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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Smokin' T's Bar-B-Q

Trying to figure out what to do for dinner one night, my brother commented he wanted wings. I  told him I'd see what I could figure out... I found us wings! Though it was an adventure, but he's gotten use to dining out with me = adventure... So we wandered off to Long Grove.

Smokin' T's Bar-B-Q is on 22 in Long Grove, it's kind of tucked away where you wouldn't find it right away. I was glad we did. Smokin T's owners are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, and have over 40 years of experience together working in hospitality. Their experience shows in their business. Ok we're a bit blonde and couldn't find the entrance when we walked up... Who would have thought the entrance wouldn't face the road! It faces the swamp it over looks in the back. Due to the horrible stagnant heat, and the mosquito's being like vampires the last few days, we ate inside.

Back to the wings, so one of the first things on the menu was wings, so we did accomplish our goal finding wings. So we got an order of wings, I got a wedge salad, and my brother got the meat sampler. I asked if the fries and chips were cooked in dedicated oil, the gal behind the counter said, yes, normally they are, but they'd had brunch that day, so the fryer was contaminated. (tear...)

First off the wings are winners, they are smokey and don't even need sauce on them. They came with an Alabama sauce, which was really good too, but not needed for the wings. My brother kept raving how good and smokey the meats were. All the sauces are made in house and I was assured they were all gluten free, all the sauces were tasty. I really liked mixing the regular and the sweet and spicy. Though I probably could have just kept eating the Alabama sauce! The salad was good, and didn't show up with croutons.

I was impressed with the staff knowledge of gluten,and what options were safe. Minus the items that are served on bread there is a good variety of options, including sauces that are safe. The sides were more questionable, but a hearty helping of wings and a side salad were fine by me. I give them 4 dragonflies. The place was kind of dead for a Sunday, but with the heat and the start of the holiday week I figure that was part of the reason for the lack of crowd. This place is a keeper on my list! Next time I'm going for the pulled pork nachos!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gluten Free Rum Cake

I swear I'm not an alcoholic. I swear! I just like to bake with liquor! I never made this cake pre-gluten free, but one day my brother started to nag me about rum cake and rum balls. So I decided to see how hard it was to make a rum cake. It's easy!

I am kind of picky about what mix to use for this because the original recipe I adapted this from calls for a 18.5oz chocolate cake mix. Most of the GF mixes are smaller than that, more like 14-16oz mixes. I've found a couple that work well, Sof'ella, King Arthur, and Pamela's all have large enough mixes to use. 

A friend told me that I could probably do the same cake but with a white cake mix if I used white rum instead of spiced... I haven't tried it yet! 

Cake - 
18.5oz package chocolate Cake Mix
3.9oz package instant chocolate pudding (Not made)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup spiced or dark rum
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup spiced or dark rum
1/8 cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, grease a 10 inch bundt pan with either cooking spray (not baking spray it contains flour!) or butter. Place chopped nuts in the pan, (optional I've made it with and without the nuts).
With an electric mixer, mix together all the cake ingredients until batter is smooth. Pour the batter in slow and evenly.

Bake for 60 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and flip onto a plate for glazing.

Right before you take the cake out of the oven you'll make the glaze. For the glaze - in a sauce pan or soup pot mix the glaze ingredients together. Bring the mix to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. While the cake is still nice and warm and fresh out of the oven pour this mix over the top of the cake. Pour slowly so the glaze has some time to soak in.

Hopefully your bundt pan is not like the pan my mom gave me to use - from 50 years ago, and feels like it's 10lbs on it's own. Trying to flip and remove cake while still warm to apply glaze was a bit rough! If I was forewarned I would have started lifting some weights a week earlier.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tap House Grill Des Plaines Gluten Free

I really want to like this place! I do, I really do. But for my personal comfort with any restaurant I include customer service in my full review. If you can't treat your customers with respect, it makes me wonder how much you care about preparing the food safely.
Tap House Grill has been around the southwest suburbs of Chicago for some time now. Their newest location is in downtown Des Plaines, IL. Previously this location had a Cheeseburger in Paradise that had closed a couple years back. A lot of Des Plaines is vacant, the city is working on trying to revitalize the area, but it's a very slow process. I did notice reading menus online their other locations have varying menu's so be sure to check online for the location and if they have a gluten free menu. They may not!

We checked them out one day for lunch because they noted gluten free buns and several gluten free entree options. For the 5 of us at lunch our dismay was the 1.5 hour wait we had from the time we ordered our food, 3 burgers, a melt and mac and cheese. Only 1 gluten free burger in the bunch. Why such a long wait? They were still training the staff. (OK...)

We tried it another time to see if a few weeks they got their act together. Their menu is good, though some gluten free appetizers would be a good addition, since you're going to be sitting there forever once you order your entrees. Our server was very unaware of what salad dressings were gluten free, we ended up with a side of balsamic vinaigrette, which I wasn't a fan of. No other dressings are GF. They have gluten free buns for burgers and sandwiches, as well as 3 salads and a few entrees. No dessert options. our salads and soup came out about 5 minutes before our meal, not sure what took so long, since we didn't get any gourmet food on this round.

