July 11, 2010


Local Restaurant Offers Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Food

I had a birthday last week (don’t ask which one).  We went out to dinner at a restaurant we had not been to before and had a very good and interesting experience.  I learned from my celiac support group that this restaurant now offered a gluten free and gluten free/casein free menu.  I had to give it a try.

The thing that made it interesting is that the GF/GFCF menu is completely separate from their regular menu.  It is not a list of items from their menu that can be prepared gluten free.  It is a list of already prepared, ready to be reheated food that a local woman with celiac disease comes in and prepares at the restaurant a couple of times a week.  Maureen is the owner of One Dish Cuisine and she cooks when no one else is cooking at the restaurant, making sure there is no cross contamination.  The food is then packaged and later reheated in the packaging to avoid any contamination when served. 

The menu included items such as lasagna, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, crab cakes and chicken nuggets.  I ordered lasagna.  There is both a GF and GFCF option for lasagna.  I have not gone back to being completely dairy free since my challenge a couple of weeks ago, so I went ahead and got the lasagna with the real cheese.  It was served with a mini loaf of soft bread.  I didn’t take a picture, but I was also served a dish of fresh squash and carrots which the restaurant prepared. (Maureen had given the kitchen staff instructions on how to do that without contamination.)

The lasagna was served in the packaging with a lid on it and placed on a plate.  A small spatula was provided for removing the lasagna myself.  I didn’t care for this particular way of serving the meal, though I completely understand that it is for the purpose of avoiding cross contamination.  I would rather a restaurant be overly careful than careless, but if the plate is uncontaminated, I think the staff should be able to remove the lasagna safely. 

Irish Channel lasagna
My other issue with packaging was the bread.  It was wonderful to go to a restaurant and be served good bread that I could eat with my meal!  However, the bread was wrapped in plastic wrap and both were warm so I assume it was heated in the plastic.  I prefer not to heat my food in plastic wrap, but the thing that really bothered me was that I had difficulty getting the plastic off.  It was stuck to itself and stretchy from being warm.  I wanted to try the bread, not battle with the plastic.

This is a new idea for both Irish Channel and One Dish Cuisine and they are still working it out.  The packaging issues I have are not something that would keep me from going back.  I’m more concerned with safety and good food, both of which were abundant.

I realize this is a local restaurant and most of my readers will never visit it, but if you live in Maryland you might want to check it out.  I think the idea behind this type of gluten-free menu is one that might catch on.  What do you think?


Wow. I'm really impressed.

The packaging issue would bother me too (besides the fact that i try not to eat microwaved food). But overall, it sounds like a good first step. They're trying! :)

Happy BD (late).
Oh wow, cool! Any idea if their DC location does the same? I'm in DC, but it would almost be worth a trip to check it out.

At this time they only offer GF items in Crofton. It's been less than two weeks since they started and like I said, they are working out the kinks. If all goes well, maybe they will offer it at their DC location.
That's a really interesting idea. I never would have thought of having someone else cook the meals separately and have them ready to reheat. Definitely takes the stress out of the cross-contamination problem. An interesting business idea for any gluten free cooks out there too...
Thanks, Linda. I live in Mount Vernon and would be willing to take the trip to Crofton for this! Love your blog. kt
That is an interesting idea but I agree with you on the presentation, it kind of takes away some of the pleasure/mystique of eating out with a beautiful plate of prepared food. On the other hand, it is nice to feel like you can enjoy a safe meal. Overall, a step in the right direction! :0)
Dean's Steakhouse in Front Royal, Va. is now offering Sunday Brunches starting November 7th. From 11am-2pm you can enjoy reasonably priced GFCF brunch menu options. They do not use plastics;only parchment paper, no aluminum or stainless steel; only cast iron, no microwaves, glass containers only and mason jars. No dairy, no wheat or oats, no gluten, no soy but still delicious!

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