Miscellanous News: Subway and Burgerville Go Gluten Free Friendly

SUBWAY Gluten Free

We heard about it first on our Facebook group page. SUBWAY has been in the gluten-free news for a couple of months by starting to provide gluten free bread (and brownies?) at their restaurants. We have yet to try the sandwiches, but have heard good things about them. They are also going to great lengths to educate their employees about gluten free issues and to prevent cross-contamination. For these things, I can only be grateful. Here’s a press release they sent us recently:

Gluten-Free goes mainstream: Oregon Subway Restaurants are first casual sandwich shop to offer gluten-free menu items

For the estimated 16 million Americans with gluten sensitivity, eating out can pose a real challenge. Now Oregonians can kick off the New Year with new choices, when SUBWAY restaurants across the state begin offering gluten-free sandwich options and gluten-free brownies as regular menu items after a successful test in Portland and Bend this summer.

Oregon is one of a handful of states to offer these alternatives, based on its reputation for mainstreaming food trends that might be niche alternatives elsewhere. When Subway’s Oregon stores had the highest average number of gluten free rolls sold during the test, it was clear that gluten-free foods are popular locally.

Gluten’s ubiquity can present a challenge for many families and work groups as they try to coalesce around a restaurant choice.

SUBWAY’s wheat-free sandwich rolls and brownies are produced in a gluten-free facility and are individually packaged. SUBWAY sandwich artists are trained to prevent cross-contamination during the sandwich-making process. For example, one employee will prepare a gluten-free sandwich order from start to finish. Other techniques include single-use knives and eliminating contact between traditional sandwich rolls and other ingredients including meat, cheese and vegetables.

Burgerville gluten free bun

Burgerville

Speaking of fast food, Burgerville, Portland’s much-loved burger chain, has come out with gluten-free buns that they are testing at two restaurants locally (25th & SE Powell in Portland and Fisher’s Landing in Vancouver). We went to one of the restaurants to check it out ourselves. As you can see from the photo above, the bun is delivered in a wrapper to help prevent cross-contamination. We were also handed a questionnaire to fill out.

After having heard so much about Burgerville from people we know, we were unprepared for how unappetizing their burgers were. The patties were overcooked. We both felt like the bun, which is produced by Udi’s in Colorado, did not compare well to the buns you can get from Jensen’s. The buns were dry, crumbly, and generally unappetizing. Of course, since the buns were being served in a package, there was no way to toast them, so I guess that would be expected.

On the plus side, the staff was extremely friendly, and the food came out fast. On the minus side, the restaurant was freezing cold. Did we mention that the burger patties weren’t very good? If you want to try them out yourself, Burgerville will be testing these buns until January 12, so you still have a few days left to try them.

Coming Product: Jensen’s Better Buns

We were contacted last month by Jensen’s Bread and Bakeries, who are working on bringing a brand new gluten free product to market in Portland, Oregon. Both David Jensen and his daughter, Brenna, were diagnosed with Celiac disease a few years ago, and like most people quickly learned that they weren’t going to have anything resembling real bread without some action on their part. Most of our readers can certainly relate, I’m sure. After suffering through months of awful imitations, they started making their own bread.

David’s wife, Debbie, who has been a recreational baker for over 40 years, started working on recipes to make better gluten free bread and buns. She and David spent two and a half years coming up with a product that they think is good enough to sell. Then they took a course at the Portland Small Business Development Center to figure out the next steps. They are almost ready to start selling them, and we got a sneak peek.

Jensen's Better Buns Packaging

The good news is that we have tried the buns and agree that they are awesome. The bad news is that you can’t buy them – yet. I met David last week and we talked about gluten-free bread, buns, and what the next step is for their company. David is very clearly serious about bread. They are in the process of getting a commercial kitchen set up and hope to get their products on shelves near you in the first quarter of this year.

Gluten-Free bun

Take a look at this. I brought one of these to work last week and a fellow co-worker who is also gluten-free saw it and couldn’t believe that it was a gluten-free bun. The buns are flexible and soft. They toast excellently and aren’t crumbly. They don’t need to be toasted and freeze well. The flavor is as close to a hamburger bun as I’ve had since I stopped eating the real thing. Sometimes buns and breads will end up having a beany flavor, or a corn aftertaste. These buns don’t suffer from that problem.

Gluten-free burger

Given buns like these, we had to make some hamburgers immediately! These make awesome hamburgers. They are the best gluten-free buns we have tasted and are head and shoulders above the competition. The Jensens have other gluten-free products in the pipeline, including sesame seed buns, multi-grain buns, and bread. You can check in on their progress on their website, Gluten-Free Concepts. They can be found on Twitter, here and on also Facebook, here. We’re looking forward to hearing more from them!

Questions From Our Readers and Updates

In the past couple of days, we’ve received a handful of questions from our readers. I’m posting them here with the hopes that someone else will have some helpful information. We also have some updates on past reviews.

Our first question comes from Jack, who will be visiting Portland soon and will be staying near downtown on SW Morrison. His 5 year old son is celiac and Jack wants to know if there is somewhere nearby to get gluten-free hamburgers or hot dogs. The only place we know about is Deschutes. Does anybody else have any options?

Next, we were contacted by a reader who was looking for a place in Portland to get gluten-free cosmetics, toothpaste, and over-the-counter drugs. To me it sounds like a job for the Triumph Dining Grocery Guide. Does anybody know of a place in or around Portland to get these sorts of items?

Last, we received a request for somewhere to get a slice of good gluten-free pie. We definitely want an answer to that!

Next up, I don’t know if anybody checks up on past reviews we’ve done, but every once in a while new information becomes available and we make changes to our reviews. We recently changed our reviews of the above-mentioned Deschutes Brewery, and of Picazzo’s Pizza in Sellwood. We have news about Sweetpea Bakery.

Look for some exciting news about bread and buns coming this Wednesday!