Gluten Free Menu Options at Vintage Restaurant & Lounge // Financial District, Boston

Last week I was invited to check out the menu at Vintage Restaurant and Lounge. Vintage reopened last month with an updated food and beverage menu, new interior décor, and a new chef.

Vintage Restaurant and Lounge is a stylish restaurant and lounge located in the heart of Boston’s Financial District. Vintage serves lunch, dinner, late night dining (until 1 am), and cocktails until 2 am. The restaurant is draped in rich leather seating, beautiful chandeliers, and gothic décor. The lounge is located in the front by one of the two bars and offers a more relaxed and casual feeling. The restaurant is set in the back in a more elegant and private setting.

Vintage Lounge serves up New American cuisine. Offering both a dinner menu and bar menu there are plenty of options to choose from. I was recently invited to check out their dinner menu, which is about 95% gluten free. Wait, what? No where does it mention this; not on the menu and not online. So you can say I was pleasantly surprised and now I am excited to share this with you. I also think they should indicate this somewhere on the menu!

Vintage keeps rice flour on hand so they can make anything fried using the rice flour instead of regular flour. Anything breaded can also be made with the rice flour.

I don’t eat calamari very often, so as soon as I learned this could be made gluten free I knew what I was ordering. The calamari was light, not to heavy with batter, but still crispy. It is served with a dill aioli, which I loved, and is such a nice change from the usual marinara sauce.

The shrimp cocktail also caught my eye because it is described as being served with a house made ginger cocktail sauce. I love ginger and was eager to try this. The 4 jumbo shrimp were excellent–fresh and delicious– but the sauce lacked any real ginger flavor. I could barely taste a hint of ginger, all I got was a mouth full of spiciness. Too spicy for me! But if spice is your thing, then go for it!

For dinner I ordered the Seared Wild Salmon.

The Menu description for the Seared Wild Salmon ($25) was: Apple Butter, Pomegranate, Tempura Bits, Frisee Salad with Citrus Segments. Mine was served with a salad of mixed greens and a scoopful of what tasted like to me, potato salad. The salmon was a little saltier than I would have liked and  but I did enjoy it. I don’t like potato salad; I never did and I never will. This one was no different. Compared to other salmon dishes I’ve had this one was a bit undistinguished.

 

Something you should know about the desserts here; every dessert they make has some type of alcohol in it. I’m not complaining!

The crème brulee was to die for. I mean this was one of the best crème brulee’s I’ve ever had. Made with butterscotch schnapps, it has an every so slight butterscotch candy taste. The burnt topping was caramelized perfectly— I hate when restaurants don’t spend enough time caramelizing the top with the blowtorch.

The cashew bourbon ice cream was also delicious and rich. I know some people are ok with drinking alcohol because its been distilled and some think the gluten is removed during this process and is safe to drink. I don’t know if I believe this or not. But since the owner insisted we try it I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried a bit. It was really good.

As it’s name suggests Vintage has a quite an expansive, and award winning, wine list with well over 500 vintages! With 48 available by the glass and half bottle, choosing a glass of win was no easy feat! The wine list features wines from all over the globe ranging from $7-14 per glass, there is something to please every palate and every wallet. Vintage also offers a great cocktail menu that changes seasonally.

Our server, Lisa, was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and gluten free items. I think it helped that she has a good allergy herself so she was fully aware of how each dish was prepared and which ones were easily modified to accommodate different requests.

So my recommendations are to check out the new space, order a glass of wine of summer cocktail while enjoying one of the appetizers or small bites from the bar menu. If there is a game on, they are sure to show it on one of the two tvs. And if it’s nice out, side outside on the side walk patio.

In the warmer months Vintage offers seasonal outdoor seating and right now they are hosting a Summer Tasting Series every Thursday night. Every week Vintage will be tasting something different:

June 19th – Learn to Love Gin: Try an Italian 72, a Collins, and the famous Rickey

June 26th – Run Runners Dream: sample Mojitos, Mai Tais and more.

Disclaimer: I received this meal free of charge, with the exception of gratuity, which we happily paid for the great service. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Experience Tesca’s Wine Grotto & Gluten Free Menu Options

Recently BEELINE held a contest and I won the grand prize—an exclusive dinner at Tresca’s romantic Wine Grotto. WOW is right!

This was much different than your typical night out. It was an experience like no other. Jeremy and I were treated to a 4-course meal seated at one of the most exclusive and romantic tables in Boston. Tresca, located in the North End, has one private table in its Wine Grotto, secluded from the rest of the restaurant and other diners. We felt like we were dining in our own private restaurant.

