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Gluten-Free Restaurants

Gluten-Free in Columbus, OH

By September 15, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Chicken Parmesan

On a recent trip to Columbus, OH I stumbled upon a gluten-free gem that goes by the name of Marcella’s Ristorante.

While staying at the Hyatt Regency hotel on North High Street, I was on a mission to find a restaurant that 1) was within walking distance and had gluten-free options, and 2) had gluten-free options that would actually fill me up after starving on convention style food for 2 full days.

How did I accomplish this mission? A little thing I like to call a Google search…keywords: Gluten-Free Restaurants in Columbus, OH. It was really THAT easy. Thank you technology.

So after walking three blocks on North High Street, I stepped through the double doors of the cutest restaurant ever. Wine bottles lined the walls, candles were lit on every table , and a deli counter [circa 1960] decorated the back of the restaurant. I immediately told my friend that I wanted to move to Columbus just so we could visit Marcella’s on a regular basis [and this was before I even tasted the food].

We were greeted by our waitress and I explained that I would be ordering off of the gluten-free menu [which was huge by the way]. But, first things were first – I had to order a glass of sangria.

When our sangria was brought back to the table, I was ecstatic to order since I had skimmed the menu in the meantime. I asked whether or not they provided gluten-free bread baskets, and the answer was yes – and it was homemade. I then asked about getting gluten-free CHEESE bread, and the waitress said she could work something out for me…and that she did.
Best gluten-free cheese bread ever.

After falling in love at first bite with the bread, and then inhaling it all at lightning fast speeds, I knew that my entrée would be ballin. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan and penne noodles, and was confident the second round of carbo-loading would be something to write home about.

When the plate was set in front of me, my heart melted.

The large piece of cheese-covered chicken next to the hearty serving of noodles were my dream come true.You may think that the large serving size would result in a take-home box, but you are wrong. I ate every last bite. We won’t talk about how full I was after-the-fact, because that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is how good Marcella’s can serve up a plate of gluten-free Italian gloriousness.

I actually liked the meal so much that I actually came back the next night…for pizza.

 

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Gluten-Free at Grumpy’s

By June 6, 2012 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Image

It’s pretty much common knowledge that local, home-town restaurants always beat the stuff of chains. For being a native of the Toledo, OH area since the age of 6, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not experiencing the gloriousness of local lunch-time hot spot, Grumpy’s, until just recently.

Having heard about the restaurant from a few people here and there, then realizing they had gluten-free selections after visiting Gluten-Free Glass City, the time had come for me to schedule myself a lunch date.Being that my mom works in downtown Toledo, would appreciate the gluten-free options, AND would foot the bill, she was obviously the perfect candidate.

[[Disclaimer: If you choose to dine at Grumpy’s, which I highly recommend, they are only open Monday – Friday between the hours of 8am-2pm.]]

The first thing that rubbed me the right way about Grumpy’s was the abundant parking [if there before the lunch rush]. There is a parking lot alongside the building, making the stress and anxiety I get from having to park on the streets nonexistent. Once my mom and I arrived, we walked in and were immediately seated at a table for two. I told the server that we were gluten-free and she then explained to us that they had a selection of gluten-free bread, buns, and pizza crusts that are all homemade each morning. We were instantly ecstatic.

There were many things I was thankful for as we geared up to order our lunch – the gluten-free selections, the handmade bread, the friendly staff, my mom eventually paying for my meal…BUT the number one thing I was thankful for – the fact that I am NOT on a diet. HOLY MOLY we ended up ordering a lot of food!!!!

My mom and I started off by sharing the soup of the day [chicken & rice] as we tried to strategize the rest of our meal. Wanting to have a little taste of everything, we decided to alternate selections and share bites with one another. Being that Grumpy’s is known for their Garbage Salad, my mom decided to order the size small, telling me I would be able to try a bite. This was kind of “whatever” to me since you all know I am not a salad kind of gal. BUT, when the plate came out containing the mixed greens, grilled chicken, onions, raisins, four cheeses, and homemade poppy-seed dressing, I kinda-sorta decided I had to at least try it. After one bite I immediately alerted the media [by tweeting and instagramming] that I officially like salad now!!! The poppy-seed dressing Grumpy’s makes is to DIE for!

