Restaurants

The “New” Watershed Restaurant

Posted in Atlanta, local food, Restaurants on June 6th, 2012 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last weekend, David and I went on a date night to the new Watershed Restaurant.  For those of you that don’t know about the first Watershed, this Atlanta favorite was located in Decatur and owned by Indigo Girls’, Emily Saliers.  The restaurant was well known for its fancy southern fare and famous chef, Scott Peacock.  Sadly, last year Watershed in Decatur closed, but there were promises that it would reopen in the future at a new location.

A couple of weeks ago, this promise became a reality and the new Watershed (still owned by Saliers) opened on Peachtree Road, between Uncle Julio’s and Mellow Mushroom.  While both the décor and the clientele offer a different ambiance (think Buckhead prepster verses Decatur hipster), the restaurant still makes delicious food and celebrates southern cuisine.

I get a little nervous about going to a “southern” restaurant due to my fear that everything will be battered and deep fried.  Last week their menu still wasn’t up online (now you can find it on their website), so I called and they assured me that I would be able to find gluten-free options at the new Watershed.  We decided to give the revamped Watershed a try and we were not disappointed.

Once we arrived and valet parked (of course it’s valet, we’re in Atlanta), we were immediately seated.  The bar was bumping with a well dressed stereotypical Buckhead crowd and the room with the bar was extremely loud.  There are three rooms at Watershed and I would suggest asking to be in the room farthest from the bar if you want to converse with your date.  Fortunately, we were put in the far room and while there was still good people watching, I wasn’t completely distracted by everyone else’s conversation.

Yummy, pimento cheese cornbread

The menu immediately looked intriguing and I felt reassured about my options the minute that I saw a gluten-free beer on the drinks list.  I spoke with our server and he went through some of my options with me.  I was particularly impressed when he told me that the pimento cheese cornbread, which comes with the veggie plate, is gluten-free.  I had him double check with the chef multiple times since usually cornbread is not GF at restaurants.  He assured me that it was in fact GF after talking to the chef.  Even though I didn’t order the veggie plate, they let me enjoy the cornbread as a side.  David and I shared this snack and it was one of the best items I’ve ever had at a restaurant, being that it combined two of my favorite things: cornbread and pimento cheese.  The texture was perfect and the flavor combination was so yummy.  The cornbread was not dry at all and the perfect balance of salty and sweet.

Beautifully cooked salmon

I decided to go a little healthier for my entrée, selecting the salmon a la plancha with zucchini ribbons.  As I look at the menu online today, however, it says this dish comes with faro.  It did not include faro on the menu last week so I’m guessing their menu changes.  Always make sure to double check with your server or the manager.  I’m sure they would be willing to take out the faro…they were extremely accommodating to me.  My salmon was perfectly cooked and crispy on the outside.  There were no batters or fancy sauces and the cold zucchini ribbons offered the perfect texture and flavor compliments.  David enjoyed the deconstructed jambalaya for his entree, which was not gluten free, but he loved it and would recommend it to any gluten eaters.

Overall, we had a great experience at the new Watershed.  The ambiance is quite different than the original in Decatur now that it’s located in an apartment building in the middle of Peachtree Road, but the quality of food will not disappoint.  We had great service and I felt that my food needs were well accommodated.

Have any of you tried the new Watershed?  What are your initial thoughts?  Any other new restaurants in town worth checking out?

Watershed Restaurant – 1820 Peachtree Road NW – Atlanta, GA – 30309 – 404.809.3561 (Reservations Recommended)

Miami Spring Break 2K12 & Ola Restaurant

Posted in favorite things, meals, Restaurants, travel on March 20th, 2012 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Bienvenido a Miami: The view from our hotel room

David and I spent a restful five days in Miami during early March. We stayed at the brand new St. Regis hotel in Bal Harbor, enjoying his accumulation of hotel points in the past year.  We had the best time, relaxing, reading, and eating.  Always my perfect trip.  The folks at the St. Regis of course accommodated my GF diet and even had GF bread in one of their restaurants that they toasted for me for breakfast.  (Unfortunately I didn’t learn about this until the last day.)  One of my favorite meals was the quinoa salad at the pool restaurant.  I ordered it with chicken in order to get some extra protein.

One night, David and I went to a Miami Heat game to see LeBron and Dwayne Wade in action.  And of course, Duke alum, Shane Battier.  We wanted to explore dining options closer to the arena so the concierge recommended Ola Restaurant.  We called ahead to make reservations and they said that they could accommodate a gluten-free diner.  Well, let me just say that this was an understatement.  Ola had many delicious options for me and I didn’t feel restricted at all.

