Friday, December 31, 2010

Seasons 52

Seasons 52 has finally made its way to Coral Gables! I've been twice for lunch so far, and must say - the food is wonderful, tasty, fresh, and Seasons 52 has its own gluten free menu!

Here's a picture of the gluten free menu:

Here are the negatives I've noticed for this chain.

  1. Take a look at the gluten free menu, what's missing?? The PRICES! My biggest pet peeve...

  2. You MUST have a reservation - even for lunch. On one visit, we were late for our reservation (like everyone in Miami is always on time, please!)... and even though there were at LEAST 10 tables open - the hostess made us wait 10 minutes - for other potential reservations... It's just silly.

  3. Although Seasons 52 has a gluten free menu (and many other allergy friendly menus I hear) - the servers, AND the management really have NO CLUE what gluten free means. I was hoping such an allergy free friendly restaurant would do more than just spend the money creating menus, but, would actually train its employees.

To show you how bad it is, I ordered a chicken skewer dish (see it below), gluten free, of course, and it was brought to me with a terriyaki sauce that CONTAINED gluten! The servers just have no clue., Thankfully, I thought to ask and confirm that the sauce was really gluten free, and the server came back and sheepishly took the sauce away (of course not offering me an alternate sauce)... Well, I went to Seasons 52 again -- and what do you know... AGAIN, the server brought me rice that contained gluten, AFTER knowing I was gluten free!! Unfortunately... I'm going to have to put Seasons 52 on pause as I can't risk getting contaminated, and they clearly just can't get it right!!! So sad...

I've sent an email to management discussing this, REALLY hoping for a positive response, as I'm unfortunately putting Seasons 52 on pause until they get it right and train their employees.

Is the food delicious? Yes! Do the servers and management need to work out their kinks & get some training!?!? Yes! Is it a worthwhile restaurant for Celiacs (once the servers/management get a clue)? Yes!

Thumbs Sideways for Seasons 52 - work out the kinks quickly, please!

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yokos - Where GF Accomodating is an Understatement

Yoko's Japanese Restaurant on Miami Beach is a quaint locals joint, that gets BIG points in my book for its customer service. Although I'm not a sushi lover, I've heard Yoko's sushi is fresh and delicious. I'm in it for the cooked food. What I LOVE Yoko's for, is they are SO accommodating, and let me bring my San-J gluten free soy sauce to use in cooking my meal. They also assured me that my meal was cooked separately so no contamination should take place. Yoko's has buckwheat noodles with chicken for $13, which they used my GF soy sauce to cook! See the full menu here.

Oliver's Restaurant on Miami Beach needs to take a clue from Yoko's amazing service. Oliver's, instead, is the complete opposite -- in an empty restaurant they will make NO accommodations, period -- and that's straight from the owner - see my post here.

I was really pleased with my noodles, it was a delicious meal, and 100% GF!
BIG THUMBS UP FOR YOKO'S - You're accommodations are greatly appreciated!!

Yoko's Japanese on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweet Freedom Bakery

I'm always excited to hear of gluten free bakeries. I've joined every gluten free group I could find on facebook (fyi - add me on facebook - I'm "Gluten Free" - you can also find me by my email!). I came across Sweet Freedom bakery, read some great reviews, and knew I had to try it. The bakeries in Philadelphia, but, gives you two shipping options - overnight (which will always cost more than what you're ordering), or ground (which is semi reasonable - at least $15-$25... what I won't do for chocolate chip cookies...).

I checked out the menu, was most excited about the cupcakes - but... frosting can't be shipped ground... Booo... =(

Cookies could only be ordered by the dozen ($13.75 a dozen). I ordered a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and a dozen chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

As you can see above, they come individually wrapped, and with popcorn stuffing. I've received many orders with dry ice - which I think makes for better shipping.

