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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Traverso's Naperville - Fried Chicken?!

Gluten Free Fried Chicken, YES! Where you ask?? Traverso's in Naperville. I'd heard this was a real possibility and had to check it out myself. The next question I had, was is it made in a dedicated fryer, the answer was yes. This got me super excited. Our  server was very versed in gluten free and was asking why we hadn't been there before. She shared my excitement of gluten free goodness. She kept telling me how good the pizza was. I told her maybe next time. I have 1 thing in mind with this trip!

I looked over the menu and there were a lot of good looking options. But I decided I was here for the chicken I was getting the chicken. They also had gluten free beer options on the beer list which was great, it was like a regular night out meal.

I got so excited looking at the menu I didn't notice my meal came with bread and a salad. They actually had gluten free baguette bread. It was so nice and warm and tasty. It came wrapped in foil so I did feel safe it wasn't contaminated. I was able to get a Caesar salad, no croutons and bread. I think I was as excited over the bread as I was the chicken. They brought me my own butter and I was happy. Ordering the meal I was slightly confused, but overwhelmed more than anything I realized. I was so happy the chicken was fried in it's own fryer I didn't think about the fact the French Fries would be in the same fryer, and opted for a baked potato. Next trip, I'm getting the french fries.

Everything was so tasty. I definitely was in food heaven, and couldn't finish all my food. My co-workers the next day kept telling me how good my left overs smelled, and were excited for me I found fried chicken. Not an everyday meal for sure. But a great treat that's worth the drive down to Naperville.

I give them 4 stars, and WILL BE BACK! The service was a bit slow, but other than that the food was fabulous and they were well versed in gluten free. My boyfriend ordered the ribs, but wasn't as impressed... He said he'd give a better review going with something that might be more of a signature dish next time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Easy Philly CheeseSteak Stuffed Peppers

I have to start of by saying I LOVE Steak-umms. I'm so glad I found out they are gluten free!! What's great about using Steak-umm's is how easy this meal was to make! It was pretty much a 30 minute meal, from start to finish.

2 Large peppers
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, chopped (Optional)
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 package of Steak’Umms
2Tbs olive oil OR
2 Tbs of unsalted butter
Dash of salt to taste
Dash of black pepper to taste 
Dash of Onion Powder 

 Set the Oven to 425 degrees. 

1 - Heat a frying pan with add the Olive Oil or butter, and minced garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is aromatic.
2 - Add the Mushrooms and Onions to saute for 10-12 minutes. 
3 - While the mushrooms are saute'ing cut off the top of your peppers and clear out the seed. If you're not as hungry, you could cut the peppers in half and make half portions of peppers.
4 - Once the Mushrooms are nice and soft add the Steak'Umm slices one by one, breaking them up into pieces as they get hot.
5 - Once the mixture is the amount of meat to mushroom consistency you want, turn off the burner.
6 - Sprinkle a layer of cheese in the bottom of the peppers, then layer 2 spoons of the mix on top, alternating between cheese and meat on each layer. 
7 - Finish the top layer with cheese and pop into your baking dish, and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Since the mixture is mostly cooked you'll only have to cook 15 minutes to soften the peppers and help melt the cheese mixture.
8 - Enjoy!

A look on the inside of doing a whole pepper. I feel like I could have added more steak, but this was still Very Filling, and so good. Any pepper will do the trick. The second time I made these I used Enjoya peppers. They are tasty and complimented the filling perfectly.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Le Peep Cafe Mount Prospect

Le Peep Cafe has been in Mount Prospect for a number of years. The last time I ate there was prior to my Celiac Diagnosis. Breakfast is always the hardest meal for me to find when eating out. There is such worry about shared grills, and pancake batter in the eggs, that I ultimately just stick to the places I know or make my own breakfast on the weekends. My dad pointed out Le Peep had a gluten free menu so we thought we'd check it out.

I was pleased to see they had a stand alone menu with a lot of options. They even called out on the menu that they had a dedicated gluten free waffle iron, which was impressive. I will say service is slow. We sat there quite a while before someone came over and asked us if we wanted a drink, and we weren't there during breakfast rush, we were certainly after the main rush.

Looking over the menu I was intrigued by several options. I ended up going with the egg sandwich since they actually had gluten free toast as an option. The sandwich turned out to be pretty tasty. I was pleased. I do want to go back and check out what else they have to offer. I wanted to know what the HomeSpun cakes were, but our waitresses lack of attention I opted not to ask any questions when she came back, and just order so we could get our meal!

