Good News! Pambiche is Gluten-Free Friendly

Pambiche Gluten Free Fritters

Great news everybody! Our favorite Cuban restaurant, Pambiche on NE Glisan, is now gluten-free friendly, sporting an “alternativas” menu (PDF here). I’m not going to go into a great deal of depth with this article. Suffice it to say that they have a number of items on their regular menu which are also gluten free. All of their fritters are gluten-free, as are their fried plaintains, yuca root, salads, entrees, and even a couple of desserts.

Pambiche Camrones al Ajillo

Here’s what I got for an entree when we visited: The Camarones al Ajillo. These are delicious garlicky prawns with a sour orange sauce served with white rice, pan frito, and ensalada de aguacate.

The wait staff at Pambiche is always really awesome, the food comes out in a reasonable amount of time, and there is always a ton of stuff on the walls to keep a person’s attention. My only real complaint with the place is that it is too small. They really need to get a larger dining area. There always seem to be people waiting for seating every time we drive by.

I have to say that I’m amazed and excited with how many restaurants in Portland are starting to get hip to the gluten free jive. Did I mention that the alternative menu also has some vegetarian and vegan options? Good deal.

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


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.

Horrible Service at Iorio

Usually I prefer to talk about stuff that I really love, and spread good news about restaurants and cafes that are doing things right. Recently, we had such a bad experience at a restaurant that I feel the need to post it here.

We went to Iorio for New Year’s Eve and had the worst experience at a restaurant since our hair raising Valentines Day at Wild Abandon. We had made reservations and we did notify the restaurant ahead of time that one of our party (me) was gluten free, but all night long the staff kept putting the wrong food in front of me.

When we first reviewed Iorio, we thought it was really great, and definitely want to note that this is one experience on one night. At the same time…

From the very start, our waiter was brief to the point of being rude. When our appetizers came, he basically threw the plates down in front of us without a word and zipped off. I had to wait for him to come back so that I could find out if the dish was gluten free, which it wasn’t. Then I had to wait for several minutes while a dish was made for me. Now I could see this happening once during a meal at a restaurant, but not three times. It happened with almost everything they put in front of me. The one time it didn’t happen, the person who brought us our food wasn’t aware that I was gluten free and didn’t know if the dish was (it turned out that it was, but by this time I was paranoid).

For dessert, a normal piece of cake was placed in front of me, and when I asked, I was amazed to discover that they had forgotten again, and I ended up waiting at least 15 minutes for a substitute dessert to come out. Again, if they had just found out, this would have been OK. Instead, they had my reservation for several weeks, and the waiter knew that I was gluten free pretty soon after he threw the appetizers at us. When they messed up our desserts, Sienna got up, went to the back, and asked to talk to the manager. The manager acted hostile when she complained about the bad service. There’s even more to the story, but we’re choosing not to include it here. Suffice it to say that our dessert was not their last mistake.

Because I’m gluten free, I know that I’m kind of high maintenance. I do my best to express gratitude for the extra trouble that restaurants have to put into serving me. While all out the food we were served was outstanding, the service at Iorio was so bad that I wondered if we had done something by mistake to irk our waiter. Then we noticed that the couple at the table next to us was just as unhappy. We have since then also noticed that the Yelp page on Iorio is starting to fill up with complaints about the service.

I keep reading about how the chef at Iorio is winning awards. So it confuses me that he would turn a blind eye and allow visitors at his restaurant to have such a horrible experience.

Class this Sunday at Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Wow! This is going to be a full month. We just got this notice from Portobello Vegan Trattoria (our review here) that they’re having a gluten-free cooking class this weekend.

This Sunday, we’re holding a gluten-free cooking class. It’s the fourth class in our series…we’ll show folks how to put together some treats to host a gluten-free vegan dinner party, then sit down together and enjoy our work with some wine, soft drinks, or gluten-free beer!

Here’s the link to sign up:

And on another note, we’ve added a lot of gluten-free items to our menu! Every night, there are SEVERAL appetizers, entrees, and even a couple of desserts that a gluten intolerant person can enjoy.

What: Gluten-Free Vegan Dinner Party
Where: Portobello Vegan Trattoria
1125 SE Division St. Portland, Oregon, 97202
When: October 9, 2011 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Price: $70.00
For more info, call: 503-754-5993

Gluten Free Sandwiches at Seven Virtues on NE Glisan

Gina, who writes the Portland gluten-free blog Gluten-Free Gourmand, posted a review of the gluten-free sandwiches at Seven Virtues on NE Glisan at 60th. We visited and have to agree that their sandwiches are awesome! We didn’t want to steal Gina’s thunder, so that’s it for our review. You should check out her review, here: Seven Virtues Serves GF Sandwiches

Oh! And they have really good coffee and espresso drinks. And gluten-free goodies from Petunia’s.