After being impressed by a salad [which is very rare for me], I couldn’t wait to experience the rest of the meal. For maximum gluten-free meal optimization, I ordered a hamburger [because I wanted a big yummy gluten-free bun], and my mom ordered the Jennifer’s Special sandwich. Once the plates came out, I was awestruck. There was NO way that the bun on that hamburger was gluten-free, because I had never seen a gluten-free bun that looked so light, puffy, warm, and inviting [to my taste buds]!!!! I was honestly telling my mom that I was afraid they mixed up my order with a regular person’s because the bun tasted too good to be true!

My mom’s Jennifer’s Special sandwich was just that – SPECIAL. Made with Grumpy’s Veggie gluten-free bread, it was unlike anything I have ever tasted. You could tell by looking at it that it would taste amazing…not to mention the yumminess that was between the slices of bread! We started cutting off portions of our sandwiches for one another, with countless “oh my gosh this is good” and “I can’t believe this” comments coming from our table.

After cleaning my plate, and helping my mom to clean hers, we were greeted by our server. Seeing that the words “self-control” do not exist in my vocabulary, I promptly asked what gluten-free desserts they had. We were then happily informed that the chocolate cheesecake along with the chocolate chip cookies were gluten free, so of course we ordered both.

When the cheesecake was set on the table, we were speechless. Had I not been in public, I would have unbuttoned my pants right then & there to make room for my food baby. After taking one bite the only words coming out of my mouth were “Oh my gosh, this is amazing“. I also devoured my gluten-free chocolate chip cookie as well. Part of me is not proud of this moment, but the other part of me is perfectly fine with the way I behaved, because this was honestly the best gluten-free lunch I have ever had.

I fully plan on returning to Grumpy’s to report my findings on their gluten-free pizza, as well as a variety of other sandwiches on the menu. I will do so for the sake of this blog, not for my taste buds. I am a selfless human being as you can see.

For those of you that may be in awe of the sounds and sights of these gluten-free bread products, Grumpy’s does sell by the 1/2 loaf [$5], as well as by the bun [$2]. The pizza crusts, which will be reviewed after my next visit, are sold in packs of 3 [$9]. Visit the Grumpy’s website, or call (419) 241-6728 for more information.

Now go plan your lunch date at Grumpy’s so you can give your taste buds the gluten-free ride of their life.

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Gluten-Free at PF Changs

By June 4, 2012 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants
collage

PF Chang’s is without a doubt my favorite gluten free, chain restaurant. I often say if you want to impress me on a first date, take me to this fine establishment and you’ll instantly get a few [gluten free] brownie points!

My favorite thing about PF Chang’s is that the gluten free menu is rather large, so you actually feel like you have options. The gluten free options are included within the regular menu, so you don’t have to jump through hoops to get a list of gf menu items like you sometimes do at other restaurants. The gf menu consists of everything from appetizers to desserts, so there’s no sitting on the bench during this meal! Another good thing is that the items only differ slightly from regular to gluten free, so those gluten-eating individuals you may dine with are more apt to share an appetizer or entrée with you, which can also help you to not burn [as big of] a hole in your wallet.

The way that PF Chang’s distinguishes their gluten free dishes from regular dishes are the plates the food is served on. This is reassuring to us g-free’ers, as I often worry that things get mixed up in the kitchen, especially when I dine with a large party. The server also brings out a separate soy sauce mixture for gluten free diners, in a different colored dish, ensuring that there is no confusion or cross-contamination occurring at your table.