I give them 3 Dragonflies based on poor service. Even after our waitress came over to get our drink order it seemed like forever before she came back again. I guess this is a good place when you don't have anything else on your agenda for the day. They did have a broad variety of breakfast options, and really fill a location void from my other normal breakfast restaurants. I am willing to go back, and make sure it's when I have a lot of time to sit and chat and hang out while dinning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Country House Restaurant

Country House Restaurant - This was an accidental find of a restaurant I’ve “technically” been to. We were driving by their Lisle Location and my mom went “Isn’t that a cute place. Do you think it’s expensive? Do you think they can do gluten free??” So I started to look them up. While at it I remembered that I’d eaten there, well a different location for the same restaurant. Prices were reasonable we went in and asked if they could accommodate gluten free, and the hostess said yes, so we gave it a try. Country House Restaurant has several locations in the South Western burbs of Chicago. I’d eaten at the Clarendon Hills location and really enjoyed the food. 

They had a cute patio out back, but in the direct blinding sun, we opted to eat inside. The waitress wasn’t the quickest, but she was polite and the service was good, when she remembered us. They weren’t super busy so that might have been part of the problem. When I ate at their other location they were super busy. I got a burger with the gluten free bun. The buns were from Sweet Ali’s in Hinsdale, IL, very close to where we were having dinner. 

I will say one thing I never buy at Sweet Ali’s is their buns, because they don’t include how to heat them after they are frozen. I’ve tried Toasting, Baking, Microwaving, even just leaving them on the counter and they always turn out gross! But usually when a restaurant uses them they seem to have the magic touch to make them turn out great. Not so much this time.

The bun for my burger was as hard as a rock. I tried cutting through it, it took some extra effort I was determined to try and eat the bun since it had a $2 up charge! I would have complained but our waitress went on an extended missing journey I gave up, and mulled my way through my now Bun’less burger to finish my meal. The burger itself was good, but nothing to rave about for sure. Sides were limited to Veggies or a side salad.

Their Menu says they’ve had Great burgers for 35 years, I can tell after this meal that it’s not based on their gluten free product! I give them 3 Dragonflies, but nothing more than that. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cassava Chicago

Cassava Chicago - A Completely GF restaurant that makes Empanadas! :) They also make Smoothies. Their menu has a variety of both savory and sweet Empanadas. Their menu is limited to these items, but they are tasty and worth a trip there. 

We went for a mix of breakfast and lunch style Empanadas, and Breakfast style, since we were there about lunch time. As well as we had to get smoothies. We're kinda nuts for smoothies. The dough was to die for! It's not a traditional Empanada dough like you would find in the grocery store. But it is tasty and a nice texture. It's very similar to a tapioca roll dough. They also sell their Empanadas and rolls frozen to go, which I am so picking up the next time I'm there. 

I generally like places with a lot of variety, but Cassava has 2 items technically and they do them really well. The lack of variety makes them perfect at the the items they do serve. Plus it keeps them from getting any Cross Contamination from making other items. They also sell their products around Chicagoland at Whole Foods and Sunset foods, if you don't want to travel to their store.

I can't wait to go back. I do give them 5 dragonflies for a great product, that you can eat in or carry out to make at home later. I do hope they can start to sell their products in more stores and maybe branch out of the Chicago area so that they can provide their products to more people who miss Empanadas! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Gluten Free Hard Root Beer Options

Hard Soda is the latest Drink Craze. If you don't know what hard soda is, it's an alcoholic beverage, made to mimic drinking different flavored soft drinks. So you would think the easy way to make these is to use the soda as the base, and add booze. The thing is most of these "root beers" are actually just flavored beer. Sadly that means they are NOT gluten free. Brands like Henry's Soda will respond to inquiries on Facebook to tell you NO it's not gluten free. Or Not Your Father's Rootbeer says they brew their Beverages with the best Malt you can find. But Neither say this on the bottle, which can be confusing to the typical gluten free consumer, because food products label if they contain gluten. Alcohol doesn't fall under the same labeling laws and do not have to disclose ingredients on the label. 

The same applies to Their other flavored options, Hard Ginger Ale, Hard Orange Soda, they are all malted beers with other spices and flavoring added. This drink craze is bringing more and more brands to join in to capitalize on the 'non-beer drinking' market who like the fluffier drinks that don't taste like beer. When actually they are drinking beer. The newest one I've seen in stores is Coney Island Hard Root Beer, this too is not Gluten Free.