Seven Virtues
5936 Northeast Glisan Street Portland, OR 97213 503.236.7763

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
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 &
5035 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland OR 97213 / 503.288.5503

Andina Gluten Free – A Tale of Two Nights

While I consider myself enough of a foodie to run a blog that reviews restaurants, I’m aware that I have a few blind spots. For example, Korean food. I wouldn’t know good Korean food if it bit me on the leg. I feel the same way about Tapas, and it isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve actually had plenty of Tapas, and have eaten them in several places (in San Francisco and Seattle) where I was assured that theirs was of great quality. Maybe I should say that I don’t feel a great affinity for Tapas. At the same time, I do feel like I’ve eaten enough great food that I know it when I eat it. And I think Sienna’s experience is similar.

Does it sound like I’m winding up to deliver a negative review? It does, doesn’t it? Well, not so fast. This is a tale of two nights, and I think that it’s going to be a little long-winded, so you might want to get a cup of coffee.

We’ve wanted to cover Andina on Gluten Free Portland for quite a long time. It’s a fancy Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl at NW 13th and Glisan. Not only do they have the reputation of being a great restaurant, they are also very seriously gluten-free friendly. Andina has a separate gluten-free menu, and their staff is very knowledgeable and friendly about the topic. I have to give them 5 out of 5 possible stars on the gluten-free experience. This fits, considering that one of the features of truly good quality restaurants is a high level of service. Andina is simply not messing around when it comes to service. The other two things that Andina has down pat is cocktails and desserts. You cannot go wrong with either.

The first night we went to Andina also happened to be Sienna’s birthday. We had heard a lot about the place, and had been there once before but just for drinks. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they have an extensive gluten-free menu, which is basically the same as the main menu with the few gluten-containing dishes removed. The menu is extensive and adventurous. On the left-hand side of the menu are Tapas–small plates for sharing. On the right-hand side are entrees.

On this night we decided to go for several small plates. Our server recommended 4-6 small plates to feed two people. We ordered the Pimiento Piquillo Relleno, which is peppers stuffed with cheese, quinoa, and ham, the Musciame de Atun, which is cured tuna with a garlic oil and what amounts to guacamole, and the Palta Rellena de Cangrejo y Langostinos, avocado stuffed with crab and prawns. We also ordered a “Causa.” These are like mashed potato cakes with fillings. We got the Morada Causa, which is a purple potato cake with shredded chicken breast. Last, we ordered a cheese assortment with quince jam, called the Quesos Artesanos con Membrillo.

Some quick notes: The cosmopolitan at Andina is top-notch. I had a greyhound, which was awesome. After you order, they bring bread, or in the case of gluten-free diners, fried yucca plant. This is a bit like eating french fries but more kind of doughy and fibrous. I loved the fried yucca plant! I’m used to having to watch everyone else at the table eat bread, and so it was a real treat to get my own “bread.”

Cured Tuna with Avocado at Andina

Of these dishes, the only one I felt a little hesitation about ordering was the cured tuna. I’m not really a cured fish kind of guy. As it turned out, neither of us was really into this dish, and we both felt that the avocado was under-ripe. Sadly, that also carried over into the prawn and crab-stuffed avocado. This dish ended up being the most disappointing to us. While it was close to being properly ripe, we thought that the avocado just wasn’t quite ready to go. The dish says you’re getting “prawns,” but for the small plate that means you’re getting a single half of a prawn, which we thought was tasteless. The crab was a “crab salad” concoction, which tasted like crab salad one might get in a grocery store deli.

Causa - purple potato cake

Check out the presentation here. They do an awesome job on presentation at Andina. We were also really disappointed by this dish. It came out cold, which we weren’t expecting. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be served, but we felt that it might be better a bit warm. It was also, on the whole, flavorless. It tasted mostly of potatoes and mayonnaise. I was really shocked and amazed at how dull this dish was.

Andina Relleno

On the good news side, the Pimiento Piquillo Rellenos were amazing. This was the dish that made us scratch our heads over the other ones. These are flavorful and complex, and are like something I’ve never quite tasted before. They must be popular, too, because we saw the waiters carrying a lot of them that night. Look at the presentation! What a great dish. We also really enjoyed the cheese assortment. It comes with toasted corn, which is unique and makes the dish fun to eat.

Gluten-free Quinoa Brownie

I mentioned earlier that the desserts at Andina are amazing. They have a brownie that is gluten-free and is made with quinoa flour. It’s called the Chocolate Andino. Wow it’s amazing. Also amazing is the Mousse de Valle y Selva, which the menu describes as “a tiered semi-freddo of velvety lucuma and espresso mousses, chocolate ganache, and crushed cocoa nib meringue, served with espresso shortbread.” Unfortunately, the shortbread is not gluten-free, but they are happy to put it on the side if your friend wants to eat it. This mousse is easily on par with the best of all the desserts I had during our trip to Italy, which is really saying something. You really should try it.

