Tag Archives: dinner

Caruso’s

5 May

IMG_4201.jpgLast week, I joined friends that are like family at Caruso’s. This was my first time dining at the Miramar Hotel’s signature restaurant, but not my first time at the resort. My previous experiences at the The Manor Bar and the Miramar Beach Bar were disappointing due to dismal service. However, the newest hotel in the area is beautiful and worth checking out for the views alone. Caruso’s is situated right on the water. Even if it is chilly, I’d recommend sitting on the outside patio. They have ample heaters and it seems silly to be so close to the ocean yet choose to dine inside. While speaking with our waiter about my dietary needs and asking for recommendations, he wasn’t entirely helpful. He proclaimed that this was the best restaurant in Santa Barbara but it was tough to get guidance from him. I asked if they had gluten-free bread and was told that they did have some that would be safe for me. When it arrived, I had to ask for my own oil though as they hadn’t anticipated that I would need a separate one. When they served an amuse-bouche, the server wasn’t sure if it was gluten-free and had to double check (it was). I started with the Little Gem Caesar without the croutons.

IMG_4204.jpegI really liked the salad. It sort of reminded me of the now defunct Arlington Tavern’s caesar salad. For my main course, I had the Pan Roasted Channel Island Halibut.

IMG_4206.jpegI thought this was okay. It didn’t have much flavor. Overall, the setting of the restaurant was unbelievably beautiful. However, I felt that the food and service were not on par with Bella Vista at the Four Seasons. I had to ask for water five times which may sound silly, but for the “best restaurant in Santa Barbara”, it was a bit annoying.

Khao Kaeng

21 Apr

IMG_4079.jpegNow that it is starting to warm up, it is always nice to find a new restaurant to dine at that has an outdoor patio. A friend and I decided to try Khao Kaeng in Montecito which is located in the old Scoop location. I have enjoyed meals at their sister restaurant, Empty Bowls at the Public Market, so my expectations were high. After our waiter checked with the kitchen, I was able to confirm that the Larb Mushrooms and Pad Thai could be prepared safe for me. The mushrooms had a subtle heat to them which gave the dish a nice flavor.IMG_4082.jpegI ordered the Pad Thai with shrimp which was a pretty sizable portion. Even though the waiter checked with the chef to see what would be safe, I felt more comfortable eating at the noodle bar at the Public Market since everything was right in front of me. I think it was also because at the Public Market, I was able to speak with the owner directly whereas here, it was clear that the waiter wasn’t as knowledgeable about cross contamination until he spoke with the kitchen. 

Bossie’s Kitchen

16 Apr

IMG_4052.jpgI just had an incredibly satisfying lunch at Bossie’s Kitchen, or as my daughter refers to it, the restaurant with a cow on the roof. Prior to dining there, I had emailed the owners to see if they had anything on their menu that could be made gluten-free for a celiac. I was happy to receive word back that there were a variety of safe options:

We do have a gluten-heavy menu, and while not all items can be made gluten-free for celiac, here’s a few that we can do for you:
-Proteins: grilled salmon with dill yogurt or rotisserie chicken, without gravy
-Salads: kale & quinoa salad, ginger beet and citrus salad, caesar salad (we can make this to order for you, without breadcrumbs)
-Soup: generally vegetarian and gluten-free.
-Plates: you may combine either protein with any of the salads; roasted market vegetable plate may be served without the pita bread; grilled hamburger without the bun and french fries (there would be cross-contamination in the fryer with our fried chicken, that is dredged in flour)
-Nightly Specials: Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday nights we offer the best options for you that are gluten-free.  We can substitute quinoa for cous cous on Tuesday’s chicken tajine special, without pita bread; Saturday and Sunday nightly specials do not contain gluten: grilled pork belly with coconut rice; pot roast dinner.
I ended up ordering the grilled salmon with a side of their kale and quinoa salad. I also had a bowl of their split pea coconut curry soup.
IMG_4049.jpgThe salmon was perfectly cooked with a delicious crispy skin. It went really well with the salad’s roasted vegetables. The soup was unbelievably flavorful. They change up the soup every couple of months, so be sure to stop in before this bowl of yumminess goes away.

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.

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.

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.

Food Harmonics

19 Apr

IMG_6962.jpgI drove to Ojai this morning to have a much needed haircut since my hair stylist of 10 years is currently living there. This was my first time driving on 150 since the Thomas Fire, and I was amazed at the regrowth you can already see. It is a beautiful drive that is worth it just for the change in scenery. After my hair was done, I stopped at Food Harmonics in Ojai for lunch since the “Find Me GF” app showed me that it was an entirely gluten-free restaurant. The website describes the restaurant as offering food that is “real, organic, gluten-free, nutritionally dense and amazingly delicious”. I ordered a Dosa with goat cheese, butternut squash and tamari sautéed mushrooms. It came with a mixed greens and sauerkraut. I also had their Turmeric Matcha Latte. I enjoyed my uber healthy meal on their back patio where there was the perfect breeze. I am already planning a return trip to Ojai for the entire family in the near future.