Portland Places We’ve Been Recently

Sometimes we find ourselves going back to places we reviewed months or years ago, and we’re often gratified to find that we were right the first time! Here’s a quick run-down on places we’ve been recently. Some new, most not.

Seven Virtues Cafe

Seven Virtues Cafe

If you’re in the NE and want something good for lunch any day of the week, you should check out Seven Virtues on NE Glisan at 60th. They have great espresso drinks, delicious gluten-free and vegan goodies by Petunia’s (our review here), and gluten-free bread available for their sandwiches. I am especially partial to the Frazer Park sandwich, pictured above. They also make a mean iced mocha.

PSU Farmer's Market

Portland Farmers Markets

We recently saw the documentary Food, Inc and decided to see what would happen if we started going to our local Farmer’s Markets. Besides fresh veggies, cheese, eggs, and flowers from local farms, there are a lot of local gluten-free businesses which sell their goods at your local farmer’s market. The PSU farmers market on Saturday morning is host to Petunia’s and New Cascadia Traditional Bakery (our info and review here). I saw Paobread (our review here) at the Montavilla Farmers Market the last time we went there. At the Buckman Farmers Market a person can pick up gluten-free hand pies made by Queen of Hearts (review coming soon). Although we haven’t gone yet, we’ve been told that Happy Camper Bread can be bought fresh at Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Chez Machin

We’ve stopped by Chez Machin (our review here) on SE Hawthorne now and again. Although we wish their savory crepes had more options, they keep blowing our minds with their specials and their dessert crepes. We really recommend getting whatever the special entree of the day is, as long as it can be had gluten-free.

Dessert Crepe at Suzette - Yow!

Suzette Creperie

Speaking of crepes, we went to Suzette Creperie (our review) on NE Alberta for Bastille Day, dined on delicious crepes, and listened to AnnaPaul and the Bearded Lady.

Blackwood Cafe

Blackwood Cafe

A recent Groupon or Living Social deal informed us that the Blackwood Cafe on NE 70th has gluten-free bread available. I went there by myself recently and got their special of the day, which was an intriguing sandwich with gruyere cheese, apple slices, and (if my memory serves) Prosciutto. The sandwich was really good, but the bread was like Udi’s, which isn’t really my favorite. The iced mocha was really chocolatey. They have a fun menu, but their atmosphere is kind of uncomfortable for some reason.

Favorite Things from the Farmers Markets

Things we expected to be better from the Farmers Markets: tomatoes.
Things we might not have: celery, cherries, cucumbers, cheeses, and sausages.
Celery? We found thin, kind of sickly-looking celery at the Montavilla Market recently and what a surprise! It’s got a surprising, delightful flavor. Almost herbal or floral. Mmmmm. At the PSU Market look for my favorite cucumber of all time – the lemon cucumber. Also at the PSU Market, we found Rogue Creamery’s Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese and wow is it amazing, especially with a little of your favorite jam. Finally, we’ve tried some items from Olympic Provisions and have yet to be disappointed.

Summer is Finally Here

Thanks to everyone who emailed us about Subway stores getting gluten-free bread and brownies. We kind of ignored the news because we’re more into supporting our local businesses. We do really appreciate it when people email us, even though sometimes it can take a long time for us to get back to them.

Got any recommendations for shopping at the Farmers Markets? We’re still really new at it and learning. Let us know in the comments!

Petunia’s Pies and Pastries Gluten-Free Vegan Bakery

We’ve been meaning to review Petunia’s Pies for months now. Literally for months. So a couple of weeks ago we got up early on a Saturday morning and drove over to the PSU Farmers Market, where Petunia’s has a stand. It also bears mentioning that Petunia’s goodies can be found at Whole Foods markets, Blossoming Lotus, Cloud Seven Cafe, Ruby Jewel Scoop Shop, Spoke Coffee, Mississippi Pizza (our review here) & Seven Virtues Coffee (who we mentioned recently).

gluten-free baked goodies at Petunia's Stand

Here is the start of a fine Saturday morning. Compared to New Cascadia’s cart, which is a stone’s throw down the sidewalk, Petunia’s is more about the sweet goodies. In the case this morning were brownies, muffins, cookies, pound cake, bundt cake, pie, cupcakes, cakes, and donuts.