The Sommelier was incredibly helpful in helping us pick the perfect wine to pair with our meal. He was incredibly knowledgeable about Italian wines and after discussing our likes and dislikes (honestly, I don’t really dislike anything about wine, except Chardonnay), he chose the perfect bottle for us.IMG_6036

Our server was very professional and friendly. He and the chef put together a wonderful tasting menu for us. They were spot on with our likes; seafood for me, meat for Jeremy. With so many delicious sounding menu choices, we were glad to be getting the tasting menu. This meant we didn’t need to choose between the Osso Bucco Veal Shank or Surf & Turf with aged black angus tenderloin and Maine lobster tail scampi. Quite frankly I don’t know how I would have picked just one.

Tresca labels their gluten free (GF) and dairy free (DF) options right on the menu. They are also willing to make substitutions and accommodations as necessary.

Capesante Veneziane ~ Pan seared Diver Scallops served over a warm salad of roasted corn, fresh peas and apple wood smoked bacon.IMG_6047 IMG_6049Steak – 10 oz marinated hanger steak, with a rosemary demi glaze with arugula salad.IMG_6044

Bucatini Bolognese ~ Traditional northern style veal & pork ragout enriched with pancetta & tomatoes, served with gluten free penne. IMG_6051
Costata di Vitello ~ Veal Chop Naturally raised milk-fed veal chop, served with glazed baby carrots, garlic mashed potato and salsa cruda.IMG_6052
Pesce Della Sera (Fish of the day) ~ The chef’s hand selected fish special, oven roasted salmon with herb roasted potatoes, and pear salad with baby arugula Barlett pear, pine nuts tossed with lemon thyme vinaigrette.IMG_6056
Unfortunately, for dessert, there wasn’t anything available that gluten free. The chef brought out a cannolis sampler for Jeremy and of course I had to try a bite of the fillings! Each one was decadent, rich, and very sinful. Usually, Tresca offers gelato and a gluten free chocolate cake, which I would have loved to try!

Every dish was delicious and full of flavor. The main course portions were very generous, and the wine list was intense, filled with an array of classic and more unique Italian wines.

We loved being able to take our time, not be rushed, and enjoy our night together.  We were treated like VIP throughout the night and impressed with the quality of the food and the excellent service. IMG_6038

This was such a wonderful experience and we would like to thank Tresca and BEELINE for such a magnificent and unforgettable evening!

Addis Red Sea: Gluten Free Ethiopian Food

For my birthday Jeremy took me to Addis Red Sea in the South End. Offering authentic Ethiopian fare, Addis Red Sea specializes in delicious cuisine that “actually reflects true Ethiopian culture.”Â

Stepping into the dimly lit dining room, we felt like we had entered another world. Colorful tapestries and rugs were scattered throughout the room, and displays of traditional Ethiopian décor and photographs lined the walls.

We sat on wooden stools around a low wicker table called a mesob. Whatever you order – the spicy vegetable and chicken wats (stews), chopped salads, the sautéed tibs of lamb and beef – is served on one family-style platter with injera; a traditional Ethiopian bread. While each guests ordered his or her own entrée, the meals are collectively served on one communal platter.  You won’t find any silverware or plates here, as the injera is your untensil. Injera is the hallmark of Ethiopian food. Everything is served on this bread; from the appetizers and salads, to the main dishes. Injera is made from teff flour, an iron-rich, gluten free grain that grows in Ethiopia. At Addis Red Sea, you can request the gluten free injera for extra $5. This is the true injera; dark in color, and made from 100% fermented teff flour. The lighter version you will see many of the other diners eating is a combination of wheat and barely (because it is cheaper to do it this way).

Tip: Call ahead, especially on busy nights, to make sure that the gluten free injera is available.

To eat, you leisurely tear small pieces of injera, and use the porous bread to pinch bite-size servings of your meal. The best part is scooping up and devouring the sauce-soaked injera that also serves as your plate. Injera has a sour, nutty taste and spongy texture.

Addis Red Sea’s diverse menu offers many types of dishes, including chicken, beef, lamb and fish, as well as many vegetarian and vegan meals. Most importantly, many of the menu options are gluten free. With the expectation of a few appetizers, gluten is not present in many of the dishes.

Our meal began with a hot cloth so we could wash our hands and two glasses of Ethiopian red wine. We tried the Gouder, a medium bodied slight dry red. I enjoyed the wine and it was similar to merlot—not as exotic or different tasting as I was expecting! We shared two appetizers. First we tried Ye-Miser Salata; a warm lentil salad with onions, green peppers and herbs. It had such rich flavor and a hearty texture.

