Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gluten-free Restaurant List for Portland

I went to Australia earlier this year and did quite a bit of research before I left.  Local blogs in Melbourne and Sydney proved to be really helpful, along with dining sites that had gluten-free search options.  I thought I'd give back to the community by making a traveler's dining guide for Portland.  I'll only list the restaurants that I have personally eaten at and which have strong adherence to gluten-free safety.  There's a more comprehensive list over at Gluten-free Portland dot org.

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery - This dedicated gluten-free bakery serves bread, pastries, coffee, pizzas, and sandwiches.

Tula Bakery - An excellent dedicated gluten-free bakery in Northeast Portland.

Hawthorne Fish House - Almost all the food served at this establishment is gluten-free.  See the full review here.

Deschutes Brewery - They bake their own gluten-free buns and bread sticks in a separate kitchen, and they brew their own gluten-free beer!

Iorio Restaurant - This Italian restaurant serves GF pasta as well as a whole host of other Italian dishes you've been craving!  Their fryer is dedicated gluten-free, so feel free to indulge in the calamari.  See a full restaurant review here.

Andina - Peruvian food with a full gluten-free menu.  See full review here.

Fratelli Cucina - I found Fratelli Cucina through Triumph Dining's The Essential Gluten-free Restaurant Guide.  Our server was gluten intolerant himself, so he really took care of us.  They are not a dedicated gluten-free establishment, but they have both risotto and polenta on the menu that are typically made gluten-free.

Clyde Common - This is a trendy upscale establishment downtown.  See the full review here.

Mississippi Pizza - Gluten-free pizza baked in a dedicated oven and GF beer.

Dick's Kitchen - They can serve any of their burgers or sandwiches on a gluten-free bun.  See the full review here.

There are many more out there, and I'll be sure to update this list as I try new places.  For a list of additional restaurants with gluten-free options, click here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Clyde Common Restaurant Review

What a difference a server makes.

I like Clyde Common.  The food has always been amazing, and their mixed drinks are equally amazing.  I still remember the first time I went there.  It was New Year's Eve, and for some reason the mood struck me to get a Bloody Mary.  I almost never order that drink - it's usually too sweet or salty for me.  Well, this one was made from a chili sauce.  It was spicy and perfect.
 Another reason to like Clyde Common is that many of their dishes are gluten-free without having to make substitutions.  They aren't trying for it; they are just really high-end.  The food is cheffy, which typically means they don't rely on a lot of wheat products.  Wheat is boring and mundane, after all.  Gluten is passé. 

So I took a gluten-free friend to Clyde Common this winter.  We got our fancy cocktails and we checked out the dinner menu.  There were several things that looked doable as a gluten-free dish.  I told our server about our dietary restraints and then said we had picked out a few things that we thought would work gluten-free, and he should let us know if any of it wouldn't work.  (Caveat: this is not my typical strategy, nor is it the best one for informing the server of a food allergy.)

The place was crowded, so we waited a while for the food to arrive.  Once it did we were pretty hungry.  However, I looked at my plate and suddenly doubted my choice.  Everything seemed saucier than I imagined from the description.  As you can imagine, sauce is something that strikes my heart with fear.  I caught my server's eye and asked him if he was sure that everything we had been served was gluten-free?  He got this blasé expression on his face and told me, "Well, I think everything should be gluten-free."

Then I gave him this look.  Internally, I was formulating my response.  However, a verbal response proved unnecessary.  My look said it all.  My look said, "Do you really expect me to eat something at your restaurant that could make me sick?"  Suddenly, before I could verbalize my thought, the server got a stricken expression on his face.  He was suddenly scared of me.  He quickly pulled himself together and blurted out that he would go talk to the chef and double-check!

He was right back.  He assured us that he had consulted with the chef and that everything was 100% gluten-free.  He seemed really relieved that he hadn't given me reason to cause him bodily harm.  We indulged heartily in our winter repasts.

I wasn't very impressed by that customer/server interaction, so I didn't go back for several months.  Then, the other day I happened by there and remembered that they usually had several things I could eat.  My plan A had fallen through, so I decided to go for it.  They had a beautiful chilled celery soup that they served without croutons to make it gluten-free.

 They also have some snacks like almonds and olives I could eat.
And the server was very, very helpful.  I will be going there again.  It was delicious.

Have you been to Clyde Common?  What was your experience?