Gluten Free Event at Jade Tea House

We heard from Laura B. Russell about an upcoming super-gluten-free event at the Jade Tea House down in Sellwood.

I’m pairing up with my friends at Jade for a super fun event on Wednesday, May 9th.
Jade will be hosting a private dinner in their new upstairs dining room in honor of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. The meal will feature five courses from the book, including dessert from Crave Bake Shop (Kyra did the desserts in my book) and beer pairings from Harvester Brewing. I think it will be a really fun, and likely a quite festive event! I’d love if any of you and/or your gluten-free friends and customers would like to join in the fun. Books will be for sale as well, or I’m happy to sign any books that people have already purchased.

When: Wednesday, May 9th 6:30 PM
Where: Jade Bistro, Teahouse & Patisserie
7912 SE 13th Avenue Portland OR 97202
Price: $45/person (I think you need to give a credit card when you call)
R.S.V.P by calling 503-477-8985 or email info@jadeportland.com
www.jadeportland.com

Her book: The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen

Did we mention that we love her book? We keep making more recipes out of it, and they’re always really amazing. We also love the Jade Tea House.

Omission Beer Event

Omission Lager from Event

It is admittedly infrequent that the paths of a beer maker and gluten-free blogger cross. I do get invited to events here and there, and the first of 2012 happens to be the press event for Omission beer. Omission beer is made by Widmer Brothers, a division of Craft Brew Alliance, both of which are Portland-based. The event was hosted by Saraveza, which, judging from the menu, is definitely not a gluten-free friendly place, but which has a great little spot around the corner for events like this.

The event was made up of PR people, local bloggers, local media, and some folks from Widmer. I brought along the Gluten Free Portland official beer correspondant, Heather Marsh. Pictured above are Mieke from Tula Baking (who provided some of the treats for the event), Widmer brewmaster Joe Casey, and the CEO of Craft Brew Alliance, Terry Michaelson. Casey’s wife is celiac, as is Michaelson. We spent some time talking with both of them, swapping stories about trying to find places to eat while travelling, and comparing notes on favorite restaurants and bakeries in town.

Omission in the Case

It’s nice to walk into an event where the first thing that happens after introductions is that someone puts a beer in your hand. I was really curious to see what the beer tasted like, and had one of those “oh yeah, that’s what that tastes like, I had forgotten” kind of moments when I had a drink of the Omission Pale Ale. It had literally been years since I’d had a real pale ale, but I could have told you what I was drinking without having to check the label.

About the Brewing Process

The company notes that Omission was six years in the making. It’s unique in that the beer is brewed with normal beer-making ingredients like malted barley and hops, and the gluten is removed during the process. Then the beer is batch-tested by an independent lab to make sure that it falls below the international standard of 20 ppm of gluten (the company claims that they go further and test to 6 ppm). Neither Casey nor Michaelson were willing to go into the nitty gritty details of how they remove the gluten, but would say that “it’s complicated”.

Omission Brewing Process

One of the posters at the event went into further details, saying “Throughout the brewhouse process, proteins in Omission beers are degraded and/or removed entirely via precipitation, denaturation, and sedimentation.” And later, “After fermentation, yeasts, solids, and proteins are removed using a centrifuge and DE filter…” (I’m thinking that it’s pretty safe to take the words “proteins” in these two sentences and substitute “gluten and other proteins.”) Before they bottle it, the beer is “rapid tested” for gluten in the bright beer tanks. The beer is then bottled and sample bottles are sent out for independent gluten testing using an R5 Competitive ELISA test.

Omission Testing Results

One very interesting thing that they’ve done is that you can go online and check the test results of the batch you’re drinking. To do so, you go to omissiontests.com and enter the date stamp information from the bottle. Here are the test results from the bottle I had last night.

Moving Forward

Omission is not yet available outside of Oregon. Widmer plans to begin distributing the beer nationwide as soon as the necessary details are worked out with the TTB (the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Dept of the Treasury). As many of our readers know, the FDA is still getting its act together about all things gluten-free, so there’s not much going on there. With any luck, people outside of Oregon will be drinking gluten-free lager sooner rather than later.