I also ordered a half dozen blueberry muffins ($18 - I was disappointed I had to order by the half dozen, as I really wanted to try other muffins as well - but, just don't have the freezer space, nor did I want to spend another $18!). Lastly, I ordered a half dozen brownies ($15). See them below.

My favorite was the chocolate chip cookies. They tasted like the real thing! But... here's the real deal - the brownies.. well, I think I can make them better with Betty Crocker's mix - mine don't crumble and taste better. The muffins, well, for $3, I was really hoping for a real size, large muffin, these are tiny (about the same size as the Kinnikinnick blueberry frozen muffins). The taste of these muffins is much better then Kinnikinnick's, with large blueberries in them, but... not good enough for me to order again. Lastly, the chocolate chocolate chip cookies - we'll, I thought I'd be enamored with these, and I wasn't. They were OK..

I say this with a grain of salt, because Sweet Freedom Bakery is gluten free, vegan, dairy free, egg free, soy free, corn free, peanut free, refined sugar free, AND kosher. With all of these ingredients out of the mix - it has to be difficult to create an amazing tasty product. Since I only need gluten free products, I'd prefer the egg and dairy in there for taste. Am I glad I tried the baked goods? Yes! Will I order again? No.

Thumbs Sideways for Sweet Freedom, for what you have to work with, you do an AMAZING job. For Celiacs that have options for other ingredients (like dairy/egg) I'd look elsewhere.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Best GF Pasta I've Ever Had -- Cafe Europa

Cafe Europa, located at 910 East Las Olas Blvd in Fort Lauderdale has GF pasta options! I must say, it was the BEST GF pasta/sauce I've ever had, since starting my GF diet. Inside Fort Lauderdale has a good review of Cafe Europa here - with some great images of the inside - it's very nicely decorated inside, a perfect date place. Their review isn't focused on the GF aspect - but, good to get an idea nonetheless

For my meal... I started with the caesar salad, they were very accommodating and held the croutons for me. They confirmed the caesar dressing was GF, and it was great. I asked for crushed pepper and extra dressing - the pepper was thick and had me chocking for a second, but, it was still a great salad.

The kitchen is exposed, and the shelf separating the kitchen from the dinning room is decorated with pasta boxes. Included in the mix is the GF pasta offered. I've never seen De Boles before, but, was so happy Cafe Europa knew of them!
I had the vodka sauce - I've heard many differing opinions on vodka and whether or not they are GF. Some say all triple distilled or more are absolutely GF, some say if its grain based it'll never be GF - if anyone has more on this - I'm all ears. In this instance, this was by far the best tasting sauce I've ever had in my life, but, I had immediate heart burn. I was devastated. It was SO delicious, I literally wanted to dive in my plate and live in the pasta sauce, but, I had to stop eating and run to Walgreen's for Zantac.

Would I absolutely go back and try a different sauce that isn't tomato/vodka based, YES! The pasta was AMAZING and they absolutely know what they're doing in the kitchen.

I'm excited that Cafe Europa offers a GF pasta - and shows everyone the box to boot! It's a great Italian dinner - just be careful with the sauce you choose to accompany the delicious pasta.

Update 3-24-2012 -

I recently went back to Cafe Europa, and again, was pleasantly surprised.  I tried the pasta pretty plain this time, just had garlic and olive oil - still delicious - but, in the spirit of full disclosure, nothing compares to the vodka sauce!!


Cafe Europa Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'll Admit It - I go to Joe's Stone Crab for....

Joe's Stone Crab (11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach) is famous for stone crabs and all sorts of (what I hear is) delicious seafood - open for 98 years! It's an icon on Miami Beach, and I'm absolutely the cheapest date at Joe's. Thankfully, I'm not a seafood lover, as I recently found out, in addition to Celiac disease, I'm also allergic to fish and shellfish. So... I'm thankful Joe's Stone Crab also makes delicious... CHICKEN! Who would have thought? Yes... I go to Joe's Stone Crab for CHICKEN!