Gluten Free Cookies and Pound Cake at Petunia's

Letting the camera do the talking…

Gluten-free donuts

Gluten Free Donut

We also got a box full of items. Here they are, item by item:

Candy Girl Cookie - This is sort of like a fortified chocolate chip cookie. It has other various items in it, the most noticeable of which is raisins. I really like these cookies. They are crunchy/chewy in the right places. The added adult cookie ingredients supply extra interest. In fact, as of now, Petunia’s has my vote for the best gluten-free cookie in Portland.

Lemon Blueberry Poundcake – Because of the density and texture, it’s more like a slice of muffin with some glaze on top than pound cake. I really like the flavors, though.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Power Bar – This is something like a rice crispy bar with chocolate, dried cranberries, almonds, and coconut. This item was not our favorite, but I don’t think that we’re really the intended audience. So if you’re a fan of this sort of treat, don’t listen to anything I have to say about it.

Raspberry Lemon Glazed Cake Donut – Both of us were disappointed by this item. I found the donut to be too thick, both in texture and in size. With donuts, I’m looking for that unmistakable it-must-be-bad-for-you cake donut flavor. These had a little of that, but to me they seemed overcomplicated. (Side note – Looking for donuts? We featured gluten-free donuts a long time ago, but they weren’t also vegan.)

Bumble Berry Pie – We both loved this pie. The pie had the exact right everything: flavor, texture, crumb, crust, sour, sweet. Delicious! Awesome! Amazing.

gluten-free carrot zucchini muffin

Carrot Zucchini Muffin – Will you look at this muffin? Looks good, huh? This muffin was like a love letter to muffins. It was delicious. Besides the pie, this was our favorite item from Petunia’s. It was light, airy, crumbly, and not too sweet. I’m kind of a fan of zucchini muffins, and this was easily the best one I’ve had in years.

I forgot to mention that the people at the stand were all really friendly and helpful, on both times we visited. Besides the difficultly of preparing good baked goods without gluten, Petunia’s also delivers them without animal products. I’m really hoping that they follow the lead of New Cascadia Traditional Bakery and Crave Bake Shop and open a retail operation somewhere. Maybe in the NorthEast, within walking distance from our house?

We want to know: Have you had any of Petunia’s other pies? Any other favorite stands at the Farmers Market? Let us know in the comments.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Facility
Times we have visited: 2 (so we feel good about our score.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

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

Dessert
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
503-295-2747
info@thirstwinebar.com
www.thirstwinebar.com

Gluten Free Pizza – Garlic Jims and Eat Pizza

I almost called this post “The Gluten-Free Pizza Smack-Down!” Maybe I should have. We have two separate pizza places in Portland that offer gluten-free pizza. Garlic Jim’s has had it for quite a while. Eat Pizza! has just joined the pack. Did I mention that we have a list of places in town that serve gluten-free pizza?

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: When you walk in to most pizza places, you will see that everybody who works there is covered with flour. It’s usually pretty safe to assume that the work surfaces and ovens are also covered with flour (although Garlic Jim’s is accredited gluten-free and so it should be OK – see more on that below). While I didn’t have any problems with the Garlic Jim’s pizza, I did end up having a little trouble after the eating the Eat Pizza.

Garlic Jim’s

Garlic Jim’s is a chain with locations in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado. Strangely enough, their website doesn’t list all the locations in the Portland area, so you’ll get more accurate results with Google Maps. There are two in Vancouver WA, one in Clackamas, and two in Beaverton. We went to the Clackamas Garlic Jim’s, which is located in a strip mall on SE Sunnyside, across the street from the Sunnyside Kaiser Permanente hospital.

Garlic Jim’s is definitely a carry-out or delivery pizza place. There is some seating, but the ambiance is strictly strip mall. If you’re looking for a cozy neighborhood pizza joint with a pinball machine and booths, this is not it. The staff there was friendly and helpful when we went. The people who work there all looked like clean cut college kids. The transaction was smooth. The pizza was boxed and ready to go when we arrived.

