Gluten Free dinner at 49 Social, Downtown Crossing

One thing about being a 20-something year old young professional is we can’t justify paying $24-$36 on an entrée, plus drinks and appetizers would be about $60 before tip. And this is just not possible on my or my friend’s budgets. (On special occasion it’s ok.) So when I stumbled upon a groupon deal for $59 for a two-course meal for two, including one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert (57% off!!), I couldn’t resist buying it. (There is also a $109 deal for 4) I called my friend Alex right away and of course she said yes without hesitation. She is also a foodie, you should check her blog, it’s awesome!

The front of the restaurant features a bar and lounge area; a great place to meet up with friends or coworkers after work for a drink or two. The back of the restaurant features a more formal, and very small, dining room. There are tow other floors, one also has a bar, but I did not see those so I will not pretend to know anything about the space.

The food is described as “New American cuisine”, which upon further researching (Wikipedia counts as “researching” right?), is a term for upscale, contemporary cooking, giving new twists to old-time and traditional dishes. Yup, that sounds exactly right.

I called ahead to inform the restaurant I had a gluten intolerance and they assured me it was no problem. Many of the menu items are gluten free or can be modified to be gluten free (ex. Substituting mashed potatoes or garlic spinach for the couscous).

The food was stellar. We started with the 4 Spice Tuna, seared rare tuna, Asian Quick Pickle and a Spicy Ponzu sauce (minus the tempura crisps). It was delicious, you must order this.For our entrées we both could not decide between the scallops or lamb, so what better to do than order both (since we could due to the groupon : ) I had the  Braised Lamb Shank served with herb roasted potatoes. The meat was so tender and moist, and fell right off the bone. It was a bit fatty, to be expected, but the portion size was incredible so even cutting away the fat left plenty to enjoy.

Alex ordered the Seared Scallop special with roasted tomatoes and bacon served over couscous. It only came with 3 scallops, which surprised me; I was expecting at least 4 to consider it a meal. Anyways, I tried a bite and it was fantastic, the flavors were just incredible. If I ever go again, if someone else wants to take me, I’d order the scallops.

According to our waiter, none of the dessert items were gluten free. (Really? Crème Brulee isn’t gluten free?). He did offer us ice cream and assured us the chef would whip us up something special. So instead of pressing on the issue, we were pretty full anyways, we accepted his offer. We were each given two generous sized scoops of the best vanilla bean ice cream I’ve ever head and raspberry ice cream topped with a vanilla bean whipped cream and heaps of berries.

Over all it was a great meal, service was ok, he did his job, answered our questions, and attended to us, you know, like he should. Nothing spectacular, but nothing to complain about either.

I wasn’t blown away by anything. I would go back with friends and sit at the bar or lounge area for a drink, if I was in the area. But would I make a special trip there or go back for another meal? Most likely not.

I do want to thank the chef for working with me, and the waiter for making it easy, not like some of those servers you can clearly tell find a gluten intolerance – and probably other allergies – a nuisance.

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I've been on a gluten free diet since January 2009. It's been an adventure, and a challenge at times. I love to go to new restaurants and try new foods, and being gluten free can make eating out difficult at times. But I will not let my dietary restrictions get in my way of finding new restaurants and products. These are my stories of being a young women in a big city, eating out and trying new foods, all while NOT eating gluten. Like I said, it's an adventure and you are welcome to come along... Please note that as I try to eat gluten free 100% of the time, my intolerance is not as severe as others so please use caution when dining at restaurants that are not certified gluten free.

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