Certainly, selection of gluten free foods is getting better and better. While the offering of frozen prepared meals still seems to lean heavily on ethnic recipes, some of the products are quite successful. Recently, I have purchased several gluten free “feel good foods” packages, and I am particularly happy with the dumplings – otherwise known as potstickers. These are available in chicken, pork or vegetable versions. I have tried both the chicken and the vegetable and would happily buy them again. They taste like you expect potstickers to taste. No disappointment.
The microwave preparation is quite easy – just pour a half-cup of water into a microwave-safe container, add the dumplings, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 4-5 minutes. The result is really excellent.
My only criticism of this company’s offerings is that there isn’t a broader selection. If they do such a good job with potstickers, I wish there were more options. As it is, they also offer egg rolls, empanadas, taquitos, and Asian meals.
Try them, you’ll like them.
Many ethnic restaurants regularly serve items that are gluten free, but I haven’t encountered many that take advantage of the opportunity to market this feature.
Chinese restaurants and Thai restaurants that prepare meals with rice noodles, rather than wheat noodles, have several options. Chen Chinese Cuisine in Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills, offers several dishes that are naturally gluten free, including Moo Goo Gai Pan and Pad Thai, and you can also order egg foo yung gluten free. We had a wonderful meal at Yu’s Mandarin, but their extensive menu doesn’t emphasize their many gluten free dishes.
Japanese restaurants also have a number of dishes that are gluten free, but are more likely to feature the gluten free options. See the Kids and Gluten Free menu for Pl8 in Barrington.
And the Middle Eastern restaurants, the Indian restaurants, and others. To my mind, they are missing a terrific marketing opportunity. Maybe there is a trade group that could take the initiative to publicize this.
Over the week-end, we went for brunch with some out-of-town company. Kingsbury Street Cafe was our choice. It came with good reviews, a convenient location, parking (for a fee) and a great menu that included a decent number of gluten-free choices. (Unfortunately, the gluten-free and vegetarian selections do not show up on the website view of the menu.) Also important is the fact that they take reservations – a feature offered by very few brunch restaurants.
Everyone was very happy with their choices and the service was excellent.. Members of our party ordered a quiche, hamburger, eggs Benedict, Kingsbury Cafe breakfast, and I had a custom omelet with potatoes and gluten free bread. The gluten free bread is an extra charge, and it is very dense, but seemed a very healthy offering.
However, the noise level was very high. It was difficult to carry on a conversation at the table, although possible, if you made an effort. Certainly, the waiter had to move around the table to take the orders. It seems that the current thinking in the restaurant trade is that a noisy place is a successful place. Perhaps noise equates to liveliness or fun. But when it gets so difficult to carry on a conversation, I think they have carried things too far. Do they expect their guests to have to text each other? When the addition of acoustic tiles, or some other sound absorption is possible, but not utilized, one has to think the noise level is intentional.
If you are looking for a good brunch, especially if you need to assure a reservation time, I recommend the food and service at Kingsbury Street Cafe, but come prepared for the noise level.