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Category Archives: Restaurants

Amazing Experience At California Pizza Kitchen

Each day has turned into a minor quest to find a home.  Searching online, touring on the weekends and weeknights, and attending open houses has enabled us to learn what each area we explore has to offer.  It’s fun and exciting, and nerve-wrecking at times. We’ve been quite fortunate, too, as our realtor has been incredible.  She’s listened to what we’re looking for and has been able to give us invaluable insight with each neighborhood and the market fluctuations.

Yesterday, we continued our search and though we haven’t found a place just yet, our realtor hit a home run with our lunch spot.  Did I mention that she’s great with people and understands their needs?  Knowing my gluten allergy she took us to a restaurant that would be accommodating and delicious.  California Pizza Kitchen recently updated their menu, and they highlighted the specific dishes that are gluten-free (just look for the “GF” symbol). Our waitress, Lauren, was extremely pleasant while going through the new menu, and when questioned about ingredients in specific dishes she knew why a dish was unsafe and the times she didn’t know she discussed it with the chef.  I was so appreciative of the extra effort she put in to ensure my meal was safe, and she never rushed through even though it was lunch hour and every table was filled with a line out the door.  Currently, the main dishes that are gluten-free are their salads, and I’m not talking about your typical Greek or Garden, I’m talking off-the-wall types like their Moroccan-Spiced Chicken salad.  You get a salad that is such a unique blend of fresh ingredients.  I’ve never been a huge fan of mixing fruits and veggies, but the cranberries and dates were a great compliment to the beets and butternut squash, and the roasted almonds added a great crunch.  Even the champagne vinaigrette dressing was a sweet and savory blend. The spice part of the meal came through with the chicken.  Simple yet packs a flavorful punch.

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They also give two options, a half or full size.  Of course I opted for the full size. I certainly plan on going back, and right now they’re offering a special ‘Thank You’ promotion where they give you an envelope and the next time you visit your waiter opens it to see what your gift is.  I would go back even without the promotion, but it is a nice little bonus!

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NOT GF – But Wow!

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a happy hour with my colleagues.  We had reached a big team goal and met up at Havana Bar and Restaurant in New Hope to celebrate.  Normally I would tell you about the gluten-free finds at some restaurant, but this is not a typical post. My experience was one where I had a great time mingling with my teammates and in the process I was just amazed at the size of these gigantic onion rings that were covered in bread crumbs, and deep-fried in gluten laden oil.  Not gluten-free but I just had to share a picture of these simply for their size and the huge bowl of cheese for dipping.

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Wawa to the Rescue

It’s 8am, and as we head out for the day’s adventure I find out we are picking up sandwiches instead of stopping somewhere later in the day.  Of course I have my snacks on me (I’ve been known to carry a grocery bag in my car or snacks in my purse at all times), but a bag of nuts and dried fruit only hold you over for so long.  Now what?  Queue Wawa.

Wawa is the perfect spot to stop in the morning hours to help you prep your day.  Coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and of course the ever reliable hoagie. Until recently I didn’t think a Wawa hoagie could be an option, but it is!!  In the last two months on 3 separate occasions I have been pleasantly surprised by the staff, and their willingness to accommodate the gluten-free diet*.  They still require you to enter your order in the kiosk, and then you give them the number so they can take precaution against cross-contamination. They change their gloves, use a clean work area, and put the contents of the hoagie order in a nice resealable container minus the roll.  They even package the mayo or mustard in a convenient little container too.  All you need to do is provide the roll.

Maybe they will even have a gluten-free roll as an option one day soon??

Thanks Wawa for allowing me to have the closest thing to a hoagie 🙂

*Always make sure you explain your needs to that you have a safe meal.

Gluten-Free Starbucks

From December 13-16 Starbucks is having their annual ‘buy one get one’ holiday drink special – valid from 2-5pm.  For all the coffee lovers out there, you will be happy to hear that you can enjoy a holiday treat too.  I called the company yesterday, 12/13/12, and spoke to a representative.  He confirmed the following holiday drinks listed on the promotion to be gluten-free:

Peppermint Mocha

Caramel Brulée Latte

-Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino Blended Beverage

For me Starbucks is a bit pricey, but if you’re able to share with someone it is a nice treat once a year 😉

Gluten Free French Fries at Five Guys

I’ve heard that Five Guys offers gluten-free fast food, but I wanted to confirm with a representative regarding their french fries.  I always ask if they use the same frying oil for other gluten products (chicken fingers, onion rings) to avoid cross contamination.  Turns out they keep a dedicated fryer for their fries.  Even their burgers are gluten-free!  I suggest bringing a gluten-free hamburger bun (Udi’s makes a decent one) the next time a burger and fries craving hits.

Below you will find the response from Five Guys (research on 11/14/12):

Dear Ann Regan,

Thank you for taking the time to write in to Five Guys, we appreciate you taking the time to do so. We have received your inquire in regards to the presence of gluten in our products.

