Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scorch Grillhouse

I recently visited Scorch Grillhouse and Wine Bar, on 137th and Biscayne Blvd in North Miami. The owner and staff are as nice as they come. I explained my gluten issues and was accommodated to the tee. We sat outisde, and thankfully, were oblivious to the biscayne traffic going by. To be honest, the menu does have many tempting non gluten free items, so make sure you bring monster will power with you. As for the starters, I'm a huge spinach and artichoke dip lover, and was really happen when I was told its made fresh and gluten free! Unfortunately, the chips are not gluten free (they are not in a dedicated fryer) - but, to show you how accommodating they are, they provided me with veges to dip (very similar to accommodations made at Yard House).

Next, I had the churrasco with mashed potatoes. I have to say, I was disappointed. The mashed potatoes were nothing to write home about, and neither was the steak. It was just ok, not as memorable as I would have hoped - being such a meat lover. It would not be something I'd order again. Perhaps a burger is a better option.

All in all, the accommodation is A+, the food is a B-. Would I return, sure. Would I get the dip again, absolutely. The churrasco - not a chance. So, its a THUMBS UP for gluten free accommodation, and a Thumbs Sideways for the food I've tried.

Scorch Grillhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cantina Laredo @ Gulfstream = YUMMY

If you're in South Florida, you've heard of Gulfstream. A racetrack turned casino, mammoth shopping center with restaurants and bars. I was excited to try Cantina Laredo and even more excited to know they had a gluten free menu as part of their regular menu!

Looking at the menu (a picture is below, the bottom of the menu page indicates that all items marked with a grey circle are GLUTEN FREE!!). They also have vegetarian items marked with a green circle.

Since life's short, I would typically start with dessert first, but, the only gluten free option is flan - not my thing, personally, but, if you're into it, enjoy!

The corn chips are incredible! They are fried separately and assured to be gluten free and are oh so worth it! I really can't wait to get them again, they may be my absolute favorite chips. They come with 2 salsas, one mild and one spicy - if you read my Chipotle post, you know I'll stick to the mild. P.S. - The chips are refillable!

I ordered the chicken fajitas with only grilled onions ($15.29), I'm not into the peppers.

The fajitas also come with rice and refried beans, and best of all, corn tortillas.

I made delicious fajitas and was REALLY happy with my meal - it was perfection.

I can't wait to return! BIG THUMBS UP FOR CANTINA LAREDO!!

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chipotle Mexican Grill - the Good, the Bad & the Spicy

I have mixed feelings about Chipotle Mexican Grill.  I was SO excited to try this place because I've continuously heard how great and gluten free accommodating it is.  Another plus is its a fast food joint, so it would be an ideal place to grab a quick bite.

Well... I finally had the chance to try it -- here's my opinion:

The Good:   
  • There are MANY gluten free options.  They are VERY accommodating.  It was so nice to have the option to have tacos in a taco shell and chips and salsa (with confirmation that the were fried in a dedicated fryer with no chance of cross contamination).  The only thing us gluten free folk can't have is the flour tortillas. 
  • I ordered the three tacos and thought it was great that I got to choose exactly what I wanted in my tacos.  I choose white rice, beans, chicken, corn and lettuce for two, and switched to beef for the third taco.   I also ordered a side of plain chips.
The Bad:
  • No one had warned me - I took the first bite and my mouth was immediately on FIRE!  I'll admit that I have no tolerance for spice, but, I was so surprised nonetheless.  No where on the menu does it say all of the meat is spicy, none of the staff say a certain protein is more spicy than another.  I was under the false impression it would just be the spices you added that would make your dish spicy... well, guess again.  Don't say you haven't been warned!

My 3 tacos, and my side order of chips, some of which are on the right

The Spicy:
It's not a joke, these peppers in the meat were HUGE.  I spent WAY too much time digging through my tacos for peppers to remove.  These tacos were WAY too spicy for me.  Not enjoyable at all.
I wanted simple delicious tacos, and was really disappointed at Chipotle.  I couldn't enjoy any of the tacos, it was just WAY too spicy for me.  If you have a great tolerance for spice, then go for it.  For me, Chipotle is a Thumbs Down - I expect chicken to be chicken, and only spicy chicken when I am forewarned that it's spicy chicken.  I won't be returning.

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fast & Good Gluten Free Friendly Food Options

Boston Market masters fast, filling, comfort food, typically under $10. I'm in love with their corn and garlic dill new potatoes. Those are an automatic for me. They have a detailed allergy page that lists all items that have gluten. The two ok proteins are turkey and chicken, both pictured below.

What's also a big plus is Boston Market always has some sort of special -- right now, they have a coupon for $1 off of a $10 purchase. (What's also nice is you JUST need the offer code, you don't need to bring in the actual coupon - I like green company's like this!).

Thumbs Up for Boston Market -
it's always a quick, but also satisfying and delicious meal, for a decent price!

Boston Market on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Five Guys Fries, Oh My!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a fast food joint serving.. you guessed it, burgers and fries. It was reminiscent of Roadhouse Grill to me, as they have bulk peanuts you can grab and eat. It's a very chill restaurant, fast food like as you order at the window, but, a step up in quality from typical fast food joints (and a small step up in price as well).

