Hi lovers, likers, and tolerate-ors of GIMB. So we moved last week, and in addition to the packing, unpacking, sorting, cleaning, discovering of old clothes that are suddenly new again, I’ve been sans Internet. But I’m back! And I’ve been eating.
The thing is, when you move, is that you wind up dining out a lot. Which is not so awesome for those of us with the celiac. Especially at lunchtime when slices and sandwiches are staring you in the face. Needless to say I had a lot of tacos last week, but I also was lucky enough to hit a couple of stellar joints, both of which served me up gluten-free dinners to die for. Or rather, to totally not die for, as they were gluten-free and will not slowly give me small intestine cancer. Woot! Which made me stop and consider (again) my love of the fancy restaurants, and avoidance of the chain.
I hit both, and here’s what happened, and how they compared.
435 N. Fairfax, LA, CA
From the hosts of the Food Network show, Two Dudes Catering, these two dudes are now restaurant moguls. Animal is a meat-heavy, interesting combo of flavors, farm-to-table kind of joint that is usually packed. This is the place I went when I swore I would be falling right off the wagon of my gf diet. But the waiter changed my mind in a hurry. Which brings me to my highest praise of Animal, but my biggest concern about the restaurants I loved in my previous gluten-gorging life. Both times I went to Animal I got the same conscientious, but with attitude (hey, it’s a hip joint, I expect it), waiter who made my dining experience even more amazing than I thought possible. He marked up the menu for me, and made sure I wasn’t veering off my gluten-free course again and again. While the menu does change daily, I was lucky both times to experience Animal’s version of poutine with oxtail gravy. Oh. My. Nummies. Paired with the hamachi tostada, I was in heaven. I will go back again, and again, but I’ll always be nervous if I don’t get Mr. Perfect Waiter to make sure my incredibly flavorful, and creative dinner, doesn’t hurt me.
Downtown, L.A. Live
Which brings me to the other fab restaurant I dined at last week, which was the chain place. Not “chain” in an Applebee’s kind of way, Fleming’s is a swank steakhouse in the vein of Ruth’s Chris. Which means you’re eating much better in the neighborhood. MUCH. Still, I love my indie joints, so when Fleming’s offered to take me out and show me their new gluten-free menu I was excited, but not as much as say, getting to eat at Mozza would make me. (Yes, I know I’m never going to be able to eat at another Batali restaurant as long as I live. I GET IT.) Of course I rolled out of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse swearing that anytime I was in the downtown L.A. area again, we’d be partaking of the petite filet mignon and seared ahi tuna (without wasabi and soy sauce, but WITH an incredible caper creole mustard sauce) yet again. Also, creme brulee for dessert. Sweet! And GF, suckas’.
But here’s the thing. Taking the pressure off a celiac by offering a gluten-free menu means I get to relax and enjoy my meal from second one. I don’t have to keep repeating to the waiter that I have special needs. I don’t have to worry that maybe the waiter thinks I’m an asshole and puts in an order with the soy sauce marinade, and I don’t have to depend on that one special waiter, in order to dine out at top-notch joints. Also, what if this guy’s in the kitchen? I love a good waiter. LOVE. But you know what I love more? Peace of mind that my steak and salad aren’t going to bite me in the ass as soon as I get home. Super cool of Fleming’s to bust out a gluten-free,and other allergen-free menus. And I would have said that without the bottle of wine.
Now, if only I’d hear back from those other joints . . .
Tell me where you’ve seen gluten-free menus. I want to go to there.