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Posts Tagged ‘restaurant review’

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?

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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!

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