Also mentioned at the event, Widmer is working to expand their gluten-free offerings to include more varieties of beer. They don’t seem to have any plans to supply the beer in draft form, which makes sense because of the risk of cross-contamination from the lines.

How Does it Taste?

With Omission, I think that Widmer is going to have a hit on their hands. Both Heather and I thought that the Omission Lager was good, but both of us preferred the Pale Ale. I asked a bunch of the beer bloggers in the room what they thought, and everyone agreed that the beer was good. One person noted that the pale ale was just a little sweet. Nobody I talked to thought that there was anything funny or strange about the taste.

In this case, saying that “it didn’t taste funny” is akin to attending a Cirque du Soleil show and declaring that the performers “somehow managed to totter across the stage with their crutches.” But considering that we’re talking about gluten-free beer, it needed to be said. As I mentioned above, I had one of those moments where I tasted the Omission Pale Ale, and remembered drinking other pale ales years ago. I’m not an expert, but to me Omission tasted crisp, flavorful, and well-balanced. We were given lots of samples on our way out the door, so hopefully soon we’ll have a more thorough report from Heather and her cohorts.

Look for Omission at your local retailer. You can also go to the source, the Widmer Gasthaus on North Russell. They have recently expanded their menu to include plenty of gluten-free items. We plan to visit soon and will certainly post the results here. Thanks to Widmer for the free beer!

Portland Gluten Free Brewery Tour

Here’s an interesting event coming to Portland. A special gluten-free brewery tour happening April 9, 2012, noon to 5:30 PM. It looks like these tours fill up fast. More information is available at Brewvana. The event registration page is available here. Press release:

BREWVANA EXPLORES GLUTEN-FREE BREWERIES—& MORE
Beer expert Brian Yaeger guides tour of various fermentations, April 9

Portland, OR, Mar 28, 2012 – Brewvana, the tour operator best known for conducting tours of Portland breweries, offers a unique tour for fans of all libations, including those on gluten-free diets. It is the result of Brewvana founder Ashley Rose Savatti and beer writer Brian Yaeger asking, “What about the other –eries?” A whole world of adult beverages exists in and around Portland—beyond beloved beer—made from fermented apples, honey, and rice. As a major benefit, our gluten-intolerant friends who equally appreciate artisanal drinks can safely imbibe. The special tour is Monday, April 9, from noon – 5:30 p.m. Space is limited and tickets are $85.

Hop on the Brewvana bus and begin the at Buschwhacker Cider the only cidery in Portland. Cidermaker Jeff Smith will lead a discussion of “hard” ciders, a segment of the beer market currently enjoying tremendous growth of 25%. The second stop will be Kookoolan World Meadery in Yamhill. Yamhill County is home to some 280 wineries, but only this one specializes in honey wine and meadmaker Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor will guide guests in discussion and sampling. Next, the bus stops at Saké One in Forest Grove. It is Oregon’s only saké brewery (saké is brewed like beer and is therefore not “rice wine”). Lastly, what’s a Brewvana tour without going to a brewery? The tour concludes at  Harvester Brewing, a new brewery in Portland and the only one dedicated to brewing gluten free beers that are proving a hit even among non-Celiacs. Brewmeister James Neumeister will lead the tour and tasting.

About Brian Yaeger:
Yaeger is the author of “Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey,” about the people and places that constitute the brewing industry. He lives in Portland, freelancing as a beer and travel writer contributing to Willamette Week, All About Beer Magazine, Draft, Beer West, and more. Yaeger and his wife open their spare apartment to beercationers at Inn Beervana. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Yaeger

About Brewvana: The Ultimate Brewery Tour Experience.
Brewvana is committed to embracing the history and culture of the brewing industry in Portland by introducing people to the vast selection of beer (and now other fermentations!) that Portland has to offer. This one-of-a kind tour experience includes transportation to and from Portland’s award winning breweries as well as the smaller, upcoming breweries. The all-inclusive tour also provides lots of samples, food, meet and greet with the brewer/maker, tours of the facility, trivia and more. Whether you are an amateur imbiber or a connoisseur, you will be guaranteed to reach BREWVANA: the euphoric state of awareness, appreciation and love for Portland’s finest craft beer.

