Tag Archives: gluten free restaurants

Great Sunday Brunch, but What’s with the Noise

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.

A memorable evening

Recently, friends recommended we try da Baffone Cucina Italiana in Crystal Lake for dinner together.  This turned out to be an excellent choice.  Their careful attention was evident when they returned my call for reservations, suggesting that I change my 6:30 request to 6:00, so we would have ample time to enjoy our meal before the 8:00 seating.

They have a great menu, whether you are gluten free or not.  I had one of the specials, a risotto with salmon, shrimp and scallops.  Not only was it a delicious meal, the portion was very generous.  The other diners at our table had eggplant parmigiana, chicken piccata, and gnocchi with meat sauce.  Our waiter explained that many dishes can be prepared gluten free, besides the gluten free pasta and other non-gluten choices. Everyone praised their meal, and the prices are quite reasonable.

Desserts included a gelato flight (don’t miss the lemon ice gelato), and creme brûlée.  In honor of my husband’s birthday, the restaurant treated him to a serving of tiramisu, plus limoncello all around!  This generous gesture added a great deal to our appreciation of the restaurant.

You couldn’t ask for more from a waiter.  Knowledgeable, considerate, and attentive without hovering – he had obviously had very good training.

If you’ve ever been frustrated in a noisy restaurant because you couldn’t carry on a conversation with your dinner companions, da Baffone is an example of the way you’d like things to be.  This small, intimate restaurant creates a sophisticated but relaxed, quiet  atmosphere.

On rare occasions, a meal in a restaurant can become a memorable event.  Our experience at da Baffone was one of those special times.

It’s worth a trip to 111 North Main Street in Crystal Lake,  815-893-6149.

Bits and Pieces

There seems to be a general improvement in the quality of gluten-free bread products being offered at restaurants lately.  When I first started following a gluten-free diet, the sandwiches I’d get at restaurants were quite disappointing.  The bread or bun didn’t hold together well at all.

More recently, I’ve had much more satisfactory experiences.  The hamburgers at several restaurants have been served on buns that hold together very well.  A few weeks ago, we had dinner at Max and Benny’s in Northbrook.  They don’t have an extensive gluten-free menu, but they do provide sandwiches on gluten-free bread, chicken soup with gluten-free noodles, and a selection of other menu items.  I had the corned beef sandwichIMG_0682 – I had ordered one on a previous visit – and I found the quality of the bread much improved this time.   I was able to really enjoy eating the sandwich.

In general, there is a much-improved availability of gluten-free products – in grocery stores, restaurants, and online. Not only are there more options, but the quality of the products seems to be improving.  I do still wonder why broad noodles are missing from most sources.

Besides the bloggers I follow, I have subscribed to the King Arthur website, and my inbox frequently provides me with tempting recipes.

Watch this blog for my upcoming comments on the gluten-free offerings in our grocery stores.