This week I was invited to attend a Gluten Free Dinner at Joe’s American Bar & Grille with Amanda from Marlo Marketing/Communications and Amanda Humphrey of Gluten Free Hub. I had such a great time with these two ladies, chatting about food, restaurants and just about everything else we like about Boston.
Joe’s menu is about 85% Gluten Free. Almost everything on the menu can be gluten free by making simple adjustments to the dish. Burgers and sandwiches can be served on gluten free rolls, pasta dishes are served with gluten free penne, the ahi tuna served without soy sauce, and so on.
The manager, Tiffany, and chef put together a nice appetizer spread for us, they wanted us to sample their most popular gluten free appetizers, and we did not argue. Frist we had the Seared Ahi Tuna, served sashimi style and pepper-crusted with a side of wasabi and fresh ginger. The ginger-soy dressing was left off, as we all know soy sauce is a gluten free nightmare. The tuna was delightful! Lightly cooked on the outside and completely raw on the inside, just the way I like it, with much pizzazz from the pepper crust.
Next we had the nachos. I love nachos and it’s pretty hard to mess those up. I couldn’t get over the size of these nachos! Loaded with jack and chedder cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, jalapeños, salsa, sour cream and a big spoonful of guacamole, it wasn’t anything special but they were delicious.
The Black Skillet Roasted Mussels were served smoking hot in the skillet. These were excellent, lightly salted, juicy and very fresh, not to mention a generous portion size. I highly recommend starting off your meal with these, especially if you go with a group or wanting something to share.
The most popular gluten free dish at Joe’s is their pizza, and I can see why. It’s not every day you find a restaurant that offers gluten free pizza on a delicious crust (that doesn’t taste like cardboard). The pizza crust comes frozen and is baked in the same container it comes packaged in, thus never touching another surface.
The gluten free pizza crust and burger rolls come from Buckwheat’s Gluten Free Bakery in Nashua, NH. Buckwheat’s also makes sandwich bread and baguettes. I always find it funny when a restaurant serves gluten free “dinner rolls” that are the same rolls used for sandwiches. This happens all the time and it makes me laugh.
We also tried the Chicken Club Sandwich, served on a gluten free roll with a side of “fries”, or what they should really be called, potatoes. I liked the potatoes, but it was more a crispy fried baked potato than an actual French fry. The sandwich was huge and, unlike many gluten free breads that are very crumbly, this bread held together pretty well. If a restaurant can do a simple dish well, then you know that they have taken the time and effort to learn how to cook and prepare gluten free meals. When the basic dishes are good, it’s a good indicator that the other gluten free dishes are going to be great too.
The third dish we sampled was the The Marinara Pasta with gluten free penne and shrimp. Unfortunately the meatballs are not gluten free, I was looking forward to that, but if you want marinara sauce you can sub the meatballs with shrimp, chicken, veal or vegetables. All sauces are made in house and are gluten free.
When I asked about the pasta, Tiffany (the manager) couldn’t remember exactly what it was made of (rice, corn, ect.) so she went to the kitchen and brought out a bag for us to see. Not only did she let us look at the ingredients, she gave me the bag of penne to take home! I really like the brand this brand, bionaturae. The gluten free penne is organic and is made of rice, corn and soy, so if you also have a soy allergy be sure to let them know and stay away from the pasta.
Joe’s offers Red Bridge gluten free beer (I really wish restaurants would start carry gluten free beers other than Red Bridge), and vodka.
There is a separate fryer in the back, away from the regular fryer, used only for gluten free items. They also use separate cutting boards, knives and utensils to limit cross contamination. All kitchen staff and front of house managers are required to go through allergen certification training. Managers and chefs are both involved when there is an allergy present at the table and go to extreme measures ensuring gluten free and allergy safety in their restaurant.
Although serves are not given formal allergy training, many, including ours, are knowledgeable about the menu and allergen process due to the high volume of customers with allergies that they cater to daily. So whether its gluten, dairy or soy, they can accommodate for your allergy.
Location:181 Newbury St. Boston. For other locations, click here.