we don’t go back, for eating GF it’s no different, other than I feel we hold a higher standard of good service. Personally places I’ve gotten sick, it’s hard for me to go back, that level of trust is broken and the thought of eating there make me nauseous and anxious.
The other night we ate at Olive Garden as part of a group party. Olive Garden does list a GF menu, but the number of complaints I hear from people out way the good experiences. I personally ate there 2 years ago and had the worst, saltiest steak of my life, and only ate a few bites before discontinuing my meal. This time the server flat out told me “We can’t guarantee anything but here’s the list of items you can order from.” I got a salad, no croutons. It seemed the safest option after hearing people say the pasta that’s cooked in a dedicated bag showed up with gluten pasta mixed in. Or the chicken came with bread crumbs on the plate… I’ll pass. Honestly not worth it. Yes it’s great they have a menu, but what good is it, if they can’t properly execute it??
Many say they have good experiences at Red Robin, they have gluten free buns and French fries (at most locations), so I was taken back when the manager brought me out a plate of Fried Chicken when I ordered grilled chicken, gluten free. He told me while laughing that I’d enjoy this better than what I ordered. I took the time to ask for the gluten free menu, tell the server it was an allergy, and asked if the fries were in a dedicated fryer. Why would you even think I’d prefer some Glutenful fried chicken instead? Personally I won’t go back, I’m glad others do well there.
We only go places with good reviews and word of mouth. I scrutinize every menu. I’ve learned just cause it says Gluten Free menu doesn’t mean it’s safe. Denny’s boasts a gluten free menu but from their own customer service, the English muffins are made in a shared toaster. That information is not noted on the menu though. If you stop in for a meal without beforehand researching it looks safer than it really is. It's frustrating, and it makes it hard on us trying to explain why we're not eating with everyone else, but it's what we have to do. 
For me this means making sure we frequent the places that do a good job and tip well. But always have something on hand in case things go awry, I always have snacks to hold me over until I have a safe option.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Marino Wood Fired Pizza

We found Marinio's in Wood Dale, from a flyer that showed up at our house one day saying "GLUTEN FREE" on the front. They do a lot of advertising in the area, so we thought we'd check it out. Since my curiosity was sparked we went to check it out with mom and dad one day. They Loved their daily options for dinner. (Mom loved the glutenful Beef Sandwich on Garlic bread). They are casual, you order at the counter and they bring it to your table. They have a cute back room and ample seating.

We've been there a bunch of times now. It's our quick and easy dinner option when we have family and friends over. They offer a variety of GF options from Salads, Pasta, Pizza, and sandwiches on GF pitas. I will say ordering GF does take longer and with a group of people it can be a bit annoying but the food is so good it's hard to not love the place.

I haven't had anything bad here yet. I do like they can do sandwiches on a gluten free pita, I do wish they had some gluten free appetizers or side dishes. But I do like the salads they offer, they are pretty tasty. Plus the pasta with vodka sauce is a favorite of mine. Their pizza is pretty good, though I think I like White Cottage's pizza a bit more.

They have a second location in Elk Grove that is probably closer to us, but much smaller. Both have the same menu options and both are great for GF options in the area. I've actually talked my work into making them our preferred vendor for pizza lunches!

They get 4 dragonflies in my book. Great food, Great service, never gotten sick there, and everyone I take there loves the place!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicken Tater Crockpot

  • One 32 Ounce Bag of Frozen tater tots
  • 6 slices of your favorite bacon
  • 3 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut into 1 inch Cubes.
  • 2 cups shredded Cheese blend of your choice
  • 2/3 cup of Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Adobo Seasoning

  1.  Chop up the uncooked Chicken, and sprinkle with Adobo Seasoning
  2. Fry Bacon until Cooked, Remove to a paper towel lined Plate. Crumble into small pieces and set it aside.
  3. Spray some non-stick cooking Spray, (Make sure it's cooking spray, not baking spray so it's gluten free) inside the crockpot
  4. Pour about half the Frozen Tater tots into the crock pot, and spread them across the bottom. Top the potatoes with 1/3rd of the cheese and 1/2 the crumbled bacon.
  5. Place uncooked chicken on top of the cheese and potato layer. Top chicken with more of the cheese, being careful not to use all of it yet.
  6. Pour the remaining tater tots over the chicken and cheese layer. Top with Remaining bacon and cheese. 
  7. Pour the 2/3rd cup of milk over the top of  the dish.
  8. Set the crock pot to either HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours. Or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, serve warm.
Personally something I did on this recipe didn’t work as intended. I only say that because it came out so salty tasting! I had added some low sodium Adobe seasoning to the chicken, but I don’t think that was the issue. Maybe it was the bacon I used.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Centro Cafe Milwaukee

On a recent trip up to Milwaukee we wanted to find something different, to try for dinner. While searching online Centro Cafe came up. It met my normal criteria, new, different, and a swanky little place. I read a few bad reviews about poor service at peak meal times. Since it was a bit later in the evening I decided to ignore those reviews and give it a try. I was very glad we did.

Right away we noticed the menu was clearly marked with little GF's for the gluten free options. They had everything from Appetizers to Desserts. They even had New Grist beer! I honestly stared at the menu for some time. So it was good that our server was a bit backed up on coming back to our table. They had too many good options. Incidentally my boyfriend ordered gluten free just because it sounded so good.

My boyfriend ordered the butternut squash lasagna. Not something I would normally order, but I tried some of his and it was tasty. I was super stoked that they offered gluten free garlic bread as an option. It was so good. I really wish I could replicate this at home.

I went with the Pasta Pomodoro, with the gluten free pasta substituted. It was tasty, and it came topped with cheese! It was a great tasty combination with the beer and garlic bread, it was a wonderful meal. The atmosphere was cute and cozy. It seemed that they had a back porch that you could dine on as well to expand the capacity. Everything about this place was unique and cute, and definitely worth a visit to check them out!

I give them 4 Dragonflies for pure cuteness of a place to try. Their menu was huge and had a lot of great options. I really liked this place, and wish it was closer to home. I will go back when in the area, and really hope others go check it out. Food was great, service was a bit slow, but it allowed us to really take in the atmosphere and observe the whole place.