New York City. It’s my favorite place in the whole world. Why? It’s open 24 hours a day, has excellent music and art, and cuisines from all around the world (including gluten-friendly eats). Here’s what we found:
1. Risotteria. 270 Bleecker Street New York, NY 10014-4101 (212) 924-6664
I wrote this review while in restaurant:
Nina is our guide through this tiny yet wonderful little gluten-free eatery. Separate cutting boards, separate ovens, and a gluten-free menu to rival any and all that I’ve ever seen (with good music to boot). The size of a subway car, they had the best sangria from Spain, pre-made flour mixes, and two POS machines that probably told the gluten-filled folks what had gluten, a wonderful reverse!
The menu was chock-full of gluten-free apps, main dishes (risotto and pannini), and yummy desserts. I ordered the parma ham, mozzarella, and arugla panini. Mike from ew.com had mozzarella, roasted portabello, and truffle oil risotto. He described his dish as “delicious, not overpowering, surprisingly light with a sense of all the ingredients. Not that much difference between G and GF.”
Dessert was chocolate and red velvet cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting was light with the perfect bite. I heart this place. Period. A+
2. Lilli and Loo. 792 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10065-8106 (212) 421-7800
Okay, so I didn’t write this review in the restaurant, mainly because I was visiting with family and listening to the pompous jerk at the next table. (The worst was trying to not laugh when he spilled sake all over himself. To our credit, his girlfriend thought it was really funny, too…) Short-skirted party girls, a birthday for someone recently returned from an ashram in India, and a double date that ended with bored looking participants and one of the daters on the sidewalk texting their next date…honestly, it was hard for the food to compete with the distracting patrons.
We went to Lilli and Loo because of the write-ups. All very good. Even with the gluten-friendly rep, I got a little nervous because of the potential language barrier with our server. I asked for the gluten-free menu as politely as possible.
We started with the gluten-free Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps that packed a bit of spicy heat. Our trio then sampled from three gluten-free plates: Thai Basil Chicken, Crispy Sesame Beef, and Shrimp Pad Thai. The consensus favorite was the Shrimp Pad Thai. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the seasoning was just right. We were disappointed with the Thai Basil Chicken because it lacked basil leaves and said flavor. The Crispy Sesame Beef, coated with arrowroot flour, looked amazing but was hard to eat. Smaller pieces would have been better. Dessert was a complimentary slice of sweet Blueberry Pound Cake, again made with arrowroot. The texture was spongy and the blueberry flavor was delicate, especially combined with the home-made whipped cream.
I want to go back and order new items to taste test, especially the Japanese fare. I like the idea of using arrowroot instead of the usual rice/potato/tapioca flours. The taste is different and better suited, I think, for Asian cuisine. The online menu for Lilli and Loo is here. Props for the order-and-have-it-delivered idea. B+
3. Tulu’s GF Bakery. 338 E 11th St New York NY10003 (212) 777-2227
After a few sniffles that the Petite Cafe had closed (we’re okay with this after reading why…), we were recommended by our friend Laura from Fisk & Fern to visit Tulu’s Gluten Free Bakery. This little place was busy the minute we walked in. The three girls who worked there were ringing up customers, taking phone calls, and finishing up cake orders.
I wanted to interview Tully, the owner, but took a back seat to the two women who began an impromptu Q & A with her. This was leading to a large potential order and I didn’t want to interrupt. Instead, I listened a little and found out a few things: The shop is almost six months old. The owner, a culinary school graduate, and used to work for a catering company. Once she became gluten intolerant, she was started to bake to make up for what she couldn’t eat from the gluten-filled world. With vegan options and bread on Fridays and Saturdays, this little place has some pretty serious potential.
What did we eat? Drinks were cranberry pineapple and brown sugar lemonade. Cold, tart, and really refreshing. We chose paninis for lunch, turkey/provolone/herb mayo for me and ham/muenster/whole grain mustard for Chris. Both came with salad, tossed with a light dressing.
We just couldn’t resist the mouth-watering gluten-free coffee cake (see below) and took home the dozen mini gluten-free cupcake sampler for dessert with our family. (Oh, and two chocolate chip cookies for on the train plus another coffee cake to share for breakfast the next day.) We’ll be back and we’re telling all our gluten-free friends. A-