Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gluten-Free Date

If you have a food allergy, preference, or are simply a picky eater, eating out can be a challenge.  Whether you're lactose intolerant, vegan, have celiac disease, keep Kosher, or follow a paleo diet, there are tons of ways eaters like and need to alter their orders at restaurants.  You may need a special type of flour, no flour at all, no vegetable oils, no chicken stock, and on and on... Some places happily cater to such customers, while others are less kind. 

Amber at Exsoycise has some great tips for avoiding soy and other food allergies while eating out.  Me? I'm just going to share a success story and some savory and sweet photos of how some places are popping up that cater directly to those with specific allergies or aversions.

(This is also kind of a sorry excuse for a What I Ate Wednesday, because today is Wednesday, but if Wednesday were last spring...)

Back in the spring, my friend Ezra and I had ourselves a gluten-free date in New York City.  I happened to bump into him to learn that he was in town for a short period of time, so we arranged to meet up for lunch at a place I've wanted to try for a while now, to catch up and enjoy some good eats.

We met at "S'MAC", aka Sarita's Mac and Cheese. It is what it sounds like: a restaurant devoted to macaroni & cheese.  "Wait, Meredith, I thought you said gluten-free?"  Surprise! S'MAC has gluten-free pastas on hand and caters to the needs of those with gluten allergies and sensitivities. They even have gluten-free breadcrumbs to top off those dishes!  Very impressive. 

It was very, very tough to choose, but the two bowls we selected did not disappoint:

Garden Lite
Don't let the "Lite" fool you - this baby is as satisfying as any of the other MACs!
Lite Cheddar, Parmesan, roasted cauliflower and portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, broccoli, and scallions.

Mac-n-Cheese for the "upper crust".
Creamy Brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms & fresh rosemary.  
It's addictive!

Figs! Figs!

Ah, so delicious.  Cheesy, veggie goodness!  The regular bowls we ordered were just the right size for a solid meal.  I was left satisfied but not stuffed, as is too often the result of such a savory dish.

Ezra knew that Tu-Lu's Gluten-Free Bakery was just nearby, so we went over there for some sweet desserts.

What a menu!

SO. MANY. GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS!  And several dairy-free, too.

We each selected three mini cupcakes to taste.  

I got Red Velvet cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing, 
Vanilla cake with Vanilla Buttercream Icing, 
and Chocolate cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing.

I liked.

I'm fortunate to live in a city where there are restaurants that cater to any nutritional need.  The lesson? Always do your research! Check the website, scour the menu, and don't be afraid to ask.  Who'd have thought that a macaroni-based restaurant would have everything available in a gluten-free variety?  You never know, so dare you to inquire! This story was a simple one, but you never know. I've been to some very trendy restaurants that surprisingly have a gluten-free menu. Other places are willing to swap an oil or cheese or nut or or or... 

(Note: Those with Celiac disease and other serious sensitivities should also inquire to the cooking materials used, such that all bowls, utensils, etc., are thoroughly washed and not contaminated. Ezra was fine, so S'MAC seemed to be safe.)

Do you dare to ask for special food preparation?

What is your experience with popular restaurants catering to the needs of food allergies? 


  1. Oh my! Those treats at the bakery look divine. Now I'm hungry. Sooo tempting!

  2. Whoa your dinner looks AMAZING!! Why does dairy have to be so good and evil at the same time ;) This is the first I've heard of Tu-Lu's, I may have to stop on by there one day soon! Thanks for the love! :)

  3. Ive been GF for 19 years---still havent ever found a GF restaurant!

  4. uh oh, I just licked the computer screen!!! :P

  5. Wow, that pasta looks delicious! And cupcakes? Mmmm.... I'm so glad I'm not gluten free, but it's awesome there are so many good options available.

  6. That looks amazing! I think I need to come to NYC just for gluten free mac and cheese! I love it when restaurants really cater to those with allergies makes it so much easier!

  7. I am a master when it comes to special ordering my meals! LOL

    It's amazing to see all the gluten-free options, restaurants and bakeries out there!

    Those cupcakes, oh my goodness!!!


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