Before our first little peapod makes her big arrival, we’ve been trying to heed the advice of our already-parent friends to get out and about while we can sans baby. We’ve hit two excellent, new-ish restaurants in the last month that restore my faith that having celiac disease and being gluten-free doesn’t have to be the end of eating out.
First up, we checked out the new little Bistro Allium in our ‘hood of West Linn. The chef is well known Pascal Chureau, formerly of Fenouil. The ambiance is amazing; the food even better.
I emailed Pascal about a week before we were planning to come in, and he assured me that there were many things on the menu I could eat and that he’d be more than happy to help me out when we arrived. And boy, he didn’t disappoint. I think the steak I had was one of the best I’ve ever had – ever. The really cool thing about Allium, besides the yummy food and gluten-free friendly service, is their deep commitment to local, farm fresh foods. They source most of their food from local farms and host these awesome “Neighborhood Dinners” once a month that feature amazing food from local farmers.
Up next, we went to the newly opened Irving Street Kitchen in the Pearl (downtown Portland). I have to say the gluten-free service we received was the best I’ve ever had. I, again, emailed the chef in advance and asked about gluten-free options. Sarah was amazing, assurred me she knew what gluten was and that there were many options for me. She also asked that I tell her the date and time we’d be coming in so she could be ready.
When we got there and were seated, the server already knew — without me having to say anything — about my gluten-free needs and even told me that his son can’t eat gluten and so was well equiped to help me navigate the menu. The food was excellent and the vibe is fun and hip. They, too, like to source their food locally and even do a cool thing with their wines where they have some “on barrel” — kind of like beer on tap, except they have select wines in large quantities in a barrel from the winery. Super cool!
I’ve found that eating out gluten-free in and around Portland is surprisingly easy — if you take a few key steps….
1) email the chef or contact the restaurant in advance to check out what they know about gluten and if they can accomodate your needs
2) stick with the nicer restaurants that acutally make their food from stratch — that way they know exactly what’s in ther dishes they make. It’s way harder for restaurants that rely on pre-packaged or frozen food to help you out (plus from scratch is always better, anyway!)
3) get to the restaurant at a non-peak time. I try and be really realistic when it comes to eating out — preparing food for large groups of people every night is hard work and as much as people want to help, I always try and keep in mind that in a commercial kitchen, there’s a lot going on… so I try and go when it’s less busy and the chef actually might have time to pay a little extra attention to little ole me and my food.
There are lots and lots of gluten-free friendly spots in Portland, and I’m so grateful! Happy eating, everyone. 🙂