Currently, Five Guys DOES NOT offer a gluten-free bun, as we have yet to find a bun we feel meets the flavor of our burger. However, I’d like to advise you that it is absolutely possible for you to order your burger without the bun. Our buns and the malt vinegar condiment are the only products we offer that DO include gluten. Our burger patties and hot dogs DO NOT contain gluten.

Five Guys french fries also DO NOT contain gluten. They are simply potatoes soaked in water and fried in refined peanut oil using fryers that are ONLY used for French fries.

I am happy to have assisted you with your inquiry.

Thanks for your interest in Five Guys. Please enjoy us often!

Shake Shack in Philly

Shake Shack in Philly

Since the opening of the Shake Shack in Philly I’ve heard great things about their gluten-free menu and was quite eager to try a grilled hot dog or burger.  That chance came one Friday night as I ventured into the city to sit (or stand as it can be a bit crowded still), and test the place out.  The wait went fairly quickly for an 8:30pm arrival time, and though the menu is small I couldn’t decide between the Shack Burger and the Shack-cago hot dog.  Such problems!  I chose the Shack-cago hot dog, which included all the flavorful toppings a hot dog should have:  ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, peppers, onions, and lettuce.  I brought my own hot dog bun so that I could truly enjoy the dining experience.  Some may argue this is an inconvenience, but living gluten-free you learn to be flexible, and I’m OK with doing a little pre-planning.  Over time I would like to think they will offer a gluten-free hamburger or hot dog bun so you won’t have to carry a gluten-free roll in your purse.

While I could have used more pickles, the hot dog was cooked oh so well.  I love having the grill marks left horizontally on the meat, with the heat of the grill still radiating off.  Though I was happily enjoying a gluten-free hot dog, my friend who ordered the hamburger stated the burger didn’t make top 5 as it was a little undercooked.  I can respect that, and would think this isn’t a common occurrence.  Overall, for me the best part was that I could order french fries, and not just any type, but CHEESE fries (which is why the main picture is cheese fries).  They stated the fryer was a dedicated for french fries to prevent cross contamination.  I would suggest to ask this when you go to make sure this procedure is still in place.

So this may seem quite simple.  Hog dog – check.  Fries – check. Drink – check.  What made this place stand out was the service.  Once I mentioned the hot dog was to have no bun the cashier immediately asked if it was gluten-free.  I was quite surprised.  After reading other reviews I found out one of the managers has celiac disease, and they take the necessary precautions to avoid cross contamination.  So if you plan to eat at the Shake Shack anytime soon know that you can have a perfectly grilled hot dog, french fries and no gluten.

Bridget’s – Ambler, PA

After a long work week where do you typically find yourself?  Happy Hour of course!  This includes starting the night off with a refreshing drink to wash away the stress from work, and to enjoy the company of friends you haven’t seen in a while.   On this particular night I found myself with a dear friend at a local restaurant in Ambler, PA – Bridget’s Steak House.  What started out as drinks evolved into a welcomed dinner and more drinks (just look at their wine list, you would have done the same too).

Eating out should be a pleasant time, but for celiacs and celiacs alike, it usually poses some concern when ordering.  You always wonder if the staff understands what gluten free means, and not just the specific ingredients but the way it is prepared too.  Cross contamination is as much of a problem as the ingredients are, and it is difficult to convey this to busy waiters and staff.  This was not the case at Bridget’s Steak House.  Upon first learning that I required a special meal the manager was most helpful in discussing with the chef my diet restriction, and then he also directed one of the waitresses who understood the diet to speak with me.  They were more than willing to customize any dish I wanted.  

Quite confident in the service, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to eat a hot meal.  I chose their chicken dish that included goat cheese, prosciutto, asparagus and a substitution of the risotto for their mashed potatoes.  This sounds quite simple but don’t be fooled.  The dish had an artistic look, which captured my attention, as it was layered so that each bit embraced all the flavors and textures of each component.  The chicken was cooked and seasoned perfectly and was smoothered with a warm goat cheese, and topped off with the proscuitto.  This made for a salty and creamy combination of the cheese and ham, with the chicken being cooked so that the juices made your mouth water.  The mashed potatoes offered a smooth and creamy texture with a parmesan cheese mixed throughout, while the aspargus provided the crunch aspect of the meal.  To say I enjoyed the dish would be an understatement.   

Experiences such as this reminds me that there are times when I can order a full meal and not let worry prevent me from savoring it.  For all of you that are skeptical of ordering even a salad I hope the exceptional service provided by Bridget’s Steak House altered your perspective in working with the staff.  It is not easy to discuss your  diet contraints, but there are places that want to serve you and allow you to enjoy the finer foods.  Always use your discretion, but if you feel comfortable enough order something decadent as I did please, please, please seize the chance!!