The brownie came out with Happy Birthday on it, which was unfortunate because it was for the wrong person. The brownie was mine, but it was Sienna’s birthday. Doh! We decided not to make a big deal out of it, considering the service up until that point had been amazing.

What we did next is not for the weak of heart. After discussing the meal between ourselves over the next couple of days, and finding that we agreed on the weak points and the strong points, we decided to call Andina and tell them that we had been disappointed with our meal. We were confused. Andina has an adventurous menu, great service, some really promising dishes, some amazing desserts, and people rave about it. We were confused about how they could have served us something that tasted like mayonnaisey crab salad on an under-ripe avocado. Sienna did the calling. She ended up speaking to the manager, and spent some time with him. One of our questions was, “Did we get dishes that aren’t very flavorful?” Maybe we picked the wrong dishes? Maybe we should have tried the entrees instead?

I’ve found that complaining at restaurants can be a harrowing affair. Besides having the feeling that you might be asking for some spit in your replacement dish, I’ve had one or two really awful experiences. For example, I once had a chef come out into the dining area, walk over to our table, and ask if I could tell him what I didn’t like about the dish. He stood there, awkwardly, looking at the floor with hunched shoulders, while I told him that I thought the dish was over-cooked and tasteless (he asked–and I wanted to be honest). Then he apologized and walked back into the kitchen. The restaurant comped the dish, and we never went back.

I should mention here that we did not tell Andina that we were Gluten Free Portland. We never tell restaurants. They might have known who we were by Sienna’s name–there aren’t a lot of Siennas running around–but I doubt it. The manager at Andina asked us to come back and try them again. He sent us a gift card and a letter in the mail. He asked us to make sure he was a aware when we would be coming back, and he told us that he would make sure we had a better experience.

So we went back, and we told him that we were coming. This was a little bit at odds with our usual policy of showing up at restaurants anonymously, but we decided that it was the right thing to do. We also went with a plan: we decided to get some entrees instead of small plates. For the entrees, we got the Dorato al Rocoto y Kion, which is the fish of the day over a shiitake mushroom, with bacon in a broth, and served with asparagus-quinoa fried rice. I got the Arroz con Pato–Duck with rice. For an appetizer, we ordered the Anticucho de Pulpo–grilled octopus kebob.

Pisco Sour at Andina

The Pisco Sour at Andina is awesome! You should get one.

Octopus Kebob at Andina

While ordering, we mentioned our situation to our server. It turned out that he had already been alerted to our presence. We consulted with him about our dishes with an eye towards making sure that the dishes we chose would be flavorful, and that seemed to work. We really liked the octopus kebob dish. It was garlicky and interesting. It comes with a chimichurri–which is kind of a chunky green sauce. This was the kind of dish we had been looking for the first night!

Roasted Sea Bass in Broth

The roasted fish in broth. The menu states that this dish comes with mahi mahi, but on the night we visited it was made with sea bass. Again, this dish was great. The fish was perfectly prepared. The broth was excellent. The dish has sesame oil in it, which makes for a very interesting flavor combination with the fish and shiitake mushroom.

Rice with Duck

The duck with rice, which was exceptional. They cook the duck breast how you like it, which is really key with a duck dish like this. You can see it’s a little rare here, which was excellent. The duck breast comes with a duck confit, and a sauce that is a little bit like a sweet and sour. I was very happy with my dish. The rice for the fish and the duck has quinoa seeds and slices of asparagus in it. Also during the meal, we were brought a little gluten-free fish cake treat. The cake was made with quinoa and sea bass.

During dessert they brought by a taste of guava and prickly pear sorbet. For dessert, I had no choice but to order the mousse, which was just as fantastic as it had been the other night. Sienna got the crème brûlée run, which is three different flavors of crème brûlée in separate pots. On that night the flavors were lemon verbena, caramel, and dark chocolate. All three of these were great. Did we mention that the coffee is excellent? It is.

We ended up happy, stuffed, and content. We were also relieved. The both of us were really worried that our second night at Andina would prove to be as disappointing as the first. We were delighted that we were able to tell everyone who asked that all of our dishes were delicious. We’ll doubtlessly be back for special occasions, although we hope to be able to go with a much smaller profile the next time, and we will consult with our waiter to make sure that we’re choosing flavorful dishes.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

1314 NW Glisan St., Portland OR 97209 / 503.228.9535

Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro Gluten Free Event Coming in May

(Later Note: This event was cancelled due to lack of attendees.)

