Tag Archives: new york

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Bleecker Kitchen & Co, New York

Bleeker-Starter

Bleecker Kitchen & Co is all about modern American cooking. The menu is seasonally-inspired, it’s unpretentious and welcoming, and there are both large and small plates all reasonably priced. The interior is perfectly aligned with the food – the industrial-style steel fixtures and exposed brick walls combine with wooden tabletops and warm lighting. And, based on the corner of Bleecker and Broadway, right in the centre of Greenwich Village – and with floor to ceiling windows – it’s a great place to watch the world of NoHo walk by.

The food is comforting and full of great flavour combinations. And the ingredients are excellent. But be careful – they’re not great at gluten-free. The menu tells you that although every effort will be made to accommodate food allergies, they’re afraid that they cannot always guarantee meeting your needs. I was told I could have the Whole Grain Salad – Baby Greens, Chickpeas, Mushrooms, Cured Tomatoes, Fregola, Red Bell Peppers, Green Beans, Cipollini Onion, Olives and Lemon Vinaigrette. When I queried whether fregola was gluten-free, they assured me that it was. But it’s not. It’s a type of pasta from Sardinia. And it’s made from durum wheat. What they are brilliant at, though, is customer service. Once I clarified the fregola thing with them, they were more than happy to make a version of the salad without it. And when it came (with smiles and genuine friendliness), it was delicious.

Bleeker-Main

My main dish was gorgeous. Creekstone Farms Flatiron 8oz – with Charred Scallion, Roasted Mushroom and Chimichurri. The steak was beautifully cooked. Hearty, meaty and tender and the chimichurri was all that you want it to be – spicy, tangy and zesty. I ate mouthful after mouthful loving the flavour load. I’ll remember that dish for a long while…

Bleecker Kitchen & Co is based at 643 Broadway NYC 10012

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Caracas Arepa Bar, Williamsburg, New York

Caracas-Arepa-Bar

Caracas-Arepa

My friend Elinor told me I had to go here when I visited New York. And this was one of the best recommendations. Tucked behind the main streets in Williamsburg, Caracas Arepa Bar is a great experience. It’s hip, but not too hip – and the food is truly delicious.

The Brooklyn restaurant follows on from the the first Caracas Arepa, which opened in East Village in 2003 (and a new one has just opened in Rockaway). Its name showcases the arepa, which is a Venezuelan corn muffin/bun. These are gluten-free and usually crisp on the outside and soft in the middle because they’re baked and grilled. They can be plain or filled – and can be a snack or a main meal, or even a breakfast.

La-Surena

There are 12 variations of the Arepa on the main menu – and usually Brunch Arepas with Perico (Venezuelan-style scrambled eggs) and a Special, too. Most of them have wonderful-sounding fillings such as the La de Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder, Tomato Slices and Spicy Mango Sauce), or the Playa Deluxe (Pan-Seared Tilapia with Garlic-Infused Oil, Sautéed Mushrooms, Avocado Slices, Pickled Onions and Homemade Herb Mayo). I chose the La Sureña (Grilled Chicken, Hearty Chorizo with Avocado Slices and the Classic and Always Enigmatic Spicy Chimi-Churri Sauce). It was completely delicious. Chicken, chorizo and avocado are classic pairings – and always good – and these worked really well within the corn casing and with the fantastic spicy sauce.

Ceviche-de-Camaron

One arepa is not enough. Truly. Even if you’re already full, they taste too good to not try something else. So I did… The Ceviche de Camarón proved irresistible. Shrimp Ceviche with Purple Onions, Green Mango, Red Peppers, Jalapeño, Cilantro and Lime, with Plantain Chips. As they say – summer in a glass. The soft, marinated shrimp with the crunchy onions and pepper were spicy and delicious – and the lime was beautifully balanced. On top of this were fantastic sweet/salty plantain chips.

The staff are assured and knowledgeable about gluten-free/dairy-free. And there’s a great choice of dishes for free-from customers. It usually takes a while to get a table. When I went, during the day, there were a whole load of empty tables, but I was still made to wait for 20 minutes until I was taken to a table. And the evenings get very, very busy, apparently – with loooong queues. But, like many places where you have to wait, it’s definitely worth it.

Caracas Arepa Williamsburg is at 291 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

The Empire

Empire-View

Empire-View-2

Recently, I went to New York. I stayed at The Empire Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in Manhattan. The staff are lovely and the whole place feels great. Walk into the reception/bar, and you’ll find a slick modern space with soft lighting and lounge music that becomes a hip hang-out at the weekends (going on until very late). There’s a roof terrace bar (with a DJ) on the 12th floor that is opened up to the public – and becomes packed on the weekends. And the floor above is a guests-only sun deck with a bar and a plunge pool. The views of the city are utterly mesmerising…

Empire-Starter

There is, of course, room service. There are no specific gluten-free or dairy-free options, though – unless you bring your own bread in for them to toast. But the hotel is so central, only steps from a myriad of restaurants, and from an amazing Wholefoods, so it wasn’t a problem.

I went one evening to the restaurant below, Ed’s Chowder House. The interior is a disparate combination of sleek glass, mirrors and white leather seats, but with photographs of fishing scenes. The menu, too, seemed to be trying to mix urban sleek with rustic seashore. You can order a Shaved Vegetable Salad with Citrus Verjus Vinaigrette or a Scallop Ravioli, for example. All very smart. But then there’s also bone fide seaside Smoked Chatham Cod Cakes, Lobster Roll with House Slaw or the eponymous New England Style Clam Chowder.

Empire-Fish-&-Chips

But never mind. The one thing you can usually be sure about, in a modern fish restaurant, is that they can give you a gluten-free and dairy-free meal. It’s called fish and chips*.

* as long as they can do you uncontaminated grilled fish and they don’t add flour to the chips.

We had the Dinner Prix Fixe Menu. I loved the Salmon Tartare with Cucumber & Horseradish Crème. Soft, melting flavours with the fresh, light tartare and creaminess without dairy. But the Skuna Bay Salmon with Grilled Eggplant (Aubergine), Squash & Salmon Roe wasn’t nearly as good as it sounds. I had chips on the side and they weren’t great. And the flavours of the aubergine, roe and squash were nice, but didn’t blow me away or make the dish special. The salmon was well cooked but just that.

We went to the rooftop bar for a drink afterwards, and sipped our drink, looking out at the view. That was really, really good!

The Empire Hotel is at 44 West 63rd Street, New York, NY 10023