Garlic Jim's Gluten Free Pizza

We got a pepperoni with half mushrooms and half olives. We really liked the pizza. In fact, this is now Sienna’s favorite gluten-free pizza in Portland (I still like Sellwood Pizza Kitchen best, but think this is a close second). They have a thin crust going on. Unlike most of the rest of the gluten-free pizza in Portland, the crust here is thin and crunchy, so if that’s the way you like your pizza, you should probably try Garlic Jim’s. True to their name, the pizza is garlicky. Since the crust is thin, you don’t get the phenomena with some other pizzas where they end up being like chewing on a flavorless sponge. We’ve had it twice now and the second time wasn’t as good as the first, so there may be some problems with consistency, but we still liked it.

Garlic Jim’s also has an impressive gluten-free FAQ page, where they talk about how they prevent cross-contamination and how they have a Gluten Free Food Service Accreditation from the Gluten Intolerance Group. That’s pretty awesome! Also, the gluten-free crust happens to be vegan.

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”: Add $3 for the large size.

Garlic Jim’s
www.garlicjims.com
Multiple Locations

Eat Pizza

Like Garlic Jim’s, Eat Pizza isn’t exactly a cozy restaurant, but there is seating. If we had to choose a place to sit down between the two, based only on ambiance and people-watching, we would definitely pick Eat Pizza. It’s a small place with character on Burnside at 21st that does mostly delivery and carry-out. The staff was very friendly and resemble the Garlic Jim’s staff except with tattoos and piercings. The pizza was hot and ready to go when we arrived. We did this with a Groupon, so we also ordered a Mediterranean salad.

Eat Pizza! is unique in the gluten-free pizza market for having three sizes of pizza available: Mini, In-Between, and Giant. They are also vegan-friendly and have vegan cheese available.

Eat Pizza! Gluten Free Pizza

We got a pepperoni pizza with half mushrooms and half olives. Despite the rave reviews we were hearing from our readers, we weren’t as enamored with the pizza at Eat Pizza. The pizza wasn’t as flavorful. There wasn’t enough sauce (or maybe the sauce wasn’t flavorful enough). We thought that the crust was kind of spongy and too dense. I see pizza as being one of those really subjective things. Some people really like thick crust pizza, and if that’s your thing, then maybe you would like them better than we did. I probably would have liked the pizza better if we had ordered it with extra garlic. We’re also scratching our heads a little, because we’ve always thought that New York Style pizza is thin. Maybe their regular pizza is thin?

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Avoid if you’re really sensitive.
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: 1 to 3 dollars more, depending on the size.

Eat Pizza!
www.eatpizzaportland.com
2037 SW Morrison St. Portland, OR / 503.243.FOOD

Summary

When it comes to pizza, being gluten-free is especially painful. It’s this thing we all love to eat. Part of me feels ungrateful for writing a lukewarm review for a pizza joint that has gone out of its way to offer something I can eat. At the same, there are places in town to get excellent gluten-free pizza. Our favorites are Sellwood Pizza Kitchen (our review here), the Oasis Cafe on Hawthorne (see our review), and now we can add Garlic Jim’s to the list. We have another winner!

We want to know: What kind of pizza do you like best? Got a favorite pizza place in Portland that I didn’t mention in the review? Let us know in the comments!

Restaurant Review: Asaase Ital Palace

Ah food carts. I love the food carts in Portland. They provide a nice, home-grown and informal food culture to Portland, which is very enriching. Them are big words, but I mean them! Food carts are the places where a lot of us grab a quick lunch. Asaase Ital Palace is located next to PSU in a little food cart lot down there. They offer African-Caribbean vegan-vegetarian cuisine. The menu is not long, but there’s a little something for everyone. The first time we visited, they were closed, even though we showed up during their posted business hours, which was a little strange. I’m thinking that may be part of the food cart experience?

I’m unclear on whether or not everything on the menu is gluten-free, but at the very least it looks like the majority of their offerings are. On the plus side, the person who was working when we visited was familiar with gluten and able to answer all my questions about our order. Everything they prepare is vegan.