That being said I've found a few options for Hard Rootbeer and Hard Ginger Ale that are Gluten Free and taste good too. 

Root Sellers has both a Root beer and Hard Ginger Ale/ Ginger Beer option in Gluten Free. The Root beer has a harsh taste at first more like sassafras than root beer, but I've come to like the taste. Their Ginger Beer really reminds me of Ginger Ale and goes down very smoothly. Grabbing a bottle of Tito's Handmade Vodka, this would be a great option for making a Moscow Mule!

Abita brewing just released a Hard Root beer as well that is gluten Free. I like the taste on this one better than the row hard, it really tastes like Root Beer, goes down smooth and easy. I'm going to have to make a Hard Root beer float again!

So what I've figured out is if it is a "hard" soda or root beer, if it is Gluten Free It will say so. If it doesn't say Gluten Free, It probably is not!

Henry's Hard Soda, Orange, or Ginger Ale are NOT Gluten Free.
Coney Island Brewing Hard Root beer is NOT Gluten Free.
Not your Father's Root Beer is NOT Gluten Free Either.

Yes they sound delicious but they are NOT Safe.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy Elephant Thai

A few months back we received a flyer at our house for a Thai restaurant in the area, Happy Elephant Thai. At the bottom of the menu it stated "Ask about our gluten free options". We thought about it, but as my norm, I was skeptical. I'm always worried about places that tend to use soy sauce, and if they realize that is a source of gluten. Plus I worry if there is a language barrier in any way.

We were looking at our options for dinner and decided let's try it. Worse case if it didn't feel safe Marino's is next door and we've eaten at the other location tons of times. With our back up plan in place we wandered out. The place is cute, only a handful of seats, and a cute little kitchen. The person seating everyone spoke good English so we decided to ask the Gluten Free questions. 

He explained that there were no appetizers, except lettuce wraps with some variation to the sauce. All the curry dishes were safe, and that the dishes in the center of the menu could be modified to be gluten free. They would remove the soy sauce they use, and substitute it with a vinegar, sugar mixture to make the sauce. I was a bit worried how that would taste. My boyfriend asked how I felt, if I was OK with eating there, or if I wanted to go. I told him I'd try it. I'm not a bit fan of curry, it was never in my diet growing up, so I ventured towards the Pad Thai, a standby favorite of mine. He went with a curry dish, as he loves curry. 

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Curry Dish with Pineapple Chicken and Potatoes
I tried some of his dish, which was rather satisfying and pretty tasty. It wasn't a traditional curry, it did have some coconut milk in it, and was easy on the taste buds. My pad Thai was wonderful. Knowing that they don't do gluten free soy sauce, I know to bring my togo packets of San J Tamari with me, but honestly I couldn't have been happier with my dinner.  

While sitting there the delivery driver came back for his next run, we asked how far they deliver they said 5 miles. Even more exciting we can get them to deliver!! I give them 4 dragonflies. They have a decent selection and can work with you to make gluten free options. They understand gluten free, and the food is tasty. You don't notice you're "missing" anything what-so ever for gluten.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tap House Grill - Plainfield

Tap house has multiple locations around the Chicago suburbs which are all franchised. We were down by Joliet so we tried the Plainfield location. They were packed around 9:30 on a Saturday night. I was shocked how busy they were. They had a few gluten free call outs on the menu, including a gluten free burger bun. 

They have several locations, and with each each location also comes a different menu and different gluten free options. Their selection was different than the selection at Des Plaines, where I'd eaten before. The one thing in common, the gluten free side, was a salad. They did offer Two Brothers Prairie Path which is a gluten removed beer, brewed locally which is very good.

When we went I was not feeling good. A combination of a LONG day out and a cold were making me more than miserable, and very hungry. I spoke to the waitress about gluten free, I wish she'd stop standing across the table for 6 which we were seated at because I couldn't shout over all the music, so she had to keep asking "What? Can you repeat that...." I was worried when my meal showed up because the bun was so "normal" tasting I though they brought out the wrong bun. The manager was able to confirm that I had the gluten free bun. The food was fabulous! I had a chicken salad sandwich, which had a little gluten free marker next to it. 
I give them 3 dragonflies. Mostly for a selection of appetizers and sides. I would have gone with a small appetizer for my meal because I wasn't hungry and was more tired and sick. But no such luck. Also more than a salad would be awesome. But they did have Gluten Free Beer options so that helped me feel better.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Potato Cheese Soup

Here is a "Souper" easy Crockpot Soup for a cold day. I love potato cheese soup, I could eat it every day and be happy. I found this recipe and modified it to my liking. 

