Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ Category

This restaurant is now unfortunately CLOSED.

We have some friends that like to eat good food. And try new places. Last week he mentioned a new place that I had never heard of. It’s called The Outlook Cafe and it’s located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, specifically in the View Larger Map“>Mariposa community. For some this may be a hike, but not us!

After the initial suggestion by our friends, like always, I googled it to see how Renee and husband-friendly their menu might be. It looked like there were probably a couple of options for both of us, so I figured we’d try it. (I think my husband’s vegetarian-ism can be harder than my celiac/gluten free at times, since there are usually even fewer vegetarian items to choose from and most are low on protein.) Plus the beer, wine and hard cider(!) list looked enticing.

As usual, I figured I might as well try emailing and/or calling ahead of time to see how they might handle my needs. I shot off my standard email about what I can and cannot eat as well as direct inquiries about a couple of the dishes that I figured would be options. Within hours, I had a response from the lovely Linda. She asked about any additional allergies or intolerances and told me that they could modify just about anything for me! Woo-hoo! That always makes one feel good. She asked us to make reservations and note the need for gluten free at that time. And it so happened that when I called to make those reservations, Linda answered the phone and when I told her who I was she said that she was just thinking of me as she was making a soup, thinking more about the ingredients this time around. Rest assured though that pretty much everything is made in-house from fresh ingredients. Their bread (off-limits to celiacs, of course) is made locally as well as a couple of other things.

Upon our arrival, Linda greeted us and showed us to our cozy corner table. The atmosphere was wonderful and warm, even on a cold Friday night. There is a patio for the warmer months that looks nice as well. Periodically they have live music too, just check their Facebook page for updates. Of course, immediately we all were perusing the beverage list. I was interested in the variety of ciders they had, some of which I hadn’t had before. (There were only four ciders, but that’s three or four more than most places!) I went with a Fox Barrel Pear Cider. For the beer lovers accompanying you, there is a large selection of local beers with a few switching out seasonally. And local wines too.

For my entrée, I was wavering between the Pan-Seared Stuffed Salmon and the Southwest Broiled Shrimp. (Check their Facebook page for their up-to-date menus.) After talking with Linda and her husband, the chef, who also came out to speak to me about my selection, I chose the Pan-Seared Stuffed Salmon. The crab meat in the stuffing is real crab meat, not the fake-gluten-containing kind, so no worries there.

Before our meals came out, she brought us “Let Them Eat Bread” which consisted of fresh baguette, herbed butters and an eggplant spread. And they didn’t forget me! They brought me out a plate of gluten free crackers – they looked like Crunchmaster brand – to enjoy with the butters and spreads. My companions allowed me to scoop out a bit of each butter and spread first so that I could enjoy them as well, prior to any contamination. Despite generally not liking eggplant all that much, I think that spread was my favorite.

Now, on to the entrees! Below is my Pan Seared Stuffed Salmon. It was absolutely delightful!

The others at the table enjoyed the Hungarian Goulash, Southwest Broiled Shrimp and Portobello Stroganoff. No pictures, sorry, I was only interested in mine! Ha! Everyone enjoyed their meals thoroughly.

After that, Linda twisted our arms and made us order dessert. The rest of the group had some heavenly looking Blondies with caramel syrup, chocolate and butterscotch chips and whipped cream on the side. There was one item on the dessert menu that looked like it could be made gluten free and that was the Stuffed Apple. Except, it usually came with butterscotch chips too and often times butterscotch chips contain barley by way of their flavorings. Instead they asked me if I could have brandy – yep, sure enough! So I ended up with a baked apple stuffed with caramel, nuts and ice cream bathing in a warm brandy sauce. Heavenly!

We also enjoyed an after dinner glass of port, of which she has a couple of reasonably priced selections. My husband and I shared a local New Mexico port which was nice.

All in all, a wonderful meal with wonderfully attentive service! So, if you’re gluten free, be sure to make the drive out to see Linda and her husband for a great meal at The Outlook Cafe. Just be sure to call and let her know you’re coming, I’m sure she’ll treat you well.

And here’s a local restaurant critic and his review to check out as well.

Read Full Post »

For a couple of months now, one of our friends kept mentioning that we needed to go check out Casa Vieja in Corrales, NM since they indicate gluten free selections on their menu. We had never been there but our friends had and they enjoyed it. So we finally made a date of it with two other couples.

Of course we also had to stop by the Corrales Bistro Brewery for a barley apertif (beer, not gluten free) before our meal. They do not serve gluten free beer, but I enjoyed a nice glass of sangria while we discussed beer, hops, bonds and zombie movies – yes, an odd conversation, but considering the company… (kidding!). Unfortunately they did not have any of their own beers on tap that day but they were serving up other New Mexican brews. It was our first time there and the bar seemed like a local hang-out, but in a good way. They also had a nice deck out back but since the weather was still quite steamy, we stayed inside.