Asaase Ital Palace Food Cart

They serve a tofu scramble, smoothies, a salad, and fried plantains. For entrees, they have more interesting offerings. #1 Ofie ne ife – “Steam ground spinach in a savory red oil sauce with boiled plantain or rice.” # 2 Red-Red – “Black eyed peas in a savory tomato sauce and palm oil with fried plantain and Gari” #3 Ites Gold & Green Plate – “Red beans stewed in tomato & coconut milk over yellow rice with greens. #4 Waakye – “Cook-up rice and peas with traditional spices.” They also have a Jerk Veggie Chick-un, which is vegan chick-un marinated in sofrito grilled with spicy sauce. Last, they have some soups.

Ites Gold and Green Plate

Red-Red

This is a cuisine that I have no experience with, and so I end up having to judge it with no context other than whether it tastes good or not. The top picture here is the #3 Ites Gold & Green Plate. The bottom is the #2 Red-Red. Everything about the Ites Gold 7 Green Plate was good. I am a real sucker for rice and beans. The rice was delicious, and so were the beans. The flavors were unique and interesting. The #2 Red-Red wasn’t quite as good. Except for the plantains, the dish was a little monochromatic and dry. On the plus side, the plantains were freshly fried, and delicious! The food took a little longer than I am used to with food carts, but everything was well put together. The food had a very wholesome feel. As mentioned above, the friendly person working the cart answered all my questions.

They have two sizes of most of their dishes, a large and a small. The small is definitely enough to feed one person. You might get a large if you’re going to pick up a few dishes to share between a group of people, which would be an ideal way to get this food. It is very interesting food, so it’s fun to sample more than one dish.

If you’re looking for a small adventure with some take-out food then it’s fun to check out the food carts in town, and you could do much worse than checking out the Asaase Ital Palace. We enjoyed our dishes and if we lived down near PSU and/or were vegan, we would probably visit them regularly.

We want to know: Do you have any favorite food carts in Portland? Have you eaten at Asaase Ital Palace? What did you think? Let us know!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Asaase Ital Palace
Asaase Ital Palace Facebook Page
1600 SW 5th and College / 503.851.2511

Restaurant Review: Family Dining at Grandma Leeth’s

Welcome to another restaurant review here at Gluten Free Portland. We certainly took our time getting around to Grandma Leeth’s. For one thing, it’s kind of all the way across town from us. For the other, it’s very much a family restaurant. In that department, it’s like Old Wives Tales on steroids. They also try to cover a lot of ground. For example, they characterize their menu as “World Comfort Food.” They also have WiFi and several different flavors of childcare. For example, you can bring your 2 to 9 year old kids and have them eat in another room – with supervision by their childcare staff. They also (of course) have a kid’s menu.

The best way I could come up with to describe the atmosphere is sort of upscale Sesame Street. There is a main dining area which is separated from a large playroom by a red wall with variously shaped windows in it. In the back upstairs they have a smaller dining area which our waitress described as “a more formal dining area.” Generally, the place has a fun, energetic atmosphere and gives a person a nice feeling of being safe. (We arrived kind of early on a Saturday night so the restaurant was a little empty. It filled up later.)

Adult Seating at Grandma Leeth's

red-wall-at-grandma-leeths-dscn4154

Play Room at Grandma Leeth's

gluten-free-art-grandma-leeths-dscn4156

The menu is a little confusing as far as the layout goes, but I can’t really tell you why. On the plus side, they mark everything for gluten free, spicy, and vegetarian so you can tell at a glance what is what. We got the Dravidian Dhal as an appetizer. I ordered the gluten-free Coconut Milk Curry and Sienna had the Quiche with Caesar Salad (which aren’t gluten-free.) Strangely, their child menu isn’t marked for gluten-free items—and really only appears to have one.

Here’s The Coconut Milk Curry.

Gluten Free Coconut Curry and Rice

Our server was friendly and awesome. She did a great job of talking to us about the gluten-free items and also had suggestions about favorites.

When it arrived, we both agreed that the Dhal was only OK. I think it needed some cardamom and salt. It also arrived luke-warm, which was disappointing. The Coconut Milk Curry was awesome and properly heated. Sienna was also very pleased with the quiche, but felt like the Caesar Salad needed some zing. The Dhal was much better the next day, so maybe they just need to let it stew longer.