This Latin American cuisine restaurant, located in the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach, is run by the internationally acclaimed Latin chef, Douglas Rodriguez.  The restaurant is cozy and we received amazing service.  Our waiter knew immediately what gluten was and he was well informed about what items on the menu are gluten free.  Regardless of what you order, you should inquire about whether any items in the dish are fried because they do only use one fryer for both gluten and gluten-free items.

Pan de bono=delicious

The meal started off with some of the most amazing bread I’ve ever eaten.  It is called pan de bono and it is made with tapioca flour, sugar, eggs, and cheese.  There might be some other ingredients but no gluten, at least not at Ola.  It was incredible!  The texture and the flavor were like nothing I’ve ever eaten before.  I couldn’t stop at just one piece.

My salmon entree

For my main course, I ordered the popular Panella Salmon, which is cured and seared, and is served with creamy quinoa, broken black olive vinaigrette, and jicama salad.  The salmon has a nice sweetness to it that goes surprisingly well with the quinoa and black olives.  The flavor combination was pretty amazing.  I also couldn’t resist a side of the mashed plantains with bits of bacon.  So good!  David’s dish, Puerca Asado (braised pork), was also gluten free as long as you ask them to not serve it with the piece of fried pork.  This slow cooked pork, served with steam yucca, was also packed with flavor, and tasted so different from my order.  (David’s beer braised short rib empanadas, sadly, were not GF.)

Overall, we had a great gluten-free experience at Ola and had some of the best service I’ve ever received at a restaurant.  I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to splurge on a Latin-inspired dinner while vacationing in Miami.  It is truly worth the price.  Enjoy!

And of course, the Heat game was great too..they wooped Chris Humphries and the NJ Nets.

 

 

 

Figo Pasta Introduces Gluten-Free Meatball

Posted in Atlanta, GF product, local food, Restaurants, Uncategorized on November 9th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Figo is one of my favorite casual Atlanta spots and I think they have one of the best GF pastas around!  Their gluten-free fusili pasta can be mixed with any of their sauces for a delicious gluten-free meal.

Last week, Figo added a new item to their gluten-free menu: the gluten-free meatball!  Made with rice flour and rice, instead of bread, Figo’s Gluten-Free Maria Meatball also includes a yummy mix of ground beef sirloin, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, parmesan cheese and an herb & spice blend.

If you don’t feel like pasta, think about trying one or two of their meatballs with a salad to add protein to your meal.

The new GF Maria meatball will be offered at all seven of Figo’s locations so check their website for the restaurant closest to you.  You might have already gotten a sneak peak of the meatball at the Atlanta Gluten-Free Vendor Fair a few weeks back.

 

Two Things I Love…

Posted in Atlanta, local food, Restaurants on November 1st, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment



Urban Pl8 & ScoutmobClick here to get your Scoutmob for Urban Pl8.  This is one of my favorite spots on the Westside and their menu is almost entirely gluten free.  Make sure to tell your server that you’re gluten free so they know to make you the GF version of the dish.

Most recently, I went for brunch and got an amazing egg scramble, with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and GF toast!  Awesome.  Please support this local business that works hard to make delicious gluten-free food.  And paleo friendly too!

Some of my favorites on the menu:

  • Kale chips (don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try them!)
  • Grilled harissa chicken tangine (ask them for some toasted GF bread to dip in the amazing sauce!)
  • Paleo coconut shrimp

Yum!  I also love their mixed green salad with chicken and a side of sweet potatoes.  Sounds simple but they make it so good.

Family Fun in ATL & Leon’s Full Service

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals, Restaurants, Uncategorized on October 10th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Last week, my brother and his family came to ATL for a visit.  We had the best time showing off our city to Rob, Alden, and my two nephews, Pete and Chip.  Of course we shared many of our favorite restaurants with them too!

Time in the backyard with Rob, Pete and Chip

Some of the highlights of the weekend included, homemade pancakes, Taqueria del Sol, Mellow Mushroom, Star Provisions, YEAH Burger, the Georgia Aquarium, and lots of playing outside.

Chip waiting for lunch at Taqueria

Chip with his new football

 

Sweet Pete!

On Saturday night, my sweet friend, Michelle, offered to baby sit for Pete and Chip so we adults decided to have a night on the town.  We took Rob and Alden to Decatur to see a different part of the Atlanta area.  After a drink at Iberian Pig, we headed over to one of our new favorite restaurants, Leon’s Full Service.