Omission Beer Press Release

A few weeks ago, I posted about a mysterious invitation I got to a beer tasting event. The event was delayed until next week, but today I got a press release from them. Here it is in its entirety. It mentions that the beer is brewed using barley, which is a source of gluten. I’ll be curious to hear what they’re doing to remove the gluten from the beer. The press release also mentions that the CEO is celiac, and so is the wife of the brewmaster.

Check it out.

OMISSION BEER:

BREWED WITH BARLEY, SPECIALLY CRAFTED TO BE GLUTEN-FREE

 

Coming Soon to Oregon

“Drinking is Believing”

 

PORTLAND, Ore. – March 26, 2012 – This spring, Craft Brew Alliance will launch Omission Beer, the first craft beer brand in the United States focused exclusively on brewing great-tasting craft beers with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, that are specially crafted to be gluten-free. Omission beers are brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., which uses a proprietary brewing process to reduce the gluten levels to well below the widely accepted international gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million (ppm) for food and beverages. (The international gluten-free standard was set forth by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.) Omission Beer is expected to release the first beers in its portfolio, which will be available only in Oregon, on April 2.

“Developing great-tasting, authentic craft beers that happen to be gluten-free was a personal mission for our brewmaster and me, and it’s a mission that our team really got behind. The launch of Omission Beer is a game changer for celiacs and the craft beer community,” said Terry Michaelson, CEO of Craft Brew Alliance. “As a 12-year celiac and longtime craft beer enthusiast, I’m thrilled to introduce two delicious craft beers that can be enjoyed equally by those who are affected by gluten sensitivities and those who are not.”

Unlike many other gluten-free beers currently available, Omission beers are not brewed with sorghum, rice, tapioca, buckwheat or quinoa; they are brewed using traditional beer ingredients: malted barley, hops, water and yeast.

“Omission Beer has been a work in progress for the last six years,” said Joe Casey, brewmaster at Widmer Brothers Brewing. “My wife was diagnosed as a celiac in 2006, and since then, we’ve made it our mission to brew a great-tasting craft beer using traditional beer ingredients that everyone of legal drinking age could enjoy. After years of hard work, mission accomplished.”

Gluten-Free Guarantee, Every Batch Tested:

Each batch of Omission Beer is tested by an independent lab to ensure that all Omission beers contain well below 20 ppm of gluten. Gluten levels in Omission beers are tested using the R5 competitive ELISA test. Beer will not be released to consumers until test results are received and after an extended quality assurance hold.

About Omission Beer

Omission Beer is a new brand of gluten-free craft beers, available only in Oregon. Brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., Omission is the first craft beer brand in the United States focused exclusively on brewing great-tasting craft beers with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, that are specially crafted to be gluten-free. Each batch of Omission Beer is tested using the R5 competitive ELISA test to ensure that it contains gluten levels that are well below the international standard for gluten-free of 20 ppm. Drinking is believing.

About Craft Brew Alliance

Craft Brew Alliance was formed with the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery in 2008. With an eye toward preserving and growing one-of-a-kind craft beers and brands, CBA was joined by Kona Brewing Company in 2010. For more information about CBA, visit craftbrew.com.

I’ll be attending the event next week, and bringing along our official gluten free beer correspondant so that we can get an educated taster to give the beer a try. We’ll post our results after the event!

Omission Beer – New Gluten-Free Beer Coming to Oregon?

Omission Beer Website

We received a mysterious invite to an event this Thursday, where we’re kind of expecting a new gluten-free beer to be unveiled. The folks who invited us aren’t saying anything about it being gluten-free, only that they expect us to be interested. A visit to the Omission website reveals only a few hints of what it’s about, along with a place to sign up for updates (once you’ve verified that you’re age-appropriate). Look here for more information after the date.