If dinner wasn't the longest slowest (OMG I was so hungry) meal waiting for our food I could have given them a higher rating, I could have moved up to a 3 dragonfly rating. But Waiting Forever, waiting on our server to come up with answers and waiting for her to ever show back up to the table was too much for me. Heck asking for ketchup if my brothers girlfriend actually waited for the ketchup to arrive before she started to eat he food would have been cold by the time she started.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ruth's Chris Gluten Free and Wonderful

One thing we look forward to each year is when Restaurant Week is happening. I discovered this year they do this in multiple cities too! It's a great way to try really high end places, and get a full 4-5 course meal for $33-$44 a person while trying some of the best entrees they offer. 

Beautiful Light fixtures
We always find a reason to hit up Ruth's Chris because they do fabulous steaks! If I had to choose one place to go for steak, they would be it. They have decent GF menu with some really tasty options. Though restaurant week gives you a Prix menu so you don't have all the gluten free options to choose from, they have at least one item in each section. The staff is very knowledgeable, it's one of the few places I don't worry about my food, because they are on top of their game.

The staff is knowledgeable on gluten free and very helpful on helping you pick out your menu items. Entrees are made on the plate they are delivered on so it's easy to keep items separate and gluten free. I ended up getting the Steakhouse Salad with Thousand Island Dressing, The Steak and Shrimp Combo, with a side of Mashed Potatoes and the Chocolate Sin Cake.OMG we had so much food! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I've driven past Panchero's a few dozen times. Each time I think, hmmm I wonder if it's any good. Upon a high recommendation from a friend I ended up there for dinner the other night. People need to stop using references such as "It's like Chipotle, but better." I don't think they realize Chipotle for someone with a gluten intolerance is kind of like heaven, and some of us almost live there when eating on the go! It was good, but no where as good as Chipotle.

I emailed them to confirm the safety of their products, they wrote back saying Everything, except for their homemade flour tortilla's were gluten free. Staring at the meat, I opted for a chicken rice bowl. If you told me 4 years ago I'd be picky and particular on the taste and texture of my rice, I'd have told you, you were crazy. I was eating this going, "I don't care for their rice"! It was too big and fluffy, and just didn't go with the meal. 

I did like the option to add queso to my rice bowl, it added a good flavor and texture, though it could have been a bit creamier, and not so thick, it was good. The meat was good, the extras were nice. I mentioned to the person who took my order that I had a gluten allergy. He reassured me that everything but the taco shells were safe, and that I would probably like their bowl option, which really is just like a Chipotle Burrito bowl.

They don't have a lot of locations around, and the food was good, but not as good as Chipotle, so they only get 3 dragonflies in my book. If the food had some more zest it would be something I'd look for. But it will be more of a, if it's there, we'll stop but not go out of our ways. 

Gluten Free Grilling Good Time

As the 4th of July approaches we come to one of my favorite times of year; BBQ season!

Myself, I love when my dad pulls the grill out of the garage, cleans it up and starts making burgers and steaks. He does a deep clean on the grill before the season ends, and then does a clean up checks all the lines, grates, makes sure it's in working order to start the season. When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, almost 4 years ago, I bought him my own cooking grate, and skillet top so that it made it easier to keep anything separate. The nice thing is there are so many GF grilling options, we don't have too many issues keeping things safe.

Sydney is a great helper with the grilling!
 Let's talk safe grilling and what you need to keep in mind -
  1. Make sure the grill surface is clean
    1. If you don't have time to make certain it's clean, lay down a piece of foil. We've cooked plenty of items this way, it's the best way to avoid a fire, or flare ups if you cook anything that might drip down into the fire. (plus it saves time when you're cleaning later!) 
  2. Safe seasonings
    1. Yes, seasonings can contain wheat, it's a great filler. Always check seasoning labels for additives and choose smart options. When in doubt, plain old salt and pepper season things well.
  3. Marinading items
    1. Again like seasonings they can contain gluten.. McCormick's has a whole line of GF products for marinating meats. 
    2. Beer is a big thing to marinate meat with. Make sure if you're at a friends BBQ that you check what they used to marinate the meat with. It might be off limits for you, since beer does not cook out of the meat.
  4. Hotdogs and burgers
    1. To keep the grill clean if you're doing burgers on your grill and you want to toast the not gluten free buns, lay them on the foil, again, keeps the grill clean, and safe for your continued use after the bbq,
  5.  Potato salad and coleslaw
    1. Again seems crazy but they can potentially hide wheat in here too. Unless you make and bring the sides question it. Even if it seems straight forward, ask! Your friend who said they made the salad might have cheated and picked up a 2lb container at the grocery store on the way over.
  6. Nice Cold Drinks
    1. We all know our tolerances best. In the US Caramel coloring is safe, so it leaves pop, as an option of a beverage to enjoy while BBQ'ing, a nice cold soda always feels so refreshing on the 4th. Gluten free beer, cider and wine are all options as well. 
    2. Going to a BBQ I try to bring my own GF Beer or Cider, the host might not be thinking to have enough cups on hand if they are assuming everyone will have beer, soda or bottled water, so you might be hard-pressed if you bring a bottle of wine. -
  7. Dessert 
    1. I love dessert, and you have so many options of what you can bring. Fresh Fruit, Jello, pudding, all safe items that are refreshing and not to heavy after a full day of eating.

All of this aside, grilling is a great way to stay GF safe. You can generally plan a full BBQ meal without worrying about having gluten items included in your menu.