Where to eat if you’ve given up wheat
The reason behind that weight loss, ironically, is that you’re eating too much—wheat, that is. Living with a chronic condition is never easy, but take heart. Gluten-free has gone mainstream,which means you have more wheatless options on the menu. Some of our favorites:
White linen: MiLa. Chefs Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing come by their velvet sauces through patient reduction, not flour. The French-trained pair has such a light touch that they recently ran a six–course tasting menu almostentirely gluten-free (save for a dessert tart).
Their vibrant, gorgeous ingredients shine in the full-bodied butternut squash soup (topped with nutty mushroom chips and fresh crabmeat) and caramel-seared scallops in a whipped celery purée. Save room for the lush vanilla rice pudding, topped with rum-soaked figs and dates that make a rich syrup.
New: Root Restaurant. This rustic-chic new restaurant is the perfect setting for veteran chef Phillip Lopez’ playful menu. As a gluten-free diner, you have full run of the charcuterieand every house-made sausage except the morcilla, which contains breadcrumbs. Whichever sausage you choose, it’s plated with jeweled cuts of Korean melon, pineapple and plums that have beeninfused with spices like star anise, cloves and cardamom. (Sadly, you’ll have to pass on the companion pretzel rolls).
At Root, all the salads are dressed gluten-free, and you’ll have your choice of entrées, except for the brioche-crusted fish. Be sure to save room for their fun, amazing ambrosia; it’s a painter’s palette of candied citrus peel, gently browned meringues, house-made marshmallows, ruby pomegranate seeds and cardamom-poached cherries. All tasty ingredients are scattered on a fruity, jellied sheet that thins out with the melting scoop of sorbet.
Casual: Tru Burger. This streamlined burger joint hasn’t forgotten you: Tru Burger gets props for offering gluten-free, house-madehamburger buns to cradle your all-beef patty and choice of toppings. Their chewy bun has the feel of a toasted, sturdy pancake. The hard part? Resisting the breadcrumb-coated onion rings.
Gastropub: Capdeville. This masculine restaurant, with its assertive bar, burgers and the city’s most decadent mac and cheese, doesn’t seem like an obvious place to eat gluten-free. But you can get those burgers without the bun, and ask for salad with the caramel cider or charred onion vinaigrettes. Besides that, start with a sweetly earthy tomato fennel soup, a chunky purée brushed with a swirl of basil pistou, and end with an impossibly moist flourless chocolate cake, drizzled with winter-spiced blackberry sauce.
Ethnic: Wandering Buddha. This Korean pop-up, operating behind the Hi-Ho Lounge, would seem to easily be gluten-free. Truth is, you should speak up, because conventional soy sauce contains wheat. For you, the Wandering Buddha will replace soy sauce with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos; the addition of Korean spices makes this doctored sauce less salty and more sesame-infused.
You’ll want to resist the buckwheat noodles (they use buckwheat that’s been milled with regular wheat), as well as the scallion pancakes and fried dumplings, but there’s plenty left on your list. Try the rice cake dish (surprisingly, the chewy rice noodles are bamboo-thick, and stirred with tender-crisp veggies) or the braised tofu, paired with a mountain of steamed rice, fiery sesame-tossed greens and kimchi.
Restaurants with gluten-free menus, or marked GF options: Dick and Jenny’s, Bourbon House, Muriel’s and Carmo Café. Mark Twain’s Pizza Landing and Naked Pizza offer pies with gluten-free crusts.
Tips on Eating Out Gluten-Free
- Talk to your doc. How strict does your diet have to be? That partly depends on your condition. “Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder [where] the body mistakes gluten as a harmful substance,” says Ginger Bouvier, M.Ed., a licensed nutritionist and registered dietician.“A less severe gluten intolerance,” she says, “doesn’t involve the immune system.”
- Know your restaurant. If you have celiac disease, know that “it’s difficult to eat at a restaurant without ingesting at least traces of gluten,” Bouvier says.A little may find its way to your plate because most restaurants don’t have separate facilities to make their gluten-free dishes. There’s more leeway if you’re gluten-intolerant, but still: go where the wait staff really knows the menu, the kitchen is eager to help and call ahead to see what’s safe to eat. On the flip side, tell them what you can and can’t have. “When in doubt…stick to simple items like baked potatoes and roasted meat,” Bouvier says.
- Look for restaurants that make almost everything from scratch. Gluten can lurk in commercially processed sausages, soy sauce, hot dogs and fries.
- Just because it’s wheat-free doesn’t always mean it’s gluten-free. Bouvier says that people with gluten allergies can also react to “related proteins” found in wheat, barley, rye andoats.
MiLa at the Renaissance Pere Marquette, 817 Common St.,(504) 412-2580
Root Restaurant, 200 Julia St., (504) 252-9480
Tru Burger, 8115 Oak St., (504) 218-7285
Capdeville, 520 Capdeville St., (504) 371-5161
Wandering Buddha at the Hi–Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., (504) 945-9428