Night out in Decatur

In the last couple of months, David and I’ve been looking for any excuse to go to Leon’s.  We absolutely love their French Fries and dipping sauces that accompany them.  Fortunately you can order multiple sauces because David and I can’t agree on which one we like the best.  (I’m a sucker for the curry and David loves the smoked tomato mayo.)  Leon’s uses a dedicated fryer for their fries so you don’t have to worry about contamination.  Since we’ve discovered Leon’s, we’ve always gotten great service and delicious food.  Don’t be discouraged by the bustle and busy-ness of the restaurant when you walk in: you will be well taken care of from the moment you put your name on the wait list. (PS: Leon’s doesn’t take reservations.)

Best fries in ATL

...And the dipping sauces (yes, we ordered 6!)

Our waiters have always been well aware of the gluten-free options on the menu and I always feel like I have lots of choices.  Even though the restaurant is always full of people, I get great attention from servers and I don’t feel rushed to make my decision. On our most recent visit, however, we learned that the folks at Leon’s have now made a gluten-free menu for their customers.  Now I have even more reason to go to Leon’s!  It’s a good thing we don’t live closer to Leon’s because I would eat there all time!

Leon's GF Menu!

If you haven’t been yet, you must go to Leon’s.  The menu has both casual/light fare as well as fancier entrees.  And they highlight seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farms.  Gotta love that!

Gluten-Free Highlights on Leon’s Menu*:

  • French fries with masaman curry & smoked tomato mayo
  • Grilled pork chop, field peas & greens, carolina gold bbq, red cabbage chow chow
  • Pan roasted domestic snapper baby bok choi, masaman curry butternut squash, lime-mint butter, toasted cashew

Always so sad when the fries are gone

Oh, and make sure to hang out at the bar before you get seated.  The mixologists at the bar are fabulous and they create all kinds of seasonal beverages.

*The menu changes seasonally so expect to find new items when you go (except, of course, the fries).

Leon’s Full Service – 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave – Decatur, Georgia – 404.687.0500

 

Italian Dining in Decatur: No. 246

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on September 21st, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Last night David and I had a date night at No. 246 in Decatur.  This new, Italian-inspired restaurant is owned by the same folks that own the Westside’s JCT Kitchen.  I love the décor inside No. 246, but similar to its sister restaurant, No. 246 is quite loud inside.  (Translation: I won’t be taking my parents here the next time they’re in town.)  The service was great at No. 246, as we felt like we got really good attention from our server.  She was very communicative with us and answered all of our questions.

Normally I wouldn’t be eager to spend date night at an Italian restaurant but No. 246 is now offering gluten-free pasta.  This corn based spaghetti can be served with any of their pasta options that are naturally gluten free.  I enjoyed their Trofie pasta, which is a Bolognese style sauce with chicken liver, pork and beef.  And parmesan!  Yummy!  (Don’t be intimidated by the chicken liver.  There’s nothing to be scared of, I promise!)

Another reason why I love No. 246 is that you can order a “half portion” (which is still quite generous) for about half the price.  I also ordered their arugula salad with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette and shaved parmesan cheese.  The arugula had a nice bite to it but it wasn’t dominating, as arugula sometimes can be.  Other GF options at No. 246 are some of their “Plates” and other salads and soups.

No. 246 is named after the original plot of land where the restaurant sits. (Of course all I can think of is the line from Les Mis, "No, 2-4-6-0-1!"

I highly recommend No. 246 to gluten eaters and gluten freers.  It’s quite a hot spot right now for Atlantans and they don’t take reservations so plan on enjoying a drink at the bar if you go on a weekend night.  We dined at No. 246 on a Tuesday night and didn’t have any wait at all.

Enjoy!  Have any of you been yet?  Let’s support this local spot that’s making efforts to accommodate gluten-free diners!

PS: Their pizzas looked a-mazing!  Maybe someday they’ll be gluten free too…

No. 246

129 E Ponce de Leon Ave
Decatur, GA 30030

Gluten Freedom’s Top 5 Casual Dining

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants, Uncategorized on September 15th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

While I’m always up for a fancy dinner, there are times where you want to preserve your wallet and just don’t feel like getting dressed up.  Earlier in the summer, I gave you my Top 5 Atlanta splurge restaurants.  So I thought I’d share with you my favorite casual spots around town.