News From Around Portland

We’ve got a bunch of news from various places around Portland…

GIG Holiday Fair is this Weekend

A quick reminder that the GIG Holiday Fair is this Saturday. See this post on Grain Damaged for more information.

Where: The International Fellowship Family
4401 NE 122nd St. Portland, OR (NE Sandy & 122nd)
When: Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 10 AM to 2 PM
Entry Fee: $5 per person, $10 per family, Kids under 12 free

Jensen’s Better Buns Now Available at New Seasons Deli

These are the same gluten-free buns that are currently available at McMenamins around town, as well as Dick’s Kitchen. We think they’re the best gluten-free buns around. Now you can get gluten free sandwiches at New Seasons delis.

Petunia’s Pies at New Seasons

Speaking of New Seasons, Petunia’s gluten free and vegan treats are now available at New Seasons. Petunia’s – Our Review

2012 GIG Conference Will be in Seattle

The Gluten Intolerance Group national headquarters are in Seattle, WA. The organization holds yearly conferences in different cities around the country, and has announced that next year’s conference will be held in Seattle. They’ve also announced that the format of the conference is growing from a “traditional program” into a Gluten-Free Health & Wellness Expo. Look for more details coming soon.

Harvester Brewing!


A local tipster alerted us that Harvester Brewing is setting up shop at 715 SE Lincoln St, just a stone’s throw from New Cascadia Traditional. Harvester will be a dedicated gluten-free brewery in Portland OR, and expects to operational and open in Fall/Winter 2011. We were invited to sample their beers quite a while ago, and were impressed. We certainly wish them well! Visit their Facebook page for more details.

Another Gluten Free Pizza Contender Appears: Sizzle Pie

Considering that their pizza graced the cover of the Portland Monthly Magazine in February of this year, I have an itching suspicion that we’re a little late to the party at Sizzle Pie. That doesn’t change the fact that their pizza is awesome.

Sizzle Pie on East Burnside

Sizzle Pie is smack dab in the hip blocks of East Burnside, at 624. It’s a couple blocks from the Doug Fir, and practically next door to that one cool bar with no name. Like the neighborhood, the decor, help, and jukebox is also hip. When we went there, the music ranged from The Cramps to a song that sounded like Devo if Devo was playing buzz guitars.

The menu is adventurous/upscale. By “upscale” I don’t mean expensive. I mean there are ingredients like white truffle oil, goat cheese, cilantro pepitas pesto, and even dried cranberries. At Sizzle Pie, a person can get what might be called “gourmet pizza” if the term hadn’t already been ruined by marketers. Obviously, you can also get a basic pepperoni and mushroom slice if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s nice to know there are lots of interesting options. All their crusts are vegan, including the gluten-free crust. They also have an enormous vegan section in their menu.

As with most pizza places, alas, they cook the gluten-free pizza in a shared oven. So if you’re in the population who really need to watch out, then you should keep eating your pizza at New Cascadia or build your own with a store-bought crust.

Gluten Free Pizza at Sizzle Pie

Speaking of pizza, the Sizzle Pie crust style is thin, and there are green specs in the crust, so obviously they’re adding in some spices to make it more flavorful. It’s delicious. Along with being thin, it’s also the perfect amount of crunchy. I don’t know how they did it, but this is among the best gluten-free crusts I’ve had. We got the Golden Ring pizza, which is White Truffle Oil, Goat Cheese, and Green Onion, and we added garlic and pepperoni. This was one awesome pizza. We got a 12 inch pizza and it was the perfect size to feed two.

There are two things to note. First, the regular “large” pizza is 18 inches, but the gluten-free large is 16. Apparently the gluten-free crust just won’t get those extra couple of inches bigger. Second, don’t assume that the pizza you’re ordering is going to have red sauce. If you really want a pizza with red sauce, you should probably ask. There’s a place on the menu where it says that all their pizzas feature red sauce “unless otherwise noted” but this ends up being a little confusing, because if you get pesto, white truffle oil, caramelized onion spread, cream sauce, or something else that counts as “sauce” then you’re not getting red sauce. Which makes sense, but we got caught out.