Joe's has a walk up take out restaurant, in addition to the beautiful restaurant (where some have to grease the doorman to get a table all are vying for).

Who am I kidding, I start with the dessert!! Thankfully there was a really nice chef walking around, that was able to discuss the ingredients in the Flourless Chocolate Cake -- and to my surprise it was GF!! There is a rice coating on top, but, it's safe - the chocolate is OMG delicious - a perfect start to a great meal. Isn't it beautiful? And... it's $3.95!

Next, the 1/2 roasted chicken ($6.95) - the take out chicken comes with bbq sauce, cole slaw and corn bread (unfortunately, the bbq sauce and corn bread are NOT GF -- cole slaw isn't my thing, so I didn't ask).

It's perfectly cooked chicken, a side of ketchup and it makes for a great lunch.

Next... a small side order of hash browns ($6.25 which the chef confirmed is cooked separately, and has no gluten issues). No other potato side is safe - thankfully, you won't want any other potato side after trying the hash browns.

A perfect lunch, and would also be a perfect dinner - reasonably priced - and scrumptious!


Joe's Stone Crab (Seasonal) on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 20, 2010

Want a Delicious Skirt Steak on South Beach??

There's nothing like a great skirt steak. I'm in heaven thinking about it. Baires Grill, a fabulous Argentinian Steak joint, on Lincoln Road (right next to the Lincoln Road movie theatre) puts it all together, oh so nicely.

As you can see, I couldn't wait - after seeing this fabulous piece of meat, I showered chimichurri sauce all over it and went to town. I sprung for the 14 oz ($26) over the 10 oz ($21) (for a $5 difference, how could I go wrong?!). The plate was empty by the time I was done -- and the beauty of it all -- it's 100% GF!!

I discussed my gluten issue with our server, she promised to keep my meat away from the grill that is used for breaded meat, and the rice is jasmine rice, safe as well.

Baires also has an exciting birthday offer, bring 6 of your closest friends and share a bottle of champagne and dessert on Baires! A nice incentive for birthday celebrations!

A HUGE THUMBS UP for Baires, I will be returning!

Baires Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 17, 2010

THRIVE - It's New & 100% Raw, Vegan & GF!

t.h.r.i.v.e. owner is GF herself, and wholeheartedly believes in a healthy cuisine, in her case, filled with raw ingredients.
The location has its pluses and minuses - It is a hidden gem - located behind the Garden on 12th and Alton Road. Unfortunately, you cannot see it from the street, but, once you do find it, its such a beautiful location. You walk through the garden, and there it is, on the side. There is seating inside and outside, look how adorable it is! We sat outside to take in the garden views.
The menu is on a white board, changing daily, dependent upon which ingredients are freshest.
Of course, it was a tough decision on my first visit, but I had to start with dessert!
I had the Chocolate Fudge Pie first! After I had already sunk my teeth into the pie, I was informed the base of the pie is AVOCADOS!! Crazy, I thought, but, it worked. I have never had a vegan meal before, and was pleasantly surprised. The Pie was delicious, rich, tasty, chocolaty - little would I have ever though avocados made a star appearance. Would you guess by looking at it??
Next, I couldn't make a decision between the Fettuccine and Bolognese pastas - so the owner made a HUGE exception for me, because of my increased indecisiveness and gave me a half portion of each. The entrees come with a fresh spinach salad.

Now, I couldn't get the image of actual pasta out of my head... but... this pasta had no real pasta! The fettucine was made from squash! The bolognese from zucchine! Each had nuts in the mix, you can see the cashews in the fettucine and the bolognese had walnuts.
I must say, I had to cook up a big fat steak later that night. Vegan all the way has never been and will never be my thing - but, it is wonderful to know I have a GF option so close to me!
THUMBS UP for THRIVE - wishing you much success!

Thrive on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go-Go Pies - GF Soup on South Beach!

