I had a birthday last week (don’t ask which one). We went out to dinner at a restaurant we had not been to before and had a very good and interesting experience. I learned from my celiac support group that this restaurant now offered a gluten free and gluten free/casein free menu. I had to give it a try.
The thing that made it interesting is that the GF/GFCF menu is completely separate from their regular menu. It is not a list of items from their menu that can be prepared gluten free. It is a list of already prepared, ready to be reheated food that a local woman with celiac disease comes in and prepares at the restaurant a couple of times a week. Maureen is the owner of One Dish Cuisine and she cooks when no one else is cooking at the restaurant, making sure there is no cross contamination. The food is then packaged and later reheated in the packaging to avoid any contamination when served.
The menu included items such as lasagna, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, crab cakes and chicken nuggets. I ordered lasagna. There is both a GF and GFCF option for lasagna. I have not gone back to being completely dairy free since my challenge a couple of weeks ago, so I went ahead and got the lasagna with the real cheese. It was served with a mini loaf of soft bread. I didn’t take a picture, but I was also served a dish of fresh squash and carrots which the restaurant prepared. (Maureen had given the kitchen staff instructions on how to do that without contamination.)
The lasagna was served in the packaging with a lid on it and placed on a plate. A small spatula was provided for removing the lasagna myself. I didn’t care for this particular way of serving the meal, though I completely understand that it is for the purpose of avoiding cross contamination. I would rather a restaurant be overly careful than careless, but if the plate is uncontaminated, I think the staff should be able to remove the lasagna safely.
My other issue with packaging was the bread. It was wonderful to go to a restaurant and be served good bread that I could eat with my meal! However, the bread was wrapped in plastic wrap and both were warm so I assume it was heated in the plastic. I prefer not to heat my food in plastic wrap, but the thing that really bothered me was that I had difficulty getting the plastic off. It was stuck to itself and stretchy from being warm. I wanted to try the bread, not battle with the plastic.
This is a new idea for both Irish Channel and One Dish Cuisine and they are still working it out. The packaging issues I have are not something that would keep me from going back. I’m more concerned with safety and good food, both of which were abundant.
I realize this is a local restaurant and most of my readers will never visit it, but if you live in Maryland you might want to check it out. I think the idea behind this type of gluten-free menu is one that might catch on. What do you think?