We heard from the Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro that they are having a gluten-free wine dinner event in mid May. It sounds really amazing. We haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, but now they’re on our list. Here is their event announcement (edited by us for brevity):

Love Wine? Gluten Intolerant or Celiac? Thirst is a gluten free-friendly restaurant (about 90% gluten free, no flour used for thickening etc)*. We have many GF customers and decided to create a fun gluten free wine dinner. Limited Seating – only 28 seats (we plan on having another dinner in the early Fall). $70 per person (all-inclusive). Ticket Pre-Purchase Required (Get Tickets Here or call 503-295-2747 during business hours)

Three Courses + Appetizer Reception
Wednesday, May 18th
6:30 PM, Thirst’s Cellar Room

Wine & Appetizer Reception
Artisanal Cheese and House Made Savory Grain Free Crackers
Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Reduction
Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms topped with Pecorino Romano
Coleman ’08 Pinot Gris

Starter Course
Seafood Bouillabaisse
Scallops, Shrimp, Clams, Crab and Salmon in a Creamy Saffron Broth
Sineann ’08 Pinot Blanc

Main Course
Bistro Steak with Mushroom Pan Sauce and Potato & Sweet Potato Gratin
Sugar Snap Peas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Youngberg Hill ’08 Natasha Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Bourbon Cake
House Made Chocolates
Mycella Blue Cheese with Honey
DavenLore ’08 Syrah Forte

* Note Thirst is not a 100% gluten free restaurant.

Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro
0315 SW Montgomery St, Portland, OR 97201

Gluten Free Crepes on Alberta – Suzette Creperie

We’ve been to a couple of creperies in Portland, both in the food cart form, and also in the more traditional restaurant form. Suzette Creperie is almost a cross between the two. In back is an airstream trailer where you give your order and also where the crepes are prepared. The dining room is in the front, and is warm and homey with a nice atmosphere.

Suzette Creperie in Portland Oregon - NA Alberta

To get to the airstream, you start on Alberta and walk down this sort of alleyway to order. Suzette got points for volunteering up front that they share cooking surfaces between the gluten-free and the regular. That was very cool. But yes, sadly, the crepes here are not for the very sensitive – like basically all the other crepe places we’ve reviewed here. I’m sensitive enough that I “get glutened” now and then, but I had no trouble with the food at Suzette. At the same time, we can’t recommend Suzette to the very sensitive.

Suzette Gluten Free Crepes

On the good news side, Suzette shows films on Friday nights. They’ve been doing Hitchcock movies lately. We caught North by Northwest the first time we went, and Vertigo on our second visit. During both visits, everyone was extremely friendly and the staff was attentive. Our food came out in a reasonable amount of time and was the right temperature. We liked the Suzette crepes a little better than crepes at the other places we’ve reviewed for two reasons. A) They have adventurous flavors, and B) They’re a little thinner and more tender.

Gluten Free Savory Crepe

Sorry for the bad photo. It was kind of dark in there. Suzette makes 3 kinds of crepes. First there is the standard buckwheat crepe, which has gluten. Second, there is the vegan crepe (which also contains gluten). Third, there is the gluten-free crepe, which we need to find out the vegan status on. The gluten-free crepe costs a buck more. Did we mention that Suzette has plenty of vegan options? It would be pretty easy to get a vegan meal there.

Suzette has some pre-made crepe flavor combinations, but also gives you the ability to create your own crepe by choosing between a number of ingredients. On the savory side, we tried the Smoked Salmon (which has salmon, goat cheese, spinach, and capers) and also created our own with Gruyere, marsala soaked figs, and prosciutto on one night and goat cheese, marsala soaked figs, and prosciutto on the other night. I preferred the goat cheese over the Gruyere, but then I’m a sucker for goat cheese.

The Normandie Gluten Free Dessert Crepe

As with other crepe places, it may be a good idea to share your crepes. If you get a savory crepe AND a dessert crepe, it’s going to be too much for one person to eat, really. We got our own savory crepes and then split the dessert crepes. For dessert, we tried the chocolate peanut butter crepe on night one, and the Normandie on the second night. The Normandie has lemon butter, topped with cider-poached pears, creme fraiche ice cream, and cider caramel sauce. We both agreed that the Normandie was significantly better than the chocolate peanut butter crepe, which we found to be way too peanut-buttery and not enough chocolaty.

We also got decaf coffee with our dessert crepes and were very happy with the coffee at Suzette. So yeah, good coffee, good crepes, and a laid back, friendly atmosphere. The thing we liked best about the Suzette was that we felt transported. That is to say that it gave us the feeling as if we were traveling somewhere, and had found a fun place to eat. The combination of the atmosphere, the adventurous crepe flavors, and the friendly people (not just the staff, but we had nice interactions with patrons) made for a great experience on both nights we visited. We’ll probably be back for more.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free friendly but Ask Questions! Shared cooking surfaces.
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Add $1 for the gluten free.

Suzette Creperie
2921 NE Alberta St., Portland OR 97211 / 503.473.8657