Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Gluten-Free Holiday Party

I belong and am on the board of a  women's business group called the Azalea Coast Executive Network. Usually we meet once a month at Bluewater Grill. The menus are set and we have a choice of three items to order from. Although Bluewater does not have a gluten-free menu, the events coordinator was more than happy to sit down with me put together a few gluten-free options for the gluten-free gals in the group and boy are they tasty. (I hope to put together an entire gf menu for them but so far they don't seem too interested.)

For our holiday party, however, we wanted to do something new and special. The Vice President of the group was thoughtful in her planning and chose Carrabba's, a restaurant with a gluten-free menu. Now, I've never been a huge fan of Carrabba's, mostly because they're gluten-free options require ordering everything without seasoning, grill bastes, pastas and dressings (they do have gf dressings, but most are not dairy free). I find that ordering things sans gluten is not quite as exciting as ordering a regular dish that has been made gf with a brown rice pasta or gf marinade, but alas I did not complain. It didn't help that the last time I was there, the staff had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for a gluten-free menu. It also didn't help that when I'd finally decided on a very bland looking entree and a gluten-free beer they didn't have either available. Seriously?  But back to the night of the party......

I ordered the grilled salmon (no grill baste) with the sauteed spinach. It.....was....amazing. The fish was grilled to perfection, not something you can usually say when dining out at a chain restaurant. And the service was superior. Both of my young (and easy on the eyes) waiters were well informed and educated on all things gluten (and dairy) free, one even apologized to me when he brought bread to offer the table (my table mates declined, how sweet). Another thing I liked about the gluten-free menu there was their inclusion of cocktails and desserts. I had a white sangria that was both delicious and potent.

So what are we to learn from all of this? Always give people, places and restaurants a second chance....and the waiters at Carrabba's are adorable.

Until we eat again....

Eat at Carrabba's, Drink at Carrabba's and Be Gluten-Free

Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon