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Bettina

11 Dec

IMG_2460.jpgI had heard that new restaurant, Bettina, has amazing pizzas so we decided to try it out since it mentioned gluten-free options on their online menu. The restaurant itself was very appealing. My kids loved it because it is located at the Montecito Country Mart where they have a fire truck, carousel and horse that will move for a couple of quarters. The bad news is that the GF pizza is not celiac safe. They use the same oven surface as their regular pizzas. The good news is that they have a fantastic shrimp dish on the menu which is GF. The sauce was so buttery and flavorful that I found myself trying to get every last drop of it. I was a bit surprised that the non-GF “gluten-free” crust had an upcharge of $5 on the menu. I could understand it if they had to take special steps to avoid cross contamination, but as that wasn’t the issue, it seemed high to me.

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Mizza

4 Dec

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Ever since the restaurant Pizza Mizza closed, I had been meaning to try Mizza. I always liked Pizza Mizza’s gluten-free crust which was made with cup-4-cup flour and cooked on a clean surface. However, when my husband and I tried Mizza today, we found out that the GF pizza option they have is cooked on the same surface as the regular pizzas. After speaking with the manager, he confirmed that the new Mizza Pizza delivery service (are all of these names confusing you yet?) is made in a different kitchen than Mizza and they are able to cook the GF pizzas on a clean surface. Hooray! If you want to eat at Mizza, there are still some gluten-free options for you. I had the chopped salad while my husband had the arugula and roasted potato salad.IMG_2429 2.jpg

I also ordered the pan seared halibut for my son and to bring home as leftovers. It was served with heirloom tomatoes, roasted potatoes, carrots and broccolini.

IMG_2431 2.jpgAlthough I was bummed to not have gluten-free pizza for lunch, I was glad to have some safe GF options to choose from. I do love that the restaurant is in La Arcada as the courtyard is particularly magical this time of year with the holiday decorations.

Bibi Ji

23 Sep

IMG_0862.jpgLast night, my husband and I decided to try a new restaurant before heading to the Santa Barbara Bowl to see The National. We ended up at Bibi Ji, the creative Indian restaurant that opened earlier this year. Now, we LOVE Indian food. We have a weekly tradition of getting takeout from Flavor of India. But this isn’t your run of the mill Indian restaurant. The presentation and flavors of the food definitely exceeded our expectations. We sat outside on their back patio since it was a perfect Santa Barbara night. When speaking with our server, he knew what Celiac Disease was, and gave me guidance on what I could and could not have. We started with the Paneer Tikka Sliders. These “sliders” were more of a fork and knife dish. They had a surprising heat to them which was much appreciated since we love spicy food. All of the curries are gluten-free, so we decided to order two of those along with a side of basmati rice. We got the butter chicken which our waiter had mentioned was their top seller. We also ordered the coconut curry with vegetables.

IMG_0868.jpgAlthough I enjoyed the butter chicken and the tikka masala sauce it came in, I preferred the coconut curry flavor. I had some papadum on the side so that I could scoop up all of the extra sauce. IMG_0863.jpgBecause they are very clear on the menu about being unable to accommodate sesame allergies, we won’t have this restaurant in our usual rotation as my daughter is severely allergic to sesame and nuts. However, it will definitely be a top pick for date nights.

Smithy

23 Aug

IMG_0081.jpgLast week, we went out to dinner with some good friends. We decided to try Smithy as we hadn’t been there since it had transitioned from Somerset. I just love their outdoor patio. It feels like such a beautiful, serene nook of Santa Barbara. You easily forget that you are steps from State Street. I started things off with a bang when I ordered their “Ortega Undead II: The Resurrection” to drink. It was a yummy, spicy tequila concoction. I was pleased that our waiter was aware of which dishes were not gluten-free due to cross contamination (our table shared the brussels sprouts and the crispy papas which were not GF).  I started with the Grilled Corn. It was served with zucchini, swiss chard, green harissa and queso fresco. Although the dish was simple, the ingredients were so fresh that I found myself wanting to order another one of these. For my main dish, I was tempted by the fact that they had homemade gluten-free pasta available. However, I went with the scallops. IMG_0097.jpgThese were served with an english pea risotto, asparagus and sugar snaps. Once again, the combination of fresh ingredients and a great execution made me incredibly satisfied with my choice. We skipped dessert, but I was almost enticed by their GF chocolate cake that was being served that evening. To be honest, I didn’t find a huge difference between Somerset and Smithy. Regardless, we will definitely be returning both for the food and the ambiance.

