Monday, June 9, 2008

My Restaurant Tour of New York City

My boyfriend, Michael, and I spent the Memorial Day weekend in New York City for my birthday. What a beautiful time to spend in New York, the weather was amazing. We took a bike ride through Central Park, saw some comedy, did a lot of walking, a little shopping and ate some delicious food. I was happy to find more restaurants with a gluten free menu than the last time I was there. I lived in New York for 8 months last year and found places like Slice and Risotteria. This time I found even more. Thank you to all those people blogging about restaurants with gluten free menus, that is where I found most of these places.

The first place we tried was
S'MAC (short for Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese) in the East Village. I had been looking forward to trying this place since I first heard about it a year ago. Back then I had no idea they did GF, or perhaps they didn't until recently. It is close to the Peanut Butter and Jelly restaurant, which has a complete menu of PB&J themed foods. Only in New York! I ordered the "4 Cheese" nosh with GF pasta, GF breadcrumbs on top and added broccoli. Michael got the "Cheeseburger" nosh with regular pasta. They come to your table sizzling in your own personal cast iron pan. They both were delicious. I thought mine had way too much cheese on it and I left a pool of melted cheese in my cast iron pan when I was done, but Michael's was perfect.

The next place we tried to eat at was Good Enough To Eat on Amsterdam and 83rd. I had found many raving reviews of their breakfast online and figured I had to check it out. The line was ridiculous when we got there. Instead of waiting, we went across the street to Fred's whose motto is "Come! Sit! Stay!" What a fantastic find this was. We got a great table on the sidewalk in a little shade. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros and my boyfriend had the Eggs Benedict made with roasted pork instead of ham. His looked delicious from my view and the hollandaise was wonderful. I thought my breakfast was delicious, full of protein and all gluten free. Fred's is on Amsterdam at 83rd, and I think it was the best meal we had the entire trip. We tried to go back the next morning and were sadly disappointed to find they are only open for breakfasts on the weekends. So we did end up going to Good Enough To Eat that day, and I have to say, it was not as good as Fred's.

Another restaurant I read about was Sambuca, on 72nd right by Central Park. They have Southern Italian food and a separate gluten free menu. We happened to be close by when we were hungry and decided to stop in. The ambience was lovely, slightly dark and romantic. The waiters seemed knowledgeable about special dietary needs which always makes me feel better about eating out. I was given my own warm bread roll while we waited for our dinner. The roll was just ok, a little hard, but just to be given something while my fellow diners are eating their bread before the meal comes was enough to be delighted. We shared a family style plate of GF pasta with traditional marinara and a side of sauteed broccoli with garlic. Michael also ordered a plate of meatballs which he said were very good as well as being huge. The best part of our meal may have been the GF brownie for dessert. We were so full that we took it to go and ate it in the hotel later that night. It was very moist and rich, probably full of butter, and I was unable to finish it, even over a couple days. The only down side to this restaurant was that it was a bit expensive. Our meal was very simple and the bill was over $100. That did include a couple glasses of wine, but still, this is not a cheap restaurant.

No trip is complete without an ice cream sundae at
Pure Food and Wine. They serve a completely raw menu which means everything is "live" and full of beneficial enzymes. I did an internship there last year and always try to go back for a meal when I am in New York. I have been in their kitchens and there is no dairy or wheat used in anything as they are not raw. All of the water in the building is filtered. The Chefs are innovative and love what they do which transfers into the food. Most of their desserts are made with coconut meat which gives their ice cream a rich creamy texture. I highly recommend the ice cream sundae and the Caesar Salad. A great place for vegetarians and those with dairy and wheat allergies.

For non food fun ...... we saw a great comedy show at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village. It is less expensive than other comedy venues because there is no headliner. Most comedians go there to practice and work out new routines. We saw Jim Norton, Louis CK, Colin Quinn and a couple others. Did a bike tour of Central Park operated by Bite of the Apple Tours. The tour went for 2 hours and the guides were knowledgeable. We also took a sunset cruise by New York Water Taxi. The cruise was fun, views were great, but I am not sure I will ever go do it again. You have to board the water taxi at the South Street Seaport which I had never been to until this trip. It looks a lot like Pier 39 in San Francisco and is full of tourists. The dinner we had was awful and I wish we had eaten before we got down there. If you don't mind crowds, then check it out.

For our last meal of the trip we went to brgr, which is the best burger joint in the city in my opinion. The beef and turkey used for the burgers are free from steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics. They also use high quality milk for their milkshakes that has no hormones, antibiotics or additives. They used to have a sign on the wall stating that their meat was from Montana and the pickles were made by a local group. That sign was gone, so I am not sure if their practices have changed. Brgr has traditional toppings like tomato, lettuce and mustard but also more fun ones like herb mayonnaise, avocado, brie and applewood smoked bacon. I stopped by Whole Foods before going and bought some GF hamburger buns. I explained to the cashier at brgr that I couldn't eat wheat and asked if I could have my burger on the bun I brought. She said no problem and they accommodated me. The bun wasn't that great, but it was so nice to eat my lunch like everyone else instead of with a fork.

I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but New York just might have my stomach.


Jules said...

Reading this actually made me excited to be GF. I cant wait to go to NY and try some of the places out. Thanks for sharing.

Kristin said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for blogging about this! My husband and I are going to NYC for our 5th anniversary, and I've been nervous about finding good GF restaurants for our special weekend. You took all of the work out of my research!

Andrea said...

You are so welcome Kristin! This was a few years ago and there are definitely more restaurants featuring gluten free foods. Hope you have a great trip!