I cook at home every day so it’s pretty amazing how much dining out I did over the past eight weeks. Happily most of my experiences have resulted in great meals. There were some little glitches along the way – mostly due to my personal dining quirks but on the whole I, and the rest of my party, was pleased.
Pura Vida – Euclid Ave. Downtown CLE
Pura Vida is a frequent ‘go to’ place when our family is in town as it provides a nice selection of options covering all dietary issues. Our group typically includes traditional diners, gluten-free diners, vegetarian, and/or vegan – sometimes these overlap. We like the creative menu at Pura Vida, the range of options, their care of preparation, the bar and wine menu and the dessert options. Sadly they no longer offer a g-f beer option. For this dining experience I enjoyed the Butternut Squash Bisque, the Simple Salad and the Braised Beef Short Rib. Our table shared Brussels Sprouts and Fingerling Potatoes both g-f options. To finish I had the house made marshmallow gelato !
Harvest Kitchen – Solon
There are a multitude g-f options to choose from on the ‘Winter’ Harvest Kitchen Menu. Options change with season so there is always something new and appealing being offered. This winter I have enjoyed sharing with my table mates the Artisinal Cheese Platter (bring your own crackers), Oysters, Kale Salad, and the Hot Peppers. My entree selections have included the Burger (minus the bun), Hangar Steak and the Grilled Rain Crow Ranch Pork Chop. With these dishes the diner chooses two sides among the many offerings including roasted carrots or asparagus, brussels sprouts, cheddar grits, and spaghetti squash. On one of the nights we dined the special was sauteed rapini, a favorite!
It is important to note that the kitchen preparation is traditional – not fully g-f so please be your own advocate and discuss your needs with your server. My experience has been positive in their attention to detail.
Barroco Grill – Lakewood
This was our first time dining at Barroco. One of our house guests found Barroco after an on-line search for Arepas. After a call to the restaurant confirmed that gluten-free options are available we headed over to do a test run on the menu. We were not disappointed. Our choices included guacamole, a vegetarian version of the cheese dip, Arepas Mexicana, Arepas Burger, Vegetable filled Arepa, savory plantains and sweet plantains, yucca fries, and really great margaritas. If I remember correctly they do not offer a true gluten-free beer on the menu. The restaurant is pretty tiny but the back patio is enclosed and heated and we were comfortable. The guitarist playing background music added to the festive atmosphere without being overwhelming to conversation.
Anatolia Cafe – Cleveland Hts.
Before this past December my last visit to Anatolia was about 2011. At the time I was struggling to eat in restaurants because of my g-f requirement and while I was able to cobble together a meal at Anatolia it was not very g-f friendly or knowledgeable. All that has changed in the past 6 years. Anatolia was recommended to me recently by someone who was dining there, saw a the notations on the menu of g-f options and thought about my needs. To start our party of four shared hummus, bean salad, stuffed grape leaves and olives with feta cheese. Entrees included Lamb Adana, Stuffed Eggplant, Okra and Lamb, Stuffed Cabbage, Vegetarian Stew and Falafel. Rice was served on the side to accompany my g-f tastings. The consensus around the table was that each dish was wonderful. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive. While everyone enjoyed their cocktails I had to be satisfied with my club soda and lime since there is no g-f beer option on the menu. The next time I dine there however I will ask them to allow me to cross the street and bring some beer from The Wine Spot. If that is not an option, we’ll get our dinners to go and eat them at The Wine Spot so I can have my Bard’s with dinner.
The Fairmount – Cleveland Hts.
The cold Bard’s (g-f) beer offered at The Fairmount is just one of the many reasons to dine there if you have g-f dietary needs where one of those needs includes beer! The staff is welcoming, helpful, and super friendly. The food is amazing! Some of my favorite menu items to start include the cast iron brussels sprouts, cheese and meat platters (bring your crackers or order an accompanying g-f flat bread), numerous options for salads (add a protein). For entrees I like the flatiron steak (no frites – no dedicated fryer), grilled lamb lollipops, The Fairmount’s amazing burger (no bun – lettuce wrap available), tacos in corn tortilla (or lettuce wrap), and g-f flatbread options round out the menu!