Nook

13 Aug

IMG_9934.jpgI had my mind set on trying a new restaurant today for lunch, which led us to Nook located at the Waterline in the Funk Zone. I had checked the menu out ahead of time and was planning on ordering the blackened rock fish tacos. However, the lady behind the counter informed me that the rock fish hadn’t been delivered yet. She suggested the special halibut tostada instead. After going through the cross contamination conversation with her, I learned that they have a gluten-free fryer that is used for the tostada. Additionally, the fries are gluten-free as they are made in the GF fryer. Typically the halibut would be made on a grill that has non-GF items, but she had the kitchen make it for me in a pan. The tostada was served with a chili lime slaw, black bean relish, avocado salsa and pico de gallo and was topped with some queso.

IMG_9935.jpgThe fries were prepared with white truffle butter, pesto and parmesan cheese. The side patio was the perfect place to enjoy the food while people and dog watching. This is understandably a popular spot on the weekends as it is steps from all of the watering holes that the Funk Zone offers, including two spots within the Waterline.

Locavore Kitchen

2 Aug

IMG_9471.jpgI miss Arlington Tavern. Even though they closed 3 years ago, I always get nostalgic when driving past their location. They were always so gluten-free friendly without being a “gluten-free restaurant”. When I found out that a restaurant named Locavore Kitchen would be opening at the same spot, I got excited since at first glance, the menu seemed to be similar. However, upon dining there, I realized that the only thing these two restaurants shared was an address. Our waiter, who in his defense informed us that it was his second day, meant well. Yet when he informed us that the owner had told them that they don’t serve anything gluten-free during their training, I became inquisitive as there were things on the menu that seemed naturally gluten-free without the need for a GF substitution. After speaking with a waitress who was helping our waiter, I felt comfortable enough to order. She knew what celiac was and was able to confirm ingredients and lack of cross contamination with me. It also helped that we were there at 5:00pm with only one other table filled so I knew the kitchen wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I ended up ordering the caesar salad with no croutons and the short ribs (this menu item has since changed on the online menu).

IMG_9472.jpgThe food was fine. Most importantly, I didn’t get sick. That being said, after speaking to another person, it seems that our waiter was correct in that the owner has trained his staff to tell GF people that nothing there is gluten-free. I totally understand that there is no way to guarantee something will be gluten-free unless the kitchen is entirely GF. I am putting myself at risk when I choose to dine out. But I find that attitude unprofitable for a business, especially when there are multiple items on the menu that are naturally gluten-free or that can be easily adapted with the omission of an item like croutons.

Metropulos

23 May

IMG_7597.jpgOne of the first spots in the Funk Zone when it was more funk than trendy was Metropulos. I had always heard they had great sandwiches, but I had just assumed that they didn’t cater to gluten-free folk like myself. I gave them a call this week to ask if they had GF options and was surprised to find out that they make their own GF bread. The lady I spoke with (who I believe was the owner) explained that for celiacs, they won’t warm it up in the contaminated toaster. After inquiring, she also let me know that their aiois were in squirt bottles rather than a spread to minimize more opportunities for cross contamination. I hustled over so that I could try one of these much-talked about sandwiches. I ordered “This Little Piggy” which had ham, bacon, grilled onions, mixed greens, tomatoes, melted cheddar and chipotle aioli. I added avocado to it. This little piggy devoured every crumb of the sandwich.While exploring the grocery area, I also stumbled on some items that I had to buy. First, I found truffle potato chips. IMG_7589.jpgI love the taste of truffles, so these potato chips were a big hit. They also had some fantastic looking gluten-free pastas that I couldn’t resist buying.

IMG_7590.jpgLook at these beauties! If you’ve been to Italy, you know that their attention to making great GF products is second to none.  I’ve never been so excited to make pasta!

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