No Red Sauce Here.

Luckily, our pizza was awesome without red sauce.

Everybody we had contact with was very friendly, the pizza came out hot, and the place is nice and clean. We sat out back on the patio, which was great on a warm August night. There was a line when we walked in the door, and there was a line when we left.

Our final verdict: With gluten-free pizza, we think that the crust is most of the battle, and so many crusts lack crunch or aren’t very flavorful. We’re going to have to try some more pies from Sizzle Pie, and it’s definitely not going to be a painful process, luckily! Have you eaten there yet? Let us know in the comments!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly but Shared Oven So Watch Out
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: 1 or 2 bucks, depending on the size

Sizzle Pie
www.sizzlepie.com
624 E. Burnside, Portland OR, 97214 / 503.234.7437

Portland Gluten Free Beer Review

Editor’s note: I’ve been wanting to do a feature on gluten-free beers for a while now, but I’m really more of a hard alcohol guy. Fortunately, we were able to recruit Heather Marsh, who gathered some friends, drank a lot of beer, took notes and photos, and wrote the excellent review you’re about to read. Thanks Heather!

Gluten Free Beers Reviewed

When I moved back to Portland, I wasn’t much of a beer fan. I know, no one admits that. But it didn’t take very many dinners out with friends to be converted from no beer, to some beer, to being a genuine fan of beer. Our beer options in Portland are fantastic, and I was slowly learning to love the various flavors. Then I found out I was gluten intolerant. Then I found out I may be celiac.

I’ve been gluten free for long enough that I can’t really remember what the beautiful Portland beer (that I was just starting to appreciate) tasted like.

I’ve seen gluten free beers around town, and tried a couple. It was nice to have the option, but I was never terribly impressed. One day I decided to compare them, so I did an internet search and pulled together a couple GF options. My brother and I (both gluten free) had an informal tasting, for our own information. But due to our novice knowledge of this strange and wonderful beverage, we really only succeeded in selecting our favorites. After conversations with several gluten free friends, and after discovering a couple other gluten free beers, I decided I wanted to do a more thorough investigation. I’m including my findings here, but I highly encourage you to try this at home! Both for the sake of the knowledge it will provide you, and because it’s just plain fun. And your friends will think it’s the best idea you ever had.

Because of my inexperience with beer in general, I brought in a posse of beer-loving, non-gluten-free friends and experts to consult on this important experiment. Here’s what we came up with (in the order we sampled them)! (Editor’s note: They sampled the beers from light to dark, so they end up being listed in roughly that order.)

1) Estrella Damm Daura
This pale, smooth beer has hints of apple. A mild, gentle flavor, with a bitter finish. Not bad, but it didn’t hit the top two list of anyone in the party. Also, I understand it’s made with barley, and has the gluten removed to under 6ccs. Not sure how that works for someone who is extremely sensitive, but it sounds like a risk that might not be worth it for the mild taste. I recommend hitting a hard cider instead if you want this sort of flavor.

2) Green’s Triple Blond
This one was much more complex than the Estrella, and didn’t have the bitter aftertaste. It was sweet, fruity, and smelled of apple. One of the tasters thought it had hints of vodka, but that could be from the high alcohol content. It was almost reminiscent of a sparkling wine. I really liked it, and I’m not usually a fan of the paler beers.

3) St. Peters Sorgham
Certainly the best bottle in class (lighter beers). I realize that doesn’t say anything about what’s inside, but hey! The beer itself is bitter, with layers of different flavors. Sawdust and peanut shell were both mentioned. We all agreed it has a strong wood flavor and it smells vaguely of tobacco, good cigars. I wasn’t crazy about it, but others enjoyed it. Someone else finished off my taster.