The peanuts are free, which is a very nice touch!

The portion size value for your money is REALLY nice. The fries are ridiculous, they are fresh (they have about 6 fryers going at once, with JUST fries) are fried in peanut oil and are overflowing. I love the skin that's left on the potatoes. The fries are actually rich, they're decedent, even me, a french fry lover, couldn't finish the huge stack of fries in my small order.

The hamburger was the regular burger, I'd really consider a small next time, the regular has 2 pieces of meat, which for me was one too many. What I liked a lot is ALL toppings are FREE! I added onions and lettuce, and obviously did without the bun (which contains egg, dairy, gluten and soy).

It was very cute to see a wall of Five Guys love - where all could praise what they loved about Five Guys.

All in all, it is great to have another fast food option, especially one with fries us gluten free folk can enjoy!

Thumbs Up!

If you care to meet the guys behind Five Guys founder, read Inc. Magazine's tell all to the left!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 7, 2011

Benihana - Where Entertaining and Gluten Free Accommodating Meet!

Benihana is one of my favorite restaurants. Rocky Aoki, Benihana's founder, had the brilliant idea to combine entertainment with dining. Benihana has great chef's that also bend over backwards to make sure you enjoy your dining experience, and Benihana is always an experience. P.S. - they have locations all across the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean!

I was thrilled to hear the chef's would also bend over backwards to accommodate my gluten free needs! I brought my own gluten free soy sauce in hand as well as a table full of friends. For those of you that haven't been to Benihana before, you share a table with 8 people, if you don't come with a party of 8, you will be seated with strangers, and sit around an open grill. For us gluten free folks, my recommendation is that you bring 7 other gluten free folk with you (lessens chances of any cross contamination). Your meal is cooked to order, just the way you like it!

I started with a glass of plum wine, one of my favorites! It's a very sweet wine, which is what I love most about it!

Next, I had the famous Benihana soup. I was assured there is no gluten in my version (typically there are breaded onions, but, they are put in right before serving, make sure you ask for no breaded onions). The broth is a beef broth, and I was informed its marinated for a very long time to get the rich savory taste it has. I love scallions, and they are a perfect addition to the soup.

Salad is the next course, it typically comes with a ginger dressing, which us GF folk cannot enjoy, no fear, Benhiana will provide oil and vinegar, which does just fine with this salad.

The chef begins by making chicken fried rice (for those that order side orders of it, I say it's a MUST, it's my favorite part of the meal). As I said before, the chefs are really there to make sure you enjoy your experience, here, are our chef made a bunny for us out of the fried rice.

Our chef was great, he continued by making a volcano out of the onions! Many, many years ago, Benihana would make REAL FIRES out of the onions, it was really cool. Now, they don't take on the liability and you just get some smoke out of the onion, still cool.

The main course, Hibachi Steak! Benihana was running a special 2 for $37, which includes the soup, salad, white rice, veges, steak and dessert. Not a bad deal!

Last up, for desert, I had fruit, the pineapples were delicious!

Benihana always hits a home run with me, and the fact that they used a special spatula just to cook my food, cooked it on a separate side away from everyone else's, and used my soy sauce proves just how accommodating they will be! THUMBS UP!!

For those interested to learn more about Benihana's founder Rocky Aoki, this book is all about him and his journey.

Benihana on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eating Gluten Free in Orlando... Part 2

During my last Orlando trip, I had a fun filled day at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I have to say, both Disney and Universal are the BEST at training employees and understanding and accommodating food allergies. I was similarly pleasantly surprised with Pollo Campero.

On an important note, I used Chowhound's recommendations in Orlando, and was unpleasantly surprised - Taste is NOT gluten free, the owners and chefs came out to apologize - they are not sure why they were added, and very few items are accommodated.

The manager of Pollo Campero came out to discuss what items were and were not gluten free, and he had a cheat sheet of gluten free items he showed me in the process detailing all items. I noticed his sheet was much different than the one posted on Pollo Campero's website (I'd suggest you ask each location to get their sheet of gluten free items before ordering).

I had the chicken meal with white rice and maduros. The maduros are baked and were really the highlight of the meal for me. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and moist. This is a great fast food option - the meal is about $6.99 and doesn't taste like its fast food!

At Universal I had the best turkey leg! I'm always psyched when I can have fries, and Universal was great about keeping the fries gluten free and all of the staff/chef's knew exactly what I was talking about! Big points for the education/training.

Doesn't this look delicious?! It really was. The turkey literally falls off the bone, its cooked to perfection!
BIG THUMBS UP to Universal and Pollo Campero!

Pollo Campero on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gluten Free Cereal! Breakfast is Back!

Post cereal announced on December 22, 2010 that its fruity pebbles and cocoa pebbles would be certified GLUTEN FREE!

I was thrilled to see Gluten Free on the upper right hand corner of the box! See for yourself on the left! I'm not a breakfast person, and after trying other companies attempts at gluten free cereal, I was never going to be...
In the press release, Post notes it will also cut down on the sugar.
Make sure the box notes Gluten Free before purchasing!

Breakfast is Back!
What is your favorite Gluten Free cereal?!?

Thumbs Up for Post!!