Next we tried Dibulbul Tips; stir-fried marinated ground beef mixed with onions, green peppers, and herbs. The description was misleading, it was not a stir-fry, it was actually a beef patty. The patties were small, dry and not very flavorful. I would not recommend ordering this one. For our entrees we shared the Atakilt, made with mixed vegetables—green beans, potatoes, carrots and onions – and sautéed in a blend of exotic herbs. The assortment of herbs and spices in this dish were subtle and mild, but nonetheless incredibly flavorful. For our second entrée we ordered Yegeb Alcha; lamb simmered in a mild sauce of butter, onion, ginger, and tumeric. The meat was incredibly tender and savory. This dish was on the spicer side, but was absolutely delicious.

The food here is simple, but not bland, and there is nothing pretentious about Addis Red Sea. It’s a great place to go and share a meal with friends or family.  Right now, there is a Groupon Deal, half off dinner for two or four including one appetizer and one entrée per person. Get it before it’s gone!

Brunch on the Odyssey Boston

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend a blogger brunch on the Odyssey Cruise Boston coordinated by Jen Dorman, of Blog and Tweet Boston. odyssey

We boarded the cruise at noon and departed at 1pm for a two-hour cruise around the Boston Harbor.IMG_4641

The weather was absolutely gorgeous—blue skis and bright sunshine. I was excited about brunch and excited soaking in a little sun too. We were allowed to bring a guest so I invited my friend Kristen.IMG_4659

On-board, we were shown to our table on the lower deck, where complimentary glasses of champagne were waiting for us.photo1 Our waiter, Orlando, was great and immediately offered us all coffee. For anyone who preferred mimosas, he brought orange juice to add to our champagne. 5

Odyssey offers the most unique brunch setting in Boston. For the Brunch Buffet menu, the Executive Chef and galley staff prepares a bountiful array of appetizers, entrées, salads, and desserts that is sure to please any number of tastes. The Chocolate and Champagne brunch is priced at $59.90, which includes a glass of champagne.6

With both breakfast and lunch items available, I couldn’t decide, so I filled my plate with both, trying as many items as I could fit onto the plate. IMG_4624Dishes containing gluten and/or dairy were clearly labeled. There was also a separate gluten free lunch menu available 9at no extra cost) that included a few additional options not offered in the buffet line.IMG_4628

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Smoked Salmon served with Capers and Red Onion

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Assorted Cheeses and Mixed Green Salad with fresh fruit

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Carving Station: Black Pepper Crusted Sirloin Carved to Order

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Curried Vegetable Cassoulet Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots and Assorted Beans baked in a Light Tomato Curry Sauce with Cilantro

I’m usually wary of scrambled eggs on brunch buffets, but the Scrambled Eggs with Aged Wisconsin Cheddar were fluffy and somewhat cheesy, and I was pleasantly surprised. The hash browns were also tasty and not too greasy.  The vegetables were well-cooked and had great flavor. The chicken was flavorful but slightly dry. The smoked salmon was incredibly fresh and tasty, as was the fresh fruits and salad. All in all it was quite delicious, and I loved the variety of gluten free options.

And did I mention there was a chocolate fountain?!IMG_4631

IMG_4632Dessert at brunch? Don’t mind if I do. You would think after all that food I’d be full, and I was, BUT dessert is my favorite, and I always say yes.IMG_4650

In addition to the chocolate fountain, I tried the gluten free flourless chocolate torte. It was deliciously dense and rich.IMG_4651

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Photo Courtesy of Gabi Valladares, http://www.kneadleandbread.com

After eating, we went up to the deck to soak up the sun, relax, and take in the beautiful views. Being on the Odyssey Cruise was a great experience; Kristen and I had such a fun afternoon.

Odyssey also offers an array of dinner, lunch and afternoon cruises, and is available for private parties.

The Chart House, Weehawken, NJ

Last weekend my family and I spent a night in Weehawken. We arrived late and had limited options for dinner because everything was booked. The Chart House was very close to our hotel and luckily we were able to get a reservation for 6 at 8:15pm. This location is beautiful. The ambiance is unparalleled. The restaurant site on the end of a dock on the Hudson River, surrounded by water on all 3 sides of the floor to ceiling glass walls, with incredible views of the city.

The Boston location is also located on the Waterfront, in a historic building, providing a unique dinning experience. I think both locations are really special in their own ways and provide an extraordinary dinning experience.

