Who doesn’t like to eat out at a nice restaurant? I freaking love it. Typically the ‘nicer’ the restaurant the higher the bill. And with that comes better ingredients and excellent treatments of those ingredients (not always of course). But I know not everyone shares the same appreciation of expensive food.
Awesome food prepared with expert precision is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you’ve never spent $100+ on a meal I highly suggest the experience.
Think of it like going to a Broadway show. If you are willing to spend $100 or more on a ticket for a 2 hour show than why not spend the same on a 2-3 hour meal? Bring friends and family and you will have a great time.
I think its mindset for most people. Most people have a mental block when it comes to spending money on food. It’s always too expensive..wah..wah…
People love to complain about gas and food prices. Maybe these annoying habits have been filtered down from the depression generations. Shrug.
They should look at a expensive meal as an adventure. A food adventure. Anywayz..moving on…
The Eating Out Gluten-Free Dilemma
I eat 100% gluten-free and eating out gluten-free can be difficult. When gluten slips into my diet now-a-days I get a runny nose, itchy eyes, and incredibly uncomfortable bloating. Basically, my immune system gets all fk’d up.
I wasn’t always like this. I grew up eating the SAD (standard American diet) and eating bread was a regular part of my routine. Because I have removed it from my diet my body now treats it like a dangerous foreign substance, and rightly so.
A few times in the past, after eating gluten and doing a CrossFit WOD the next day, I came down with a cold (was really pissed about it). It seems that combination of stress is too much for my body to take.
The point here is I love great food and eating at restaurants, but I have to be VERY careful about what I order. And if you are Paleo or Gluten-free you share this same DILEMMA
When eating out I spend a lot of time asking the server questions, some of which have to be relayed to the kitchen. Friends and family often feel embarrassed so much so that they feel the need to make a funny-defusing comment such as, “he’s always this difficult” or “sorry he’s neurotic.”
This is the mindset most people have regarding food. To care what I’m about to put in my body and to have questions about it is asinine apparently. Whatever..
I’m kicking off a new series here titled Eating Out Gluten-Free: Paleo Food Adventures.
Each post will consist of a restaurant review, up-close IPhone photography, a short synopsis of the meal, and tips/tricks for eating gluten-free at the food establishment. The meals I cover are going to be mostly-Paleo as dairy will be included most of the time (so basically Primal).
I hope this series will be fun and informative. I think it will help you eat better when dining out as well as provide recommendations of where to eat-out gluten-free. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a foot writer/critic (Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies). So here’s to living my dream…
“Eating Out Gluten-Free”
Paleo Food Adventures by Colin Stuckert
Restaurant: Red, The Steakhouse
Yelp Review: Red
Yelp Rating: 4 stars
Yelp Price meter: $$$$
Back Story: WODAPALOOZA was going on last weekend and 7 of my athletes were competing. I wasn’t able to make it last year so I wanted to come out and show support as well as check out a large CrossFit event. Wow… Try to make it out sometime, very impressive.
I drove to Miami Sunday to catch the end of the final day and had a reservation for red at 8pm that night. After driving around South Beach for 35 minutes to find a parking spot I finally found a spot right in front of the restaurant (irony).
We arrive at the restaurant and are seated immediately. I’ve never seen much of a wait here (3 times).
Because I still remember the tomato/burrata special I had 4 years ago it is the first thing I look for on the menu. Yup they have it as the special..YUSS!
Course 1#: Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Local Burrata and Basil with Balsamic Reduction and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is a standard salad on many higher-end restaurants and if you are somewhere that has local tomatoes in season I highly recommend trying this. The thick, meaty beefsteak tomatoes can be heavenly when just right.
Burrata is made from mozzarella and cream. The inside has has a creamy-mozzarella filling while the outside is made of standard solid mozzarella that serves as a shell. If you love mozzarella like I do, than burrata will blow your mind! Many people have no clue what it is. You can find it at Wholefoods.