4) New Grist
Sweet and light, and reminiscent of a hard cider, only not as flavorful. It’s a little like drinking juice, understated, with a mild flavor. I didn’t mind it, but I don’t think I’d seek it out. The consensus was a resounding “meh.”

5) Redbridge
This light, golden beer has more color than any of the previous selection, but it wasn’t our favorite. It has a citrus start, and a smoky, caramely finish. Its smell was described as olive oil and acetone (the main ingredient in finger nail polish remover… yumm?). No one finished their taster.

6) Bards
A smoky smell and a heavier flavor. Tasted like caramelized molasses with hints of tobacco. Wasn’t my favorite, but certainly not bad.

7) Deschutes Gluten Free
While not yet available in bottled form (although I have heard rumblings that they are hoping to start bottling eventually… fingers crossed for sooner, rather than later), I wanted to include this in the test anyway. I’ve had the beer in the Deschutes Brewery and Public House on NW 11th and Davis, and I love it, and when I called to find out how to get it “to go,” they assured me that they could fill any size receptacle (that seals), so I went in with my Mason jar and got a pint and a half. A little spendy, but I really think it might be worth it.

The Deschutes was our pick for the Pale Ale lover. It had the 3rd best head, a bitter–lets call it tangy–smell, and had hints of grapefruit and bergamot in the flavor. I have a vague recollection of tasting apricot when I had it with a burger at the restaurant, but no one could find that flavor when we did the tasting, so maybe the complexity is affected by food. Either way, it’s an absolutely lovely beer, and those in our party who love IPA were all impressed. Get yourself a jar (or if you can drink that much, a growler, they sell them at Deschutes) and pick some up, or just go down there and enjoy a great meal. They’re not paying me to say this… it really is just that good.

8) Green’s Amber Ale
This one has the second best head, a creamy white that sets off the amber of the beer itself. Even compared with gluten filled amber ales, this one got a very enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s tangy, with strong apple and gentle coffee flavors. Mild hints of caramel that linger and a malty twinge. A lovely, complex, flavorful choice. And, as with all three of the Green’s options, it comes in a 16.9oz bottle, so there’s more to share! There was no disputing it’s spot on the top three list.

9) Green’s Dubbel Dark
This one takes the award for best head, which apparently the Belgians (from whom this fine beverage comes to us) scrape off. We did not. It’s sweet and dark, caramely and beautiful. Dark beer people loved this one, and I’m assured it’s as good as the gluten filled options for the person looking for a barley wine substitute. I can’t say enough good things about this beer; it’s hands down my favorite. My friend Lexie determined “it’s like a beer cappuccino!”

All of these options, with the exception of the Deschutes, can be found at various locations around our lovely city. I picked them all up at Beermongers on SE Division, which I love, because they have all of these beers, and because they’re friendly, and it’s on my way home.

For more information on these beers, check out their websites, or the links below. The above are only the opinions of a panel of six judges, with varying tastes, so who knows what you’ll discover!

gluten free beer

Further Reading

Gluten Free Beer Festival, compiled by a group in the UK. Not all of these options are available here in the States, but it’s fun to read, and they have ratings and explanations that might be helpful for others who are new to the beer scene!

For more information on the gluten free Deschutes brew, check out these sites, far more knowledgeable than I: Review one. Review two.

Restaurant Review: Natural Selection on Alberta

There are so many ways to twist the name of this restaurant to make a fancy headline that I’m not going to do it. Not that I’m “into” fancy, eye-grabbing headlines to begin with. If you’re not familiar with Natural Selection, read up on some Darwin. Ha ha. I kid. In reality, Natural Selection on Alberta is a restaurant in (for today, but maybe not tomorrow,) sunny Portland, Oregon. Being on Alberta, you know there’s an angle, don’t you? To be honest, there are several angles. First up, Natural Selection is an upscale vegetarian restaurant. It is vegan and gluten-free friendly. The menu changes weekly on Wednesdays.

Natural Selection Menu

(Sadly, those fried artichokes are not gluten-free! Maybe next time?)