I usually like to start my PF Chang’s dining experience off with Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps. These are hands down one of my favorite gluten free appetizers. I could honestly eat the entire plate myself, and I wouldn’t be the least bit ashamed. I also enjoy getting the gluten free Singapore Street Noodles. These differ slightly from the regular Singapore Street Noodles, but I wouldn’t know the difference as I think they taste bangin’!

The list of entrees to choose from is pretty long, but the creature of habit I am usually likes to stick with Chang’s Spicy Chicken. As you know, I am a bit of a spicy gal, so this dish definitely ranks high up on my list. This entree never ceases to amaze me, as I have yet to have a compalint. They know what they’re doing at this place!

After going through the usual medley of lettuce wraps, street noodles, and Chang’s Spicy Chicken, I am a bit full by the end of the meal. But the one thing you have to remember about PF Chang’s is that they actually have gluten free dessert!!!

There are two dessert options, and both are absolutely to die for. The first is a flourless chocolate dome served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce. Word to the wise on this one – you have to share it with someone! It is very rich, and if you try to conquer it on your own, you’re going to feel like one big chunker. The other gluten free dessert is the triple chocolate mousse mini, which is just straight up wonderful. It is in one of those rather large looking shot glasses, and is the perfect amount of sweetness to end your gluten free meal.

In conclusion, if you like asian food, you’ll be on cloud nine while dining at PF Chang’s. I recommend it as the ultimate treat for your taste buds.

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Gluten-Free in Marblehead, OH

By May 30, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
The Shore Club

Summer in Northwest Ohio is my absolute favorite! Having lived in Toledo, OH for a majority of my life, my most cherished summer memories all include being on Lake Erie.

Marblehead, OH, located just 45 minutes away from Toledo, is my family’s summer time stomping ground. We have docked our boat at Bay Point Marina for the past 8 years, and it isn’t a summer weekend if we aren’t sitting on the beach soaking up the sun.

Bay Point has changed drastically in the past few summers, with lake-front cabins being replaced by three-story mansions, and my favorite walking trail becoming home to new “lots for sale”. I won’t lie, this change initially bothered me, but I am now in awe of the dream homes on the lake, and excited for the hustle & bustle they have brought to the community.

One of my favorite additions to the community is The Shore Club, a seasonal restaurant open for members of Bay Point. Sitting on the beach, with amazing views of the water, and an up close & personal view of Cedar Point [just a water taxi ride away], it hosts a truly beautiful dining experience. Along with great views of the water, this restaurant also has a fantastic gluten free menu to offer diners as well!

I first visited the restaurant for dinner with my mom (also gf), and my Grandma on Mother’s Day. We picked this restaurant because my Grandma absolutely loves the lake [runs in the family]. By doing my usual call-ahead procedure, I knew my mom and I would be able to eat gluten free at the restaurant, but had no idea the extent of the gluten free accommodations!

As our server greeted us, I informed her of our diet restrictions, and she knew exactly what gluten free included [I think we can all agree how frustrating it is when servers are completely unaware of what gluten even is]. She then fetched the menu with all the gluten free dishes listed on it. Being that it is a smaller-scale operation, the menu for the restaurant is somewhat small. A good thing to note is that this did not hinder the gluten free options available whatsoever!

The gluten free menu includes items from each section of the menu: appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and even the pizza section! Those appetizers available gluten free are chicken wings and french fries, & let me tell you, both are delicious. My sophisticated palette loved these items. Also, how nice is it to have appetizers available!! I hate when everyone gets to enjoy bread. soup, and whatever else when often the gluten free individual sits there plate-less.

The salads available are the Summer Salad with berry vinaigrette, the Grandmere’ with sweet basil vinaigrette, and the Seared Tuna Salad. Now, if you have read my previous posts you know I don’t like to get down with a bowl full of lettuce, but I have to say, when I tasted the Grandmere’ salad I was impressed! The sweet basil vinaigrette they make in-house is scrumptious! This compliment is a lot coming from me, because I pretty much cringe at the taste of any other salad dressing. Kudo’s Shore Club chef, you are the bomb diggity.