After the barley imbibing, we drove down the road a short distance to Casa Vieja. The restaurant is located in an old adobe building that was once a family home, originally built in the 1700’s. It has a nice patio fronting the main street and our reservations were for the patio. Luckily it was quite shady and the sun was starting to sink behind the restaurant and trees. The flies did get a bit bothersome at one point in the evening because there was no breeze but I don’t think they ate much! Unfortunately flies are part of the rural Rio Grande valley. Just drink some more wine and you won’t notice them!

We enjoyed some sparkling wine (1/2 off on bottles on Saturday nights!) and part of our group enjoyed appetizers, although I did not. The sangria and sparkling wine was enough of an appetizer! As usual, I notified our waiter of my need for a gluten free meal as soon as he took our drink order. Of course I had browsed through the menu online (click on ‘From The Kitchen’) already. (The gluten free items are notated online as well as on the menu they hand you at the restaurant.) I had a few items in mind and asked a few more questions about my two preferred entrees, either the Grilled Hangar Steak or the Cast Iron Seared Scallops. (Again, I eat meat when dining out although my husband does not.) The scallops came with potato croquettes that our waiter told me they would leave off the plate, since they were not gluten free. That left me with two sides of cauliflower ‘stuff’ and since I am not a huge fan of cauliflower, I decided to go with the steak. It came with a vegetable-stuffed, roasted poblano and a potato gratin. When I asked, the waiter did double-check that the gratin was indeed gluten free – no bread crumbs or flour in a roux. Our waiter answered all my questions and I felt confident with his answers. And my meal was wonderful!

We were all so stuffed that we did not partake in dessert although there were a couple that sounded wonderful, like the Red Chile Buttermilk Flan (without the funnel cake, of course) or the Black Cherry-Port Chocolate Souffle OR the always delicious Vanilla Creme Brulee. (Speaking of Creme Brulee, have you seen Shirley’s Creme Brulee ice cream? Bookmarked!) There are also some other menu items that I would like to try, like the Duck Confit Tamale appetizer, so we’ll have to go back some time soon. Maybe I’ll just order appetizers and dessert! Oh, and some wine too! Who’s in?

Read Full Post »

Please note that the name of this restaurant has changed to La Cueva Cafe. Same location, same owners, same ability to accommodate gluten free!

I will apologize now, I did not take any pictures of our wonderful food. Last week we drove up to Taos for the day with my in-laws and my mother-in-law brought a tour book with her. She was reading it as we traveled and she discovered that Rellenos Cafe could do gluten free and vegan food! Woo-hoo! Perfect for us! So it was our first stop to refuel before heading to the Pueblo and the plaza.

Rellenos Cafe is located at 135 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, right on a corner. But be careful because you can easily pass it by as you go up the hill traveling north on Paseo into the central part of town. It is in a fairly nondescript building on the right just before you pass the old traditional plaza and it says “Wheat Free and Gluten Free” in big yellow letters on the front window. It is a very small place that looks almost “dive-y” with only a couple of parking spaces in the asphalt lot out front. But be sure to go in, you’ll be happy you did.

Despite the looming possibility of a summer thunderstorm, we chose to sit out on the cute little patio surrounded by coyote fence and gardens beyond. Partly because it is very small inside the restaurant, we’re talking like 4 tables and they were mostly full, but also because it was still nice outside and we had been in the car for a couple of hours. The patio was a little loud at times with big trucks clambering up the hill on the main road just beyond but it wasn’t too bad. I’ll definitely chose to sit on the patio again.

Right off, I mentioned to the waiter that I required a gluten free meal and he said that it was no problem, he would help me out. And right after he got our drink order taken care of, he did just that. He was very familiar with the entire menu and what was safe and what was not. He even stated that they would make things in a separate pan for me, without being prompted. He answered all my questions to my satisfaction and I felt totally taken care of.

There are many options, but it is typical New Mexican food, just with a sophisticated twist. So there are tacos, enchiladas, tamales and even the namesake chile rellenos are a gluten free option as they don’t batter and deep fry theirs. For me it was toss-up between the Seafood Enchiladas in Chipotle Cream Sauce or their signature Chile Rellenos en Nogada (stuffed with beef, raisins and walnuts and served in a walnut-brandy cream sauce). I ended up choosing the Seafood Enchiladas, which were wonderful! (Remember, I eat meat, but my husband does not. And I typically will choose meat, especially seafood, when eating out since I don’t make it. I apologize to the hard-core vegetarians for discussing meat.)

My husband ordered the Cheese Chile Rellenos and I asked the waiter to make that dish gluten free as well (separate pan) so that I could taste them. Both dishes were delicious. Enchiladas are typically stacked (layered) here in New Mexico, instead of rolled, and these were no exception. They were filled with shrimp, lobster and crab meat and smothered in a wonderful chipotle cream sauce and cilantro. On the side was pico de gallo, rice and pinto beans. The pinto beans were perfectly cooked too, they were nice and firm and not at all mushy. No refried beans here! (Although I do like refried beans.) The beans were wonderful with the extra cream sauce. Also, both their red chile and green chile sauces are gluten free, which is rare, typically they are made with flour. Our server was kind enough to bring some additional chile out and I enjoyed some of the green chile on my beans also. Yum!