GO-GO Pies tauts itself as being informal, eclectic health conscious yet indulgent. Unfortunately, the Go-Go pies themselves are not GF, but... they make fresh GF soup daily (you have to call for the daily selection)! I was thrilled to know this when I was sick. A wonderful friend brought me chicken & asparagus soup. It was AWESOME!!!!

I was excited - it was soo tasty, had SO many chunks of chicken and asparagus --- look at this!

The broth was perfect, made me feel better instantly. HUGE Thumbs UP!!!Go Go Fresh Food Cafe on Urbanspoon

Go Go Fresh Food Cafe on Urbanspoon Go Go Fresh Food Cafe on Urbanspoon

Go Go Fresh Food Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Naked... Pizza! GF!

Naked Pizza! Such a sexy name for a Pizza place! Their website boasts an all natural dough with no preservatives and chemicals. They also have a GF Rice Flour crust, hence why I had the pleasure to try the nakedness. The GF pizza only comes in Medium, my hope is that they purchase the GF crust elsewhere and have strict policies so their pizza isn't cross contaminated with the non-GF crusts -- so I've sent corporate an email asking, and will update once I hear a response. I was not sick after I tried Naked's pizza... but, I'm still looking forward to Naked Pizza's response.

Here's a list of Naked Pizza locations -- as you can see, there are many more to come.

As for the pizza itself, well, the rice flour crust is a thin crust, and the sauce and cheese is quite good. It looks just like the real thing, and really does taste like the real thing as well!

I must compare to Pizza Fusion -- whose Pizza I am quite obsessed with - as you can see from my previous post. Pizza Fusion almost feels like its gourmet pizza - a perfect 10 to me, a special treat, while Naked Pizza is good, but isn't quite a 10 to me. I prefer the square crust and sauce and cheese at Pizza Fusion -- but... Naked Pizza is closer and cheaper~($9.99)!!

I am thrilled to have a GF pizza option so close to home! Big Thumbs Up for Naked Pizza - I look forward to the response from management re: cross contamination so I can continue my cravings for Naked Pizza!

NakedPizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 11, 2010

GF Pad Thai Wars - Who Does it Best?

The GF Pad Thai Wars is on! The contest is between my two favorites, Thai House II and Sushi Maki. I tried Chicken Pad Thai at both... and the winner is... well, you have to read on for that! It was confirmed by both restaurants that the Chicken Pad Thai at both was GF.

I used to dislike rice noodles -- but, in my new GF life, I love the fact that I can have noodles, so I'm now used to, and actually like rice noodles. Add bean sprouts, chicken, and peanut sauce, and I'm in GF heaven.

Thai House II's Chicken Pad Thai is pretty delicious, but, felt like it was missing something. The flavoring was off for me (as a caveat... this was my first time having pad thai here, I've known many other people who are addicted to pad thai at the Thai House II, so this may have been a one time occurrence). I have had more meals than I could count at Thai House II over the years (all have been AMAZING), of course, non have been GF -- switching over is tough, especially with so many fond memories... But, I'm glad to know Chicken Pad Thai is always an option. The rice noodles were cooked perfectly, the chicken is always great, it was just the flavor, it was a hint too strong, not peanut'ish strong, but, more lemongrass'ish strong.

Thai House II

I am addicted to Sushi Maki's pad thai. Since I had it the first time, I've been back at least 4 more times (in about a month period!). I LOVE the addition of lemon, the layer of bean sprouts (although I do wish they were cooked, like the bean sprouts in Thai House II's pad thai). I especially LOVE the layer of peanuts on the top. The rice noodles are great, the flavor is 100% ON.

Sushi Maki
Drum Roll please..... and my winner is..... SUSHI MAKI!!!! Who makes your favorite pad thai?

Huge Thumbs Up to both Thai House II and Sushi Maki - keep the GF selections coming!

Thai House II on Urbanspoon

Sushi Maki on Urbanspoon