Basically every sandwich offered at The Shore Club is gluten free when you go the no-bun route. The list includes a delicious looking hot ham & cheese sandwich, a hot turkey sandwich, pulled pork, grilled chicken, and a variety of hamburgers & cheeseburgers. All sandwiches are served with a salad garnish, meaning you can enjoy one of the three salads described earlier. This may be the only place I would actually take them up on this “salad garnish” offer, rather than swapping my salad for more french fries, that’s how good their homemade salad dressing is!!

Entrees available for the gluten free crowd includes filet mignon and a grilled hawaiian chicken. I did not try the filet mignon yet, but I don’t really see how that wouldn’t be good. I did eat the grilled Hawaiian chicken for dinner and man oh man was it tasty! I practically licked my plate clean. The chicken had pineapple chunks on top, along with a layer of provolone cheese. The portions are also pretty hearty, but the hungry girl I am still didn’t have any to take home [although the normal human being would]. I regret not having a picture of this meal, but unfortunately my stomach was being selfish and didn’t let the blogger in me snap a pic pre-pigout. Shucks…

One thing I did get a picture of was the gluten free pizza available at The Shore Club! My mom and I ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza one afternoon for lunch and it was super tasty! The sausage was fantastic, and it had the perfect cheese-sauce-topping ratio. Another great thing about this is that the pizza is only $12! I think we can all agree that’s a pretty darn good price for a gluten free pizza seeing that the crusts available at Whole Foods, and other health food stores can be pretty pricey on their own!

The only sad thing about Bay Point is that you have to be a member, or a guest of a member, to come inside the gates. Since my family has docked at Bay Point for years, I have had the luxury of being a member under my parents name. If one doesn’t have a boat, but they live near the Marblehead, OH area, seasonal beach passes are available. A family pass goes for $445. You might think “whoa there, you’re breaking my bank!” but I assure you, once you take in the scenes of Bay Point, you would be packing your beach bag every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

And who doesn’t want to look at this beautiful view while chowing down on some gluten free gloriousness?!

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Gluten-Free Italiana

By March 13, 2012 Gluten-Free Restaurants
glorious.

From time to time, my family takes a bit of a trip to MI for one sole purpose – gluten free food. The usual trip consists of a stop at Whole Foods [yes, there is no Whole Foods near my home in Toledo, OH…it’s tragic, really] amounting to a pretty hefty bill. We like to stock up on bagels, bread, pizza crusts, cereal bars, and other fun treats that we don’t have in the grocery stores near us. We sure did stock up on this trip, seeing that our freezer could currently feed a small Celiac army. Some may say we went a bit overboard, but I personally think that we just like to be prepared.

So after the Whole Foods trip was over, it was time for the real treat of the trip – the best dinner a gluten free gal could dream of. Where is this you may ask? Giulio’s Cucina Italiana in Livonia, MI.

The first time we stumbled upon Giulio’s was about 2 years ago when the self-proclaimed Gluten Free Guru was their head chef. Let me tell you, he sure is a “Guru”. Although he is no longer at Giulio’s, their menu is still fabulous. Almost the entire menu has gluten free substitutes available, making it not a “What can I eat?” kind of gluten free restaurant, but rather “What am I going to choose?!” gluten free restaurant.

Well, here’s what we chose. First off, Italian sausage appetizer. I forgot to snap a pic of it, because the carnivore in me started to dig in before I could manage to take a photo. I still think you can appreciate the fact that we were able to have the Italian sausage though, since us g-free’ers don’t always have the choice to eat sausage when dining out.

glorious.For my main course I decided to order the Veal Parmigiana. I can’t rave enough about this dish. It honestly was the best piece of veal I have ever had [even when I was a carefree, gluten-eating individual who loved anything that was breaded]. The noodles were also cooked perfectly – not too soggy, and not too hard. We all know there is a fine line between the two when making gluten free noodles. We later found out that the noodles are from Mama Mucci’s Pasta, located in Canton, MI. Needless to say, I went to town on this baby. Glorious is the only word I know that can describe it.