Once again, as is really always the case, make yourself known to the staffer serving you so that they can address your personal needs! ADVOCATE for you:)
Lopez on Lee – Cleveland Hts.
Ahhhhh, Mexican!! What can I say —- I love mexican food maybe best of all options and Lopez offers some truly amazing delectables. You can get a frosty cold bottle of Green’s beer or a margarita to accompany your guacamole, chips, and escabeche! Try the escabeche – ‘pickly’ vegetables – just the right amount of crispness and tartness! Start with shrimp and grits or charred caesar salad (other salads too) and continue on with g-f options among the tacos, fajitas, or Big Plates.
Flying Fig – Ohio City, Cleveland west side
I was so excited to dine at Flying Fig. We were meeting up with an amazing group of people we had not seen for awhile and everyone except me had been to dine there previously and loved it! I made the reservation, inquired about g-f options and was assured that the kitchen at FF could accommodate. It was suggested I let my server know what I was interested in having so that he could assist my choices. Unfortunately, the server was not well informed about this before hand nor was he very knowledgeable in the needs. As it turned out the accommodations included my being able to order a burger without a bun, a steak or the grilled salmon. This was unexpected and disappointing but I figured it was coming from the kitchen of FF and would be one of the best of each of those options that I’d ever eat. Well, not so much. I chose the burger (no bun). My burger was served on the plate with wimpy lettuce, cheese and bacon. Since I could not have fries I ordered a couple of sides that are indicated on the menu as g-f. What was most disappointing to me was the lack of presentation to the dish. Given the care and lovely presentations given to all the dishes presented to our table I assumed that they would at the very least attend to the dish they were serving me too. I was wrong.
Paladar – Woodmere
Paladar has been providing for the needs of g-f diners practically since opening – if not from the very beginning. For as long as I have been choosing Paladar as an option it has never failed to provide tasty options. Service at Paladar has also always been remarkable and the atmosphere of the dining room is bustling. There is not a beer option (not for lack of my promoting it) but I enjoy their margaritas and caipirinhas – or just club soda with lime. Paladar has a separate menu for their g-f offerings with starters, sides, soups, salads, tacos, and entrees. You can dine at Paladar for Brunch, Lunch, Dinner and Happy Hour.
Because Paladar does not have a dedicated fryer the chips for the guacamole are off limits – but the veggie plate is a great option to accommodate.
Tommy’s on Coventry
At Tommy’s the fare is hearty and healthy with just a bit of indulgence thrown in for good measure – try the unbelievably amazing fries and milkshakes. Tommy’s offers breakfast items (til 11:00 daily, later on Sat. and Sun.) There is a g-f bread option available for wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches and BLT’s. The burgers are phenomenal as are the falafel. And, did I mention the fries and the milkshakes?
At Tommy’s the kitchen takes great care in the preparation of the g-f options but it is a shared kitchen – advocate, advocate, advocate – let them know you needs. Their disclaimer does not state ‘gluten-free’ rather it reads that care is taken but that they consider their menu items to be ‘gluten sensitive’.
Cafe Avalaun – Warrensville Hts.
The Fresh Meals Program at Cafe Avalaun rounds out my weekly meal planning. With Fresh Meals you order ahead for meals that are prepared and packaged with instructions on heating and serving at home. Your order will provide you with 2 portions of three options. Orders are due by Fridays at 5:00 and ready for pickup after noon on Tuesdays. Chef Brian Doyle is now offering a monthly menu where you pick 3 of about 10 entree options. This past week we picked up Cioppino (italian seafood stew), Roasted Chicken with roasted garlic cauliflower mashers, and Pork Chops with chili whipped sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. At Cafe Avalaun there are also Friday ‘pop-up’ dinners that are offered with a theme that varies from the typical everyday menu. Some of the Friday options that have been offered include Burger Night, Italian Night, Chinese Night, Southern Fried Night, Pizza Night and more!!
Cafe Avalaun has a fully gluten-free kitchen – no gluten ever – where they also accommodate vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy free diners.