Prime Time

Of the many thoughts that ran through my head after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, one involved the potential trials of eating out. While I can't always be certain of food-prep practices, I can ask if, and hope that they follow safe practices when making gluten-free dishes. Choosing reliable, trusted, and respected places is key, as is asking questions - which isn't something I'm used to yet, and usually my loyal protector, Luke, takes the reins here.

I haven't started eating out less, and I've learned a lot about appropriate questions and preparation. It is a bonus, however, when a restaurant already caters to someone like me. Sometimes there will simply be a note at the bottom of the menu stating to communicate your needs to your server. And ideally, there will be a key indicating which dishes are already gluten-free. Some menu selections can also be made gluten-free just by replacing a bun, crostini, fries, etc. with something else. Simplistic creativity at its best! 

Luckily, there is no shortage of great food purveyors in my neck of the woods. Fairfield County, Connecticut is endowed with access to the freshest ingredients, top-notch chefs, and knowledgeable and well-trained staff (a key component to the vulnerable food-intolerant guest). 

Washington Prime in South Norwalk (SoNo as it's fondly called) is one such gem. A new-American venue taking pride in steak, there are consequently GF options available (at least if you're a beef-lover like me). They have a pretty substantial selection of gluten-free items, all clearly indicated by a nice red "GF" next to each, from apps to sides to main courses and desserts. This past weekend I was treated to a few of their tastiest GF offerings, and there was not one I wouldn't recommend.

We began with a few Small Plates: Octopus, Short Rib, Deviled Eggs, and Tuna Crudo. Octopus was a new dish for me and it didn't disappoint. I'm not squeamish about most eclectic foods, however, and the beautifully and tastefully Americanized presentation inspired nothing but a desire to try it. Plus, they prepare it with duck fat. Win.

Octopus with duckfat potatoes and pickled peppers...say that five times fast.

Octopus with duckfat potatoes and pickled peppers...say that five times fast.

Devilishly delish eggs.

Devilishly delish eggs.

Tuna Crudo with hints of truffle, garlic, and jalapeño.

Tuna Crudo with hints of truffle, garlic, and jalapeño.

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The 16 Oz. NY Strip that followed treated me to a cut of beef like I've never had. It was perfectly charred to a nice pink-red medium-rare hue, accompanied by the Brussels Sprouts (with bacon!) and decadent Triple-Baked Potato. That's right, triple-baked - twice-baked is amateur hour at Prime. They don't scrimp on details or flavor, and whenever I'm there I discover a combination of ingredients I haven't tasted before. (And speaking of tasting, the after dinner cocktail testing I was treated to already has me looking forward to their summer drink menu...)

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My favorite dessert ever, this brulée was the crème de la crème.

My favorite dessert ever, this brulée was the crème de la crème.

The atmosphere has this modern, rustic, slightly urban garden feel; the outside is brought in even more when they open all the doors along its L-shaped corner-front during the summer. Faux boxwood covers the walls around the bar, and filament pendant lights pop through the ivy draped loosely around the beams. With great service, delicious flavors, and creative dishes, it's no wonder they've won awards for Best New Restaurant in Connecticut Magazine and Best of the Gold Coast. Verdict: go!

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{And here's a wild idea: how about a category for the best/most/tastiest GF options? The CD-inflicted excluded, isn't that kind of where we're heading these days? I'll admit it: I was part of that half of the population that thought the gluten-free diet was a fad... I guess the joke's on me.}