Just as we were finishing our meal, the sky finally opened up and we escaped into the restaurant to wait out the gully-washer of a storm. While waiting, my family ordered some sopaipillas, which are not gluten free. Apparently they were delicious too.

While we waited in the now empty restaurant, we talked to our friendly waiter. We asked why they decided to provide gluten free meals and he told us that the owner’s wife had discovered she had issues with gluten when she was trying to become pregnant. When she removed gluten from her diet, she finally became pregnant after a lot of trying. This is a common refrain among celiacs and those with gluten intolerance, even though the Ob/Gyn community still does not embrace it as a possibility despite the studies showing that it is common. (Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom recently posted about this very topic. While you’re there, be sure to watch the video of Alice Bast from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness discussing her infertility problems and her battle to get diagnosed with celiac disease.)

Back to the food. The entrees are reasonably priced. We were there for a late lunch but I believe the same menu is in effect for both lunch and dinner. Full entrees ranged between $7-$13. So, if you happen to be visiting Taos, be sure to stop by Rellenos Cafe. I know we’ll be back!

Read Full Post »

The Gluten Intolerance Group recently announced that The Melting Pot had joined the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) and launched a gluten free menu. Conveniently, last week was my birthday, so we decided to go for my birthday dinner since neither of us had ever been there.

Initially I was a little hesitant as I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a guinea pig while they got ramped up on their gluten free services. But then I figured someone had to be first and decided to go for it. I made our reservation through their free online system and made a note that I required the gluten free menu. A couple of days prior the manager called to confirm the reservation and the need for a gluten free meal.

When we arrived, they noted again that we needed a gluten free menu* and took us to our secluded table for two. This table had only one burner for one pot of fondue at a time, which should usually suffice for the normal party of two. But after discussing our needs with our server, they decided to move us to a larger table so we could have two burners. The main reason for this was so we could each have our own separate entrée. As I have mentioned, I am not a total vegetarian but more of a flexitarian and thus I generally eat meat when I go out, but rarely cook it at home. My husband is a lacto-ovo vegetarian. And while their vegetarian option is great, when the gluten containing items are removed there isn’t much variety left and I wanted my husband to be able to have the full experience too. So they graciously provided us with a larger, two-burner table.

Shortly after we were seated at our new table, the manager, Tony, stopped by to check on me. We had a nice conversation about the new menu and how excited he was about it. He also told me that the next time we made a reservation to just mention that we needed a two burner table and they would accommodate us. I also mentioned to him that I had brought my own bread for dipping (shoved in my practically empty purse) and he said that was great and that they are looking into providing gluten free bread but are waiting until they see how the new menu goes over. He said the logistics of providing gluten free bread are difficult as they don’t know how much they would need and don’t want to leave it sitting in the freezer for a long period of time, waiting on the next gluten free customer, but that it may be an option in the future.

For our cheese course we shared the Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue with cauliflower, celery, carrots and apples. (As noted on the menu, you should request that it be made with cornstarch instead of flour.) I had also brought along some of my own bread and we dipped that as well. It was heavenly! The next course was the salads. We both had the California Salad and it was super yummy (although heavy on the dressing).

For our entrée, I ordered the Signature Selection and my husband got The Vegetarian. The Signature Selection typically comes with filet mignon, shrimp, teriyaki sirloin, chicken breast and salmon. It is noted on the gluten free menu that you should request a substitute for the teriyaki sirloin and so I requested scallops. We cooked each in our own separate fondue pots to avoid gluten contamination in my pot as well as meat contamination in the vegetarian pot. The dipping sauces they provide are also gluten free except for the teriyaki.

For desert, we chose The Original, which is a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter. The chocolate fondues usually come with a lot of gluten filled items for dipping (cake, brownie bites, Rice Krispy Treats) and I wanted my husband to be able to have all the other goodies, so the manager suggested that we could order one dessert but place it in two separate pots, one for me and one for my husband, thus eliminating the cross-contamination issue. It was wonderful! They brought me strawberries, cherries and bananas for dipping and I had also brought along some cubes of lemon pound cake that I had made at home. The menu says that they will provide plain marshmallows and pineapple also, but they didn’t give us those items, and I was so happy with the strawberries and bananas that I didn’t miss them. In fact, I asked for more bananas because they tasted so good with the chocolate and peanut butter fondue.

All in all, it was wonderful! And as far as I can tell, I was not contaminated. Our server, Les, was very conscientious and in fact, he had a shellfish allergy so he seemed to understand allergies and noted that he did not want to get me sick. My husband and I were both completely stuffed and loved it so I am sure we will be going back another time. If you plan on going, be sure to join Club Fondue through their website for special offers and a free chocolate fondue for two.

Kudos to The Melting Pot and especially Tony and Les at the Albuquerque location!

* One side note – in order to view the menu on the website, you need to type in a zip code to get the restaurant  nearest you and from there you can click on the ‘menu’ button to see the different menus. The gluten free menu is listed separately. It initially took me a bit to figure this out.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 132 other followers