MetroFresh: A devoted subscriber to their daily menu, I love learning what’s going on in MetroFresh world.  MetroFresh labels all of their dishes that are gluten-free, dairy free, etc. making it easy to navigate and I can know exactly what’s available for me.  MetroFresh now also serves GF muffins each week that are delicious.  Try their new location in the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  At this location they don’t list the specific GF items but you can ask someone working there and they will help you out.

A GF muffin at MetroFresh

Soup & squash salad at MetroFresh

Taqueria del Sol: While you want to avoid the chips at Taqueria (as they’re fried in the same fryer with breaded items), there are still many options for you.  In fact, you can even order corn tortillas to dip in guac and salsa so you don’t have to totally miss out.  I love their Memphis taco and their veggie taco (with corn tacos, of course).  Yummy, but just prepare to wait in line for a little while.

Tacos at Taqueria

Yeah Burger: One of my “go to” weeknight dinner places when meeting a friend or having a laid back date night, I’ll go here forever, as long as they have the “gluten-free 50-50.”  (Yes, that’s right: a glorious basket filled half with onion rings and half with French fries.)  Recently, YEAH has changed their GF bun from Pure Knead to Rudi’s.  I’m not thrilled about this switcheroo and might go bunless now but I still consider YEAH a favorite because of the fries and onion rings.  Oh, and the YEAH sauce is a-mazing for dipping.

Fuego Mundo: I don’t get to Fuego as much as I’d like, but I heart their black bean quinoa and plantains.  So yummy.  Basically their entire menu is GF so you don’t have to worry at all about contamination.

Bhojanic: Thanks to Mary Stuart, David and I have finally found an Indian place in Atlanta that we love.  Reasonably priced, these dishes have quite a kick and there are many gluten-free options.  The staff is very knowledgeable about their GF items.

What are your favorite places in ATL for a laid back dinner?

Farm Burger Buckhead Officially Opens!

Posted in event, local food, Restaurants on September 2nd, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Farm Burger Buckhead officially opens its doors today, Friday, September 2nd.

Here’s what the Farm Burger folks had to say:

Yes that’s right, as of Friday, September 2nd, we are OPEN IN BUCKHEAD! Come on down and taste our 100% local grassfed burgers and farm fixins for lunch or dinner.

OUR HOURS ARE…
Sunday – Thursday   11.30am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday    11.30am – 11pm

3365 Piedmont at Peachtree in TowerWalk…and free parking in the lot next door to us!

Did you know we run our own farms in Athens? Check out Full Moon Farms and Moonshine Meats, our vegetable and animal operations.

We’re thrilled to round up our herd from Decatur and stampede over to Buckhead…same menu, same beef, same seasonal goodness from local and sustainable farms available everyday!

Hello Buckhead…we can’t wait to get to know you better.

Dining Highlights in Laguna Beach

Posted in Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on August 26th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

We wined and dined on vacation and I’ve got to admit, I loved taking advantage of the opportunity to splurge. Our trip to Laguna was such a fun celebration of our marriage (we had our 7th wedding anniversary this summer!!!!), and a rare opportunity to spend time together, free from work, computers, house projects, and distractions.  Aah…so nice.

As I mentioned earlier, we hopped in a cab to Laguna Beach to access a few more dining options with a lower price…

Nirvana Grille: Located in downtown Laguna, Nirvana has both indoor and upstairs patio seating.  David and I both loved our meals here and more importantly, they have a very clearly marked gluten-free menu, which states what gluten-free diners can enjoy, and specifically lists what modifications need to be made.

David and I shared the artichoke, spinach and parmesan stuffed poblano (with bread on the side, for David).  It was so delicious we devoured it before I could even think to take a photo.  I’ve given you the pitiful remnants below.

The remnants of our stuffed pepper

For my entrée, I chose the Coconut Curry Tofu and loved it.  After a lot of heavy eating, the curry tofu was a different and lighter option and yummy!  Nirvana also has plenty of vegan and vegetarian options as well and the entire menu has lots of variety so all diners have plenty of choice.  Also, a great wine selection!  Definitely a must visit if you’re in Laguna.

Nirvana Grille's Tofu Curry

 

Another dinner spot that we checked out was Coyote Grill, located between the St. Regis and downtown Laguna (only about a $10 cab ride from the hotel).  There’s nothing fancy about Coyote but it’s ocean front location is not to be missed.  While they don’t have a gluten-free menu, I had read online before our trip that Coyote had lots of GF options and is familiar with the gluten-free diet.  I ordered the chicken fajitas with corn tortillas which came with tons of veggies, black beans, guac, and all of the delicious additions I love.  The meal was huge and David and I definitely could have split it, but he went with the ribs at the suggestion of the waiter.  Coyote is also known for their brunch but we didn’t make it back to check it out for ourselves.