Course 2#: French Onion Soup Grantinee – Caramelized Onions, Rich Veal Broth, Toasted Bread and Gruyere
Be careful with soups as there are many ingredients that go into them and sometimes the server and even the kitchen doesn’t know if something is gluten-free or not. This soup was fine, and usually French onion soup is OK as long as bread or croutons are left out of the presentation.
Ask very specifically if the soup has flour or bread in it. The server will have to ask the kitchen and sometimes you might have to read their report as to how sure the kitchen seems of the answer.
So how was it? One of the best French onion soups I’ve ever had. The key here is the veal broth…
I saw an article headline the other day about chef’s secret ingredient to flavor. Yup, it was Veal stock. Funny I read that the other day and enjoyed one of the best French onion soups I’ve ever had a couple days after.
Main Course: Guest: Kansas City bone-in 18oz strip – King Crab “Merus” 1.5# or 3# with Butter – Side 1: Creamed corn – Side 2: Parmesan “Tater Tots” – Side 3: Sweet potato mash with 2 inches of flambéed marshmallow topping
You simply can’t go wrong with naked seafood like crab. If you don’t like crab or lobster I suggest you start practicing…
Crab has a sweet, slightly ocean’y taste. It’s hard to explain, you just have to try it. Crab is probably the easiest-to-eat proteins in the animal kingdom. Meaning I could eat 5 pounds of it before feeling full. Compare that to the feeling after ten ounces of chicken breasts. It goes down so damn smooth…
Steak is a standard food for most of us Paleo-eating homo sapiens. The Wagyu was $199 and that is a tad out of my budget right now. I’ll save my big $ meals for Vegas this year. This was the Kansas City strip with the bone-in. The steak was above-average but nothing worldly. The interior flavor of the steak was what you expect from a steak, texture was very good, and crust was awesome.
The $89 Wagyu skirt steak at Craftsteak at the MGM is the best steak I’ve ever had (thrice). Later this year I will be posting a full post/review of Craft and I can’t freaking wait.
This is an example of where I suggest you proceed with caution if you need to be 100% gluten-free. Ordering items like this always seem to jack up my stomach and as a result lead me to believe that gluten had found it’s way in. These are deep-fried in a fryer that is used repeatedly for many dishes and it is likely that this caused some cross-contamination. This is standard in restaurants; there is never a gluten-free fryer.
I specifically told our server that our entire meal was to be gluten-free so when I asked about these, and what they were rolled in (Parmesan), I was assuming he was still thinking about the gluten-free aspect of our meal. The problem is that the servers often forget, overlook, or don’t realize that a dish like this may have a small amount of flour in it to help develop a solid crust.
In retrospect I think these had flour in them. The first one seemed amazing, the second average, and the third not my favorite. We left 2 on the plate and when I’m eating that is not a good sign.
If you are 100% gluten-free, avoid ordering ‘questionable’ items like these, and avoid the deep-fryer altogether if possible. If you eat mostly-Paleo, and aren’t as sensitive to gluten, then you will be fine ordering items like this. Gauge how you feel afterwards and look for signs of feeling like mega-crap. If you feel like crap afterwards that is a possible sign that you need to be stricter with your gluten consumption.
Gluten-Free Rating on the GF Meter: 7 of 10
Recommendation to the rest of the world: 8 of 10
Final bill: $300 with $50 tip included
Recommended dishes: Burrata/Mozzarella, French onion soup, Creamed Corn, King Crab, Sweet Potato, Strip or Ribeye, Wagyu if you can afford it (amazing)
Worth skipping: Tomahawk steak (I really didn’t like it but could have been a fluke), dessert ($15 each, the key lime pie might be worth trying just skip the crumble/crust), greens sides (no point)
$ saving Tips: Share an appetizer, stick with their USDA prime steaks, avoid dessert
Overall I recommend Red as a great way to celebrate a special occasion or just life in general. Prepare on $100 per person on average and maybe $75 if you budget your order.
Everyone should enjoy a nice dinner from time to time, it is a good investment in your life experience. Food is one of the true pleasures of life and you are missing out if you don’t indulge every so often.
More Paleo adventures coming soon..