Although a person can order à la carte, it’s really best to do a four course meal with selections from the menu. As you can see, the menu has two columns. So there are 2 of each course to choose from. For an extra 11 clams, you can get wine pairings to go with your courses. We didn’t do the wine pairings, opting instead for a pair of interesting (and strong) cocktails from their extensive and interesting cocktail menu.

Eating at Natural Selection reminded me of a pair of restaurant rules we followed during our trip to Italy. Generally speaking, it’s a good rule to never eat in a restaurant that: A) You don’t know, and B) Is empty. In Venice, it wasn’t enough to look for a restaurant that was full of people, because it might be full of tourists eating terrible Italian Cuisine cooked especially for tourists. We noticed that in restaurants where the food was bad, the Italians would look uncomfortable, almost to the point of looking stunned or visibly dismayed. So to our “no empty restaurants” rule, we added a “look for happy eaters” rule. These two rules served us well. The reason Natural Selection reminded me of these rules is because when we went there, everybody looked happy.

Besides the interesting menu and happy patrons, they have very cool lighting, nice decor, had Radiohead playing the entire time we were there, and their staff was friendly and prompt. I’m going to get our one complaint out of the way right now: The seating there is kind of uncomfortable. The restaurant is basically a row of tables with chairs on one side and cushioned “booth” type seating on the other. The chairs are hard and too upright for my tastes. On the cushion side, there is a large gap between the bottom cushion and the back cushion, so Sienna ended up sitting with her purse behind her to avoid it.

Gluten free sweet pea soup

On to the food. On the menu posted up above, I did the fully vegan, gluten-free right-hand side run of courses. Note that our waitress did mention that you should tell them that you’re gluten free. She said that there might be a difference in what you get, depending on what’s on the menu. Before the courses began, we were brought a tasty little amuse bouche. Then came the Sweet Pea Soup. This soup was delicious, and didn’t taste like any pea soup I had ever had. The carrot and pickled red onion island there in the middle was crunchy, which served as a nice counterpoint to the creamy soup.

Next up on my side was a Radish and Cucumber Salad, the photo of which didn’t turn out, but which was very interesting. It had pickled sea weed (“sea beans”) and radishes, so it was kind of pickly, vinegary, and bitter. Pictured above is a Mixed Romaine Salad with pear, dried figs, and a walnut dressing. That was the better of the two salads. I found my salad a little too monochromatic, and liked the more sweet and cheesy walnut flavor of the romaine salad.

Abalone Mushroom on Polenta - gluten free

Here’s the Abalone Mushroom on fried Polenta. This dish was really amazing. The Polenta was done perfectly, and the sauce was tasty. We had to look up what “romesco” was. It’s a sauce made from nuts.

Asparagus and new potato hash

Here is the Asparagus & New Potato Hash. This was like having a wonderful potato hash with asparagus (as the name would suggest) but came with a tasty vinaigrette that made the dish very interesting.

rice pudding strawberry consomme

Before the dessert, we were brought a small scoop of hibiscus strawberry sorbet, which was amazing. For dessert, delicious coffee from a press and a nutty vanilla rice pudding with a delicious strawberry rhubarb consomme. This was awesome! If you’re looking for a big sweet slab of rice pudding, you might be disappointed, but I was delighted with this light nutty and fruity dessert. Mmmmmmm.

The dishes are definitely paced, so it’s the kind of place where you’re going to want to slow down, enjoy the company of your friends, dine, and people watch. However, nothing took overly long. As mentioned earlier, our server was friendly and knowledgeable, and 3/4 of the menu can be made gluten-free. I should also mention that the servings are the exact right size so that you won’t end up walking away overstuffed or feeling hungry. How can you go wrong? This place is awesome, and is perfect for special occasions.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars (wow!)
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Natural Selection
www.naturalselectionpdx.com
3033 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211 / 503.288.5883

Many thanks and a quick shout-out to Liam for the restaurant recommendation.

