Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me! - Mellow Mushroom & Mary's Gluten Free Goods

So, my birthday was two weeks ago.  How old did I turn?  29 again, of course.  Don't you know better than to ask a lady her age?  Just kidding.

Anyway, I am lucky to have a really close group of friends.  We have named ourself the Tuesday Nigh Movie Crew.  They have been very supportive of me through my Celiac Diagnosis and completely understand when I say I can/cannot eat certain things.  I also have to be nice to them because they know where I buried all the bodies!

So for my birthday one of them picked up GF pizza from Mellow Mushroom.  They got only GF pies so I wouldn't have to worry about cross contamination.  Does it get much more thoughtful than that?  Not for me.  The pizza was pretty good.  It was a middle crust - not thin like most GF pizzas, and not deep dish like real pizza.  They carried ham and pineapple, which is my favorite.  Actually, I mis-typed it in an e-mail once as "him and pineapple," so you can image the jokes that sprung from that mistake.

I also have an awesome co-worker named Claire.  She ordered GF cupcakes for me from Mary's Gluten Free Goods bakery.  If you haven't had any of Mary's GF baked goods, check out the link here.  Claire got carrot cake (my favorite) and vanilla cupcakes for me.  The whole office ate them even though they were GF and we all decided you can't really tell the difference. 

Several restaurants in town serve Mary's rolls, bread, desserts, etc.  Ones I know for sure carry her stuff include Cafe Eclectic, Fuel Cafe, Tsunami, Ciao Bella, and Cortona.  She also comes to the Downtown Farmer's Market.

All in all, it was a really nice birthday.  Stay tuned for future info on Outback Steakhouse, Huey's, Cipotle, and The Rendezvous.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Guys - Midtown

The Five Guys in Midtown finally opened.  Yay!  Hubby and I went there for a date night a couple of weeks ago.  Here's a couple of things to keep in mind about visiting Five Guys:

The parking at the new Midtown restaurant is scarce.  The building was built on a very small lot and there is very limited parking.  We ended up parking on the street behind the restaurant.  This should ease up once the city builds the Overton Square parking garage behind the restaurant.

If you have a peanut allergy, you really shouldn't go there.  And if you're Celiac, you might want to avoid the peanuts too.  One of the charming things about Five Guys is that they have big boxes of peanuts that you can help yourself to.  It's a nice thing for people who are super hungry.  But not so good if you have a peanut allergy.  Personally I avoid the peanuts because I worry about cross contamination.  They are in the shell, but to me it's not worth the risk.

You get a whole lot of food.  The burgers are double patties, unless you order the little version.  And a small order of fries is more than enough for two people to share.  All the toppings are free and there are 15 to choose from.  Be forewarned if you ask for a burger with everything, you will get just about everything!

For us gluten free folks, they make the burger on a "lettuce" bun.  It comes wrapped in foil, so it's not too messy to eat if you keep it in the foil.  The fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer, so they are safe to eat.  They are good, but very greasy and are cooked in peanut oil, yet another reason for folks with peanut allergies to avoid Five Guys.  They do understand cross-contamination and the staff is really good about changing their gloves.  Plus the kitchen area is open to the rest of the restaurant, so you can actually watch them making your burger and be sure that the food is safe. 

So, in short, Five Guys is pretty good for Celiacs and Gluten Intolerants, but not so good if you have a peanut allergy.  You can check out their menu here.


I am sure that many in Memphis mourned when Zinnie's East closed a while back.  Frida's, a new Frida Kahlo themed Mexican restaurant has sprung up in its place.  For those who equate Mexican food with cheap, just a heads up that while Frida's is not super expensive, it is not as cheap as any of the restaurants in town with "El" in the name.

If you have kids, be sure to make a stop at the sign/fountain at the entrance.  They'll love it.  Actually I enjoy watching the fountain too.  And if the weather is nice, grab a table on large covered patio.

Now, I have to make a confession.  When I go to Frida's, I only order one thing - the tamales.  I absolutely adore tamales.  And when one of the waiters told me they were just as good as the ones his grandmother makes back in Mexico, I was hooked.  The tamales come with a sauce that can be either mildly hot or super hot, depending on the day you order. 

Their refried beans are really great too.  They are super yummy.  I don't really know what else Frida's serves that is gluten free.  They probably have other options but I keep getting stuck on the tamales.  If you go there, let me know what you ordered, so I can help out those people who do not like tamales.
I do know that their tortilla chips are not GF because of a shared fryer, so don't snack on them.  I try to remind myself of all the calories I'm saving by not eating the chips with salsa or queso. Sometimes it satisfies me, other times I just grab some Tostitos and salsa and do the same damage at home :)

Pei Wei

Since we're on the topic of Chinese food, I went to Pei Wei a couple of weeks ago with some friends.  Pei Wei and P.F. Chang's are sister restaurant chains, with Chang's being higher priced and Pei Wei in the lower price range.  Both have very detailed corporate policies about gluten free food and both offer gluten free menus, but I find that Chang's has better educated staff and a more extensive GF menu. It's a case of getting what you pay for.

Still, Pei Wei is a pretty easy and good gluten free experience.  Here is a link to their Menu.  Previously I tried the Asian Chicken Chopped Salad, which was very good.  This time I was craving some egg rolls and since they had a GF version, I went with the Vietnamese Rolls.  Not exactly egg rolls, but still very delicious.

They are actually bigger than they look in the photo.  And the accompanying peanut sauce was reallly yummy.  So, if you're looking for an easy place to go where they have the gluten free menu already laid out for you and you don't have to try to explain gluten free to the waiter, check out Pei Wei.