Since my family has such self-control, we also decided to order a Margherita pizza as well. Let me tell you, the crust was perfect. It didn’t taste like a thin gluten free crust, or like a dry, cracker like crust either. One of the best gluten free pizza’s I have ever had.

Now, here’s the real kicker. Dessert. Usually, when you’re dining out gluten free dessert consists of ice cream, sherbert, or maybe a chocolate pudding like dish of some sort. But, at Giulio’s, there’s more options. My mom and I were able to enjoy a Lemon Roll “Cake”. Honestly, one of the lightest, yet satisfying things I have ever tasted. When our waitress told us it was gluten free I did not believe her.

Once the dessert was gone, and I set my fork down, I was the happiest [and fullest] gluten free girl in the entire world. If you are within reasonable driving distance of Livonia, MI you MUST make the trip. You will be happy you did!!!

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Gluten-Free at the Hard Rock Cafe

By September 12, 2011 Gluten-Free Restaurants
My rockin' meal at the Hard Rock Cafe

After going gluten-free over two & a half years ago, I threw all my hopes & dreams about enjoying a big, juicy, restaurant-style hamburger served on a bun out the window. But, I am happy to say, it’s a whole new world out there today!

While visiting Cleveland, OH last week with my friend we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.  I knew I could eat gluten-free there by just ordering a plain burger, so it would probably be one of those meals where I watch other people eat their regular people meals, while I cut my burger up with a fork & knife. So, after the fiasco of trying to find a parking space in downtown Cleveland, we finally walked into the restaurant. As the hostess greeted us, I did the usual, “Do you have a gluten-free menu?”, and was explained that the server would know what I could & could not have. I don’t know about you, but I just feel reassured when they hand me a legit piece of paper titled Gluten-Free Menu…but I’ll take what I can get. Gluten-Free beggars can’t be choosers.

After being seated we were greeted by our server. She took our drink orders, and I then asked a few questions about the burgers being gluten-free [just wanting to give her a heads up about the complicated customer she was about to serve]. Then, to my surprise, she said, “We have a gluten-free bun as well”….WHAAAAAT?! Awwww yeah! My taste buds did a little happy dance, and I instantly had an ear-to-ear smile on my face. I hadn’t had a bun at a restaurant since the pre-gluten-free days. This moment was about to be monumental.

After going over the menu, I decided to order the 10 oz. burger, because let’s be honest, I have a “go big or go home” type of personality. I wasn’t going to mess around with a measly 6 oz’er…this was my day! I was also really, really, really craving some french fries to complete the healthy meal that I was about to consume. I was crossing my fingers that they had a separate fryer…and they didn’t. BUT, I was there before the dinner rush came, and the server said they could fry my french fries in a pan to prevent cross contamination [fist pump]!

While waiting for the food to come, all I could think about was the “almost” real-people meal I was about to eat. But then I realized, we are real people too gosh darn’t! The fact that this International chain has a gluten-free BUN,  means we are takin’ over! Life is just going to keep on getting easier from here on out. Restaurants are recognizing us, before you know it every restaurant will have a gluten-free menu.

Anyways, my meal came…and I ate EVERY last bite. It was so delicious and juicy, and there was none of that lettuce wedge in place of bun business involved. The bun was scrumptious, and did not seem dense like other types I have tried. I asked the server what brand it was…the answer was Gluten Free Creations based out of Phoenix, Arizona.  YUM!

I recommend to all you gluten-free eaters out there to go to your nearest Hard Rock Cafe as soon as possible & enjoy a big burger [without a fork & knife]!

Stay hungry my friends.

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