Restaurant Review: Gustav’s and The Rheinlander

We were a little confused about Gustav’s and the Rheinlander German restaurants. They are listed differently and have different names and websites. So to clear things up: It’s basically the same place with the same menu. Gustav’s is more of a pub atmosphere, whereas The Rheinlander is restaurant atmosphere. Both serve up cocktails and German food. As far as the pub atmosphere goes, it’s barely like a bar or a pub, really. More like a restaurant with a huge bar on one side. We decided to do the pub thing and ate at Gustav’s.

While we’re talking about atmosphere, it would be criminal for us to not mention that there are staff in lederhosen, and that the decor is full-on what you imagine when you think of Oktoberfest. At least that’s the feeling I got. Everyone we talked to at the restaurant were very helpful, particularly our server, whose name was Sara. She was knowledgeable and just: awesome. Gustav’s has a separate gluten-free menu, which they get points for. They also serve gluten-free beer: St Peter’s Sorgham Beer. For the vegetarian readers, I have to say that although they have a separate vegetarian menu, scanning it makes me think that if you’re gluten free AND vegetarian, you should probably steer clear.

The Sea of Cortez

We decided to get some drinks, and that was definitely a good idea. Sienna got the Love for Sale, which is vodka, passion fruit liqueur, pineapple juice and orange juice. This tastes exactly like Hawaiian Punch, but with alcohol in it. I got something called a Sea of Cortez: “Arbol chile infused Herradura blanco tequila, fresh grapefruit and lime juices, triple sec, served on the rocks with an Arbol chile, salt and sugar dusted rim.” This drink is awesome! Spicy, bitter, and sour with some hot chile burn. This photo reminds me to mention that Gustav’s has only one gluten-free mustard, the spicy kind.

Ceasar Salad at Gustav's

We have to say that our eating experience at Gustav’s ended up being a little lackluster. The Caesar Salad was definitely of the Americanized, mayonnaisey sort. The lettuce was fresh, but the flavors ended up being too monochromatic for us. We were wishing for some more lemon and some bite to the cheese.

Gluten free cheese fondue

The gluten-free fondue ends up being a little bit challenging. Unlike another place we could name, they don’t serve the fondue with vegetables. Instead, they serve it with two bratwurst sausages. The cheese flavor was good, although we both thought it was too salty. But dipping sausages into melted cheese was a little too hardcore carnivore artery hardening for me. I was really wishing for some veggies or some gluten-free bread pieces. The bratwurst was good, at least as far as we could tell. We’re not really experts in the sausage/wurst area, so your mileage may vary.

gluten free schnitzel, mashed potatoes, and mushrooms

Here is where I explain what a schnitzel is. They take a piece of meat like a chicken breast, pound it flat, bread it, and then fry it. In the case of the Gustav’s gluten-free schnitzel, this simply means that they pound it flat and then grill it. This is the chicken schnitzel with portabella mushrooms and mashed potatoes. The mushrooms were the best part, even though they seemed to have been steamed. The mashed potatoes were OK. The chicken was flavorless and kind of overdone.

gluten-free flourless chocolate cake

It seems like you can’t throw a rock in Portland without hitting a slice of gluten-free flourless chocolate cake, and I certainly cannot complain about that! Besides the crazy cocktail, the dessert was the best part of our meal. It was creamy, rich, and had this salty thing going on, which I really liked. Gustav’s serves Illy coffee, which we really love and went perfectly with the flourless chocolate cake.

It was at this point that we decided, based on our first experience at Gustav’s, that they are kind of like the Applebees of German cuisine, except with Lederhosen and wandering accordion players. Depending on your tastes, that might be a good thing or a bad thing. We thought that the food, although it was all edible, lacked a spark. If you scroll back up and look at the presentation on all of the dishes, you’ll see the same thing. It’s all really sort of functional. We do, once again, have to comment about how great the staff was, though.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Gustav’s & The Rheinlander
gustavs.net & rheinlander.com
5035 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland OR 97213 / 503.288.5503