BJ’s Restaurant: This casual, family-friendly restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway in downtown Laguna, makes gluten-free pizzas!  I’m always eager to sample a new variety of GF pizza and there’s was delicious.  Their thin crust pizza has a hint of sweetness to it, with rosemary baked into the crust.  All of their toppings, except their meatballs are GF.  I ordered a pizza with sausage and artichokes and loved it.  Half was plenty for me so I took the leftovers back to the hotel for lunch the next day.

BJ’s also has a gluten-free/allergen menu so all dietary needs can be taken into consideration when dining here.  If you’re not in the mood for pizza, try one of their salads or giant stuffed potatoes.  BJ’s also sells GF ciders and Redbridge beer, a perfect addition to a pizza dinner!

BJ’s doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to wait a little while for a table as it has a pretty small dining area.  You can call 30 minutes ahead, to get your name on the list.  BJ’s is a great choice if you’re looking for a more casual, laid back dinner in Laguna.  While I was sad not to be able to enjoy the glutenous deep dish pizza, my GF pizza was pretty darn good.

Ok, I’m finally done boring you with the details of our California trip.  Maybe I’ve inspired you to take a trip vacation of your own.

Hotel Dining in Laguna

Posted in meals, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on August 24th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

While we relaxed at the pool and lazed the day away in Laguna, the biggest decision of our day was where to eat.  Ah, that’s the life!

Before I get started on where we ate, I thought I’d share some  food related discoveries from the week of luxury:

  • Mojitoes: So refreshing, why not have a tasty adult beverage in the afternoon?
  • Champagne: I think I had one too many bad glasses of champagne in college and early adulthood…I’ve discovered it can actually be pretty good and a lovely way to start the evening.
  • Seafood: It’s more than just shrimp and crab cakes!  I continue to fall in love with fish.  I avoided fish most of my life (besides salmon) but now I can’t get enough of it.  So many varieties to try and almost always a good GF option at restaurants.
  • Hotel food is expensive, especially when ordered by the pool…a $5 Coke!!!!!  You’ve got to be kidding me.
  • As much as I love cooking, I really enjoyed a week without turning on the oven or washing a dish.  It was awesome.

Now to the dining…

Happy Anniversary, Friend!

David enjoying our Motif dinner (and champagne)

During our stay we dined at the St. Regis’ two restaurants, Stone Hill Tavern and Motif. While Stone Hill is the more well known of the two restaurants, we liked our experiences at both.  In comparing our gluten-free experience at the two venues, though,  we got the best attention at Motif.  They brought gluten-free bread to the table to enjoy with their homemade hummus and butter, which is always a huge plus.  Our server was one of the best waiters I’ve ever had, bringing us tastes of wine, and giving his honest opinion on what to order.  Everything was delicious and the servings were plentiful.

A fun (GF) anniversary dessert at Motif

While Motif felt a bit more laid back, Stone Hill Tavern was definitely a trendy, happening, spot.  There was quite a bustle and I felt like we paid the price a little bit since there was so much going on.  Our waiter was nice and willing to communicate with the chef but it felt like the chef didn’t really care much about my needs.  Fortunately, our waiter guided us to make the right decisions.  I understand that restaurants get busy and don’t have time to bend over backwards, but I just didn’t feel as comfortable with my meal here.  That being said, I devoured my delicious tomato salad and the short rib was out of this world.  So, I still had a very nice dining experience at Stone Hill, but don’t know if I would pay that price for that restaurant a second time.

Stonehill Restaurant at the St. Regis, Dana Point

Neither of these restaurants felt like “hotel food.” David and I did notice, however, that when staying at high end hotels and resorts (this was really my first experience at one), it’s difficult to find a simple dinner.  When evening rolls around, the only burger to be found involves Kobe beef and blue cheese crumbles.  So we ventured to downtown Laguna to enjoy a lighter meal, with a lighter price tag.  Stay tuned for those recommendations!

Our favorite view!

Also, Only a short walk from the St. Regis, we loved the bar at the Ritz, 180blu. It had our favorite view and the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten.  Yes, I’m serious.  Perfectly crispy and a great GF bar food.  This was also our best venue for sunsets and people watching…

Enjoying 180blu at the Ritz

Ritz sweet potato fries...definitely got these twice!

Sunset over the Pacific