Mulan, Part I, II & III

Hi folks.  I'm back!  Did you miss me?  Sorry for the long time between posts but things have been super crazy.  First of all I got glutened, which slows me down mentally and physically, then my work schedule became super crazy, and then a wicked combination of strep throat and flu took down our entire household for while. 

Enough with the excuses and back to the restaurant info.  You know, as a Celiac I usually don't mind giving up a lot of things but there are a few I do miss - deep dish pizza, croissants, eggrolls, and crab rangoon.  A while back hubby decided he wanted to try Mulan - the asian restaurant in Cooper Young.  I love trying new restaurants and love supporting restaurants in my neighborhood, but I have to confess that my heart fell a little when he mentioned Mulan.  Eating Chinese food is fraught with peril for Celiacs.  Between the soy sauce, the flour-based sauces, and the large amount of fried foods, it's hard to find something safe for us to eat.  Plus there's the trauma of watching your friends and family eat all those good eggrolls, crab rangoon, and crunchy things that go in the soup (not sure if they have a name, I've always called them soup crunchies) in front of you.  But I decided to give it a shot anyway.

We walked in and were quickly seated.  Then my next challenge came.  Our waiter didn't speak English as his first language.  It's hard enough to explain gluten free to waiters who are native English speakers sometimes, much less someone who has a language barrier to overcome.  I didn't need to worry because the waiter was fantastic.  That was the good news.  The bad news he told me is there was essentially one thing on the menu I could eat - chicken with vegetables in a garlic sauce (with a side of steamed rice).  Atleast it wasn't hard to decide what to order!

The food was really good.  The garlic sauce was very delicious.  And the atmosphere it Mulan is nice too.  They have a front area that they decorate for the holidays - right now there are about 50 stuffed easter bunnies hanging out there.  If you visit, be sure to notice the koi pond on your way to the restroom.  And if you have kids, ask your waiter/waitress to show them the table with the frog that changes color.  I don't give you details on the frog because I don't want to ruin the surprise for you.  Plus on some dishes they use this LED cube that changes color as part of the garnish.  It was a hit with my son.  Here he is playing with some:

A few weeks ago we went back to Mulan to eat again and had a different waiter.  I ordered chicken in garlic sauce again and got a totally different dish this time - still gluten free, but this dish was spicy. I  love spicy.  My hubby is a wimp and can't deal with the heat, so he ordered the same dish but not spicy.  And last night we took some family to Mulan and I got the same thing and it was spicy again.  The spicy version is good too.

So my advice is to try Mulan if you like chicken in garlic sauce.  It's very good.  But know that is essentially the only thing on the menu that is gluten free.  Be sure to remember to specify if you want your dish hot, medium or mild.  And don't forget to visit the color changing frog!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Congrats to Hog & Hominy

Hi folks.  I've been off the boards a while because of my last glutening and an absolutely insane work schedule.  I have a few restaurant reviews up my sleeve, just haven't had time to sit down and write them. 

Just wanted to share something I read in this morning's Daily News:

Memphis has some of the best pizza in the U.S. according to Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Staff Memphis Business Journal
The magazine Travel + Leisure has released a list of the top 20 cities to get a slice of pizza and both Memphis and Nashville made the list.
Though Memphis is well-known as a culinary destination, pizza may not be the first signature food that pops to mind. But Travel + Leisure notes that, "Fun-loving Memphis takes a soulful approach to its pizza."  The article places Memphis 14th on its top 20 list siting Hog & Hominy's Red Eye pizza and the pulled pork and coleslaw pizza at Aldo's Pizza Pies.
So congrats to Hog & Hominy and Aldo's both.  If you haven't had a chance to visit Hog & Hominy check out my earlier review of their Gluten Free Pizza.

Also, as a Midtowner, I've been watching with excitement as some new restaurants are springing up on Union Avenue.  Panera Bread is opening up at the end of the month.  Unfortunately they don't carry any gluten free bread, but they do make a good salad and I hear some of their GF soups are very good.  Also, Five Guys is currently under construction and looks like it will be open pretty soon.  I've had very good experiences eating GF at the Five Guys on Ridgeway and hope that the Midtown one will be just as good.  They offer a delicious GF burger and their fries are safe to eat too.

I hope to be back on the blog very soon with posts on Mulan, Pei Wei, and Frida's. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This past Friday hubby and I were running some errands in East Memphis and wanted to stop and grab a bite.  We decided to try Amerigo.  I just got an I-phone for Christmas and have decided that it's almost a must if you're eating out gluten free just for being able to check out menus.  I hopped online and was super excited to see that they had a gluten free menu.

I asked at the hostess station for the GF menu and they easily found one, which is usually a good sign.  And it even looked like a real menu, with prices and everything.  I've been in restaurants where they had to dig for 10 minutes before they found the GF menu, which was a many-time photocopied, wrinkled thing. 

We were seated and I started salavating over the menu items - Pasta Pomodoro and Spaghetti Alfredo - and all of it gluten free.  I was so excited.  The waitress then came to take our order and crushed my hopes by informing me that they were out of GF pasta.  I could have cried at that moment.  I was almost like my 6 year-old when he wants to do something and is told that he can't.  I pulled myself together and ordered the Veal Picatta.

It tasted pretty good, but would have been better with the pasta it was supposed to be served with.  To console myself over the missing pasta, I ordered the Peanut Butter Rocky Road Blondie.  It was super yummy.  I would have posted a photo but hubby and I had eaten half of it before I remembered to!  It was nice to be able to order a dessert and this one was super tasty.

So the moral of this GF story is not to get your hopes up about the pasta, but feel free to console yourself with some dessert.