  • 1 bag of Ore-Ida Diced hash browns
  • 4 cups of chicken Broth
  • 1 box/can of Condensed Cream of Chicken soup (I used Pacific Brand)
  • 1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 container of cream cheese
  • 1tsp of McCormick's Bacon Chive seasoning
  • 2 tsps of corn starch (Optional)

  1. Pop the bag of diced hash browns in the crockpot.
  2. Add the chicken broth and condense chicken soup to the pot and turn on High.
  3. Add in the McComick's Bacon Chive seasoning.
  4. Cook in the crockpot on High for 3 hours.
  5. At 3 hours add slices of the cream cheese and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the mixture and mix well.
    1. Set timer for 1 hour and stir every 20 minutes
  6. If after 1 more hour the soup is not to the desired thickness, add in 2 tsps of corn starch and let it cook for 20 more minutes. 
  7. Once to the desired thickness you can serve. It's up to you if you want to garnish with any chives, or extra cheese. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Punch Bowl Social Schaumburg Gluten Free Menu

Punch Bowl Social is a franchise restaurant that recently opened in Schaumburg, IL. The downside is they've moved into a jinxed location that has already seen John Barley Corn and Old Crow come and go. But they have been successful in other locales. The owners daughter has Celiac Disease so they have a very understanding and interesting list of options for gluten free Dinning.

I feel the need to break this out step by step, as I left with very mixed feelings on the location as a whole. 

1st - Their decor is retro, and chic. This place has been totally remodeled since it was Barley corn. The drink menu continues with the retro theme, with soda floats and shakes. The menu is more nuevo. More organic and natural options for unique flavors. Gluten free options are marked right on the menu. I asked our server, he was not knowledgeable on the gluten free information, but did go to get me the information. Which made the meal more comfortable. My Gluten Free Grilled cheese came out on a plate, where my boyfriends burger came out in a funny little skillet. 

2nd - Natural sodas! Boylan's soda is what they use for their "floats" and they give you the balance of the bottle to finish with your float. The only turn off is the ice cream in the float tasted a lot like soft serve yogurt, so it had a bit of an odd taste. They didn't give me a spoon or a straw to drink my float. 

3rd - They have a retro fridge which is full of bottles of luke warm water that they bring out to fill your mason jar as a water glass. I'm not a fan of luke warm water that has been sitting uncovered in a fridge for an undisclosed amount of time.....

4th - Games! They have board games, bowling, pin ball machines, live entertainment and karaoke. So it's a great place to try out with friends for a night out, and you can choose from appetizers, entrees and dessert~ 

The staff was very over the top making sure we were doing ok. A little too much that each bite we had to tell someone we were fine, and didn't need anything. Otherwise the food was good. I'd go back with friends if we needed a new or different place to go, but I'm in no hurry to go back.

They also do brunch and smoothies from the juicer. We may go to check out brunch because some of the options were interesting looking.

I give them 3 dragonflies they have great, different options. Their food was Really Tasty. I'd have felt better if the server knew more, and wasn't there to just keep asking me if I had everything I needed. It's a good place to go for a party with a group of friends. I'd go back, but no hurry to visit. I hope they last longer than the previous restaurant. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Granite City Brewery

Granite City Brewery, The first time I ate at their restaurant was before I was gluten free on a trip to Kansas. I remembered their food was pretty spot on. My brother wanted to go there for his birthday so we went to check out their new location in Schaumburg. 

I was happy to see such a large variety of items on the menu marked as gluten free, including a couple appetizers! They have everything from burgers, to seafood, to steaks. So there is definately a lot to choose from. 

They offer gluten free buns for the burgers which was pretty awesome. I enjoyed me meal a lot. I had a burger with BBQ pulled pork on top, with cheddar cheese with a side of stirfry veggies. The only issue we had was how lost and confused everyone was. The waiter told us it had been slow (It was a weekday) so they sent staff home early, and now the dinner rush was providing more than they could handle.... I have gone back a couple times, the service doesn't really ever get to an excellent level. It's always slow and kind of lacking. But the food is good so that makes up for it.

I would give them 4 dragonflies for their selection and options on the menu. As for service, well it's not the worst service, it's just not quick by any means.