Before I start on the food there is one thing I need to relay to you, and hopefully someone from The Chart House will see this too and do something about it: Educate Your Staff!! It was incredibly unnerving how uninformed our waiter was about the menu. He told me the coconut ginger rice was not gluten free, yet I read another gluten free review in which she ate it (and didn’t get sick). When he brought our appetizer, specially stated gluten free, it came with pita chips and fried plantain. My gluten free menu only said fried plantains, so I knew the pita was not gluten free. But I asked, just in case this was a wonderful surprise. He said the plantains were not safe to eat but he was pretty sure the pita was ok, he just wanted to double check. I was shocked! Pita is not gluten free and it is hard to find gluten free pita, never in restaurants. I asked the waiter to bring me a separate basket of fried plantains since there were about 4 in the pita and cracker basket. Later, I found out these are not fried in a gluten free fryer. Another point I’d like to add. After writing this post, I googled other gluten free dining reviews at The Chart House and there are a remarkable number of negative reviews. So, please please please be careful and make sure your waiter is well informed. If you do not feel comfortable ask to speak with the manager. This is such a shame because this is one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve been to.

I praise their efforts for having a gluten free menu but when compared to the regular menu it doesn’t even come close. There are very few options, which is frustrating because the main menu looks incredibly delicious with creative and mouth-watering dishes.

The food was excellent. The fish was fresh and every dish was exceptionally prepared and extremely flavorful. For appetizers we shared the Crab Avocado and Mango Stack. A large portion of jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in remoulade, layered with avocado and mango. This dish was beautifully presented, refreshing and delicious. The remoulade had a nice little kick to it with minimal cream or mayonnaise (not sure which one was used). It was loaded with crabmeat, and surprisingly, it was not salty.  I think this was the best, most flavorful dish we ordered, and it should not be missed. You must order it.

We also shared the hummus trio; a classic combination of traditional, roasted red pepper and edamame hummus served with plantain chips. Luckily the hummus is gluten free, always, and the only mistake our waiter made was serving us pita chips. This made me nervous that he didn’t inform the kitchen I had a gluten intolerance. The hummus platter was ok. The roasted red pepper was actually one of the best I’ve had, better then Cedar’s! The traditional was just like every other hummus, there was nothing to make it stand out, and the edamame lacked flavor. FYI, the plantains are fried in the same fryer as gluten so be ware. This is a great appetizer for sharing, the amount of hummus was more than enough for the 6 of us to share. I would suggest skipping this one and sticking to what they do best – seafood.

For my entrée I chose the Bronzed Fresh Fish. A pan seared, savory balance of sweet and spicy, topped with jumbo lump crab, dice fresh tomatoes and lemon shallot butter served with steamed vegetables. It also came with mashed potatoes, which was not stated on the menu. I ordered the sauce on the side, and it was delivered this way, but the tomatoes were missing. When I inquired with the waiter he said tomatoes were not part of this dish. Excuse me, but the menu says they are. I didn’t argue though, I had enough with him, he clearly did not know the menu well. The fish was very tasty, cooked to perfection and more spicy than sweet. The crab meet was incredibly salty, which was a big shock after eating the not-at-all salty crab appetizer. The mashed potatoes were actually pretty good, and this means a lot coming from a mashed potato hater. My sister loved them and ate most of them.

Website: http://www.chart-house.com/

Product Review: Cooked Perfect Gluten Free Italian Style Meatballs

Cooked Perfect, the popular American flame broiled meatball brand, now has a gluten free meatball. Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are just looking to eat healthier, Cooked Perfect Italian Style Gluten Free meatballs are perfect for mealtime or entertaining.

 Cooked Perfect Italian Style Gluten Free meatballs

Cooked Perfect meatballs are flame boiled, never fried, using only 100% USDA inspected beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. They are flavored with a blend of Italian herbs and spices that give it an authentic homemade taste.

The meatballs are frozen and are ready in just 15-20 minutes.

I loved how Cooked Perfect was able to capture the flavor and texture of homemade meatballs. I was unsure what to expect, I’ve never eaten frozen meatballs prior to today, and boy was I so impressed with the flavor and texture.

meatballs

The con is the calorie and fat count. One serving, equal to three meatballs, contains 240 calories, 19 grams of fat and 410mg of sodium. The price for a package of 28 meatballs is $7.99.  Although tasty and make a great quick and easy party food, I prefer to make my own meatballs that are healthier.

itallian meatballs

Meatballs contain soy and rice.

Available at over 50 retail chains, including BJ’s Wholesale Club, Star Market, Hannaford, and Stop and Shop. For a complete list click here.

Disclaimer: I received these products free of charge to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.