They have one or two gluten free desserts. One is Sorbet (which is also vegan). The other on their menu is called Marronen and is described as “An Austrian-inspired blessing of chocolate + chestnuts covered in chocolate espresso whipped cream. Ice cream, or espresso shot?” We passed on the dessert because we had a prior plan to visit Pix Patisserie.

Some final things about Grandma Leeth’s:

  • When we arrive the place was freezing cold. When we complained, they adjusted the temperature immediately. That was really nice.
  • They have live jazz every Saturday. We visited on a Saturday and although we liked the band, we both thought the music was too loud. Maybe they feel like they have to compete with the kids?
  • Did I mention that they have wine and beer?

Overall, we felt like the experience was nice, and we can definitely see why people would enjoy bringing their kids to Grandma Leeth’s. The food was good too.

We want to know: Have you been to Grandma Leeth’s? Do you have any favorite items on their menu? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Grandma Leeth’s Restaurant
www.grandmaleeths.com
10122 SW Park Way, Portland, Oregon 97225 / 503.291.7800

Restaurant Review: The Whole Bowl

Food Cart Culture in Portland Oregon

As Sunset Magazine recently pointed out, Portland is becoming known for its fabulous food carts. I personally love the whole food cart experience. It’s the closest you can get to buying a cooked treat on a beach in Bali without leaving the state. It makes a person feel international or maybe a little lawless. I also think that at best a food cart has a certain sincerity that is missing at a restaurant. As far as that goes, I’m not really sure what can be more sincere than a bowl of rice and beans done up with a sauce and some trimmings. This is a great description of the Whole Bowl.

gluten-free-portland-oregon-dscn3404

The Whole Bowl is something of a one trick pony. They offer two sizes of bowl with brown rice, red and black beans, fresh avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and their secret Tali Sauce. When ordering, you tell the server what you don’t want. If you skip the cheese and sour cream, you’ve got a vegan dish. Except for the cookies, everything they serve is gluten free (yay!) There was some confusion about the cheese there, but the owner contacted us to verify that their cheese is gluten-free (hooray!) They also serve chips, water, and a couple of beverages.

There are four locations. One is downtown, one on SE Hawthorne, one in the Pearl, and one is the Mo-Bowl, which I guess travels around.

fish-tank-at-the-whole-bowl-dscn3402

How is the food? It’s great. I personally have a weakness for rice and beans, because they go so great together. The Tali sauce is really wonderful, and the ingredients always seem to be fresh and tasty. I’ve noticed especially that they have a better line on getting good avocados than we seem to have. The Whole Bowl is also amazingly consistent for a restaurant in Portland. There’s something strange about Portland Oregon that makes excellent restaurants have bad nights and makes horrible restaurants have good nights. (What is that? Does anybody have a theory?)

gluten free whole bowl

And here it is. This is the big bowl with the whole shebang. It ends up being very satisfying. The sauce is very tasty, and like I said before, it’s hard to lose with rice and beans. Did I mention that the big bowl is $5.50? This makes the Whole Bowl a good destination when you want to get something quick and cheap on a busy afternoon or dinner.

We want to know: Have you been to the Whole Bowl downtown? Do you have a favorite food cart in Portland Oregon? I keep trying to figure out something else that would go great with one of these bowls. Any ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: a lot (So we feel very good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Whole Bowl
Rice and beans bowl with sauce.
www.thewholebowl.com
Multiple locations / 503.757.2695

Portland Loses a Great Gluten-Free Dessert Item

We went to the Portland City Grill for lunch on Christmas and imagine my shock when the dessert menu came and I found that it was missing my favorite gluten-free dessert, the Flourless Chocolate Torte with Brittle. When I was done picking my heart up off the floor, I asked our server. She confirmed that it had recently been replaced with some kind of Oreo cake. Oreo cake?!?

If you’ve never been to the Portland City Grill, it really is an excellent restaurant. While their menu can’t exactly be called “gluten friendly” they can tell you what is in every dish, so you can find out what has gluten and what doesn’t. They also have some of the best sushi in town.

I hope they reconsider!

View out the window of the Portland City Grill