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[Restaurant Review] Buddy’s Pizza

Posted by Obake on Jul 16, 2011 in Restaurant Reviews

This is a review for the Buddy’s Pizza on Van Dyke.

Ah pizza. The junk food I miss most outside of donuts. To my surprise, there are a few places you can get gluten free pizza around Metro Detroit. We really like our pizza you see! So I chose Buddy’s pizza because it was close to me, and because I’d heard several really good reviews about how good it was from other celiacs in the area.

It says right away on their sign they make a gluten free pizza, which took the guesswork out of it. I ordered a pizza that had ham, onions, garlic and pineapple. They cost about $10 for a base pizza and the toppings are the same price as a regular pizza to add. It is a 10″ pizza, so it isn’t really that big, meant probably for just one person, though me and my dining partner shared one.  But oh my is it ever delicious. They manage to make the sides of the dough crispy, and its soft and chewy on the inside. The toppings are all fresh and just a tiny bit crispy, and the tomato sauce is very flavourful. I’d say despite the size, it makes up for it in deliciousness, and is definitely worth it if you live in the Metro Detroit area!

Grade: A

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[Restaurant Review] Thuy Trang

Posted by Obake on Jul 15, 2011 in Advice/Tips, Naturally Gluten Free, Restaurant Reviews

This is a review of Thuy Trang on John R. Rd., Madison Heights, MI.

There is one thing you can eat without any problem among Asian food, and that is Phở. What is pho? It is a savoury soup made with beef broth, herbs (usually with a heavy anise flavour), rice noodles, and various kinds of meat and vegetables. Every restaurant has a subtly different way of making this. Most of the places along John R, also known by some of the locals as Lil Saigon, are air conditioned, making it a year-round meal. It is pretty much the only thing I got at Viet restaurants, even before I went gluten free.

There are four or five places you can get pho in this area alone. But my favourite of these is Thuy Trang. It is a tiny shop that seats maybe 45 if it were completely full, and it is late in the evening, so it is recommended to get there before 8pm. They serve other food, but if you look around at your fellow diners, you’ll see that the main attraction is the pho. This is a sit-down place, and I recommend that you have a bit of time to eat.

You can order your pho any way you like, from the medium-cooked beef slices with meatballs (my favourite), to a full deluxe bowl, which has medium cooked beef slices, beef tendon, beef tripe, and meatballs in it if you are feeling adventurous. The meatballs I should point out now are gluten free (I checked), and are nothing like any sort of meatball you’ve ever had. They’re chewy and dense, made of just meat, tendon, and spices, so you may not like them, but I recommend that you try them at least once. You can order any bowl with extra of something you like, or omit things you don’t like. It comes with a very large platter of bean sprouts, Asian mint, jalapeno slices, and slices of lime. You can put as much or as little of these as you like in your soup, and I am especially partial to the bean sprouts.

I also had a Vietnamese iced coffee, which is strong iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk on top. Very good and recommended.

Be aware that the hoisin sauce that is on the table is not gluten free, so avoid it. The sriracha however is gluten free, so you can have as much of that as you like, but it is hot, so don’t put it in unless you like hot condiments. Also, while beef pho is gluten free, chicken pho may not be (chicken boullion and soup starter often has wheat, while beef does not), so always ask. Likely though, every shop in this neighborhood does not use instant stock.

Though this place is probably not entirely safe to eat at if you eat the other food, the chances are strong you will come here for the pho, which is safe to eat. Thus, this restaurant gets an A. Highly recommended.

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[Restaurant Review] Sala Thai

Posted by Obake on Jul 13, 2011 in Advice/Tips, Restaurant Reviews

This review is for Sala Thai on 14 mile road between Dequindre and Ryan.

One thing I’m learning about this area is that if your server does not speak English as a first language, you will have problems explaining why you can’t have wheat. It’s not their fault, and I will probably be ordering multilingual celiac dining cards in the future to avoid this.

Thai food in general looks like it is safe at first glance. Rice noodles and the like give the illusion that it will be safe. It is not. And you won’t be able to explain it well enough to get through to a server that mostly speaks Thai. There is a reason though, and its not obvious. This time, it had little to do with the language barrier and everything to do with Thai “secret sauce”. Now, I did explain that I was allergic to wheat and could not have soy sauce. Fine, there are things that have the Thai sauce in them and that’s ok right. Nope. The first thing, is that if you ask them to tell you what is in it, they’ll tell you the name, but not what is in the sauce itself. Because its a “secret”. So, what is Thai Secret Sauce? It’s a sauce called Golden Mountain. It is NOT safe for celiacs to eat. But because it isn’t soy sauce, they won’t tell you this. I had to look it up.

This is where the problem comes in. I tasted it, tasted something like soy sauce, and put it down. Explained that I could not eat it because it contained wheat. What happened next was a bit shocking. They took it, and threw it away. Was I asked if I wanted a replacement? No. Did I pay for the dish that was discarded and which my dining partner could have eaten, that we asked to be put in a takeout box so he could eat it? YES. I would like to repeat that. I paid for a dish that was thrown away, not asked if I wanted a replacement, was ignored when I asked them to put it in a box instead of discarding it, and then I was charged for it.

If that hadn’t happened, if I had gotten the food in a box that my dining partner could have eaten, and not wasted his money, I would not be upset. Sala Thai is a relatively expensive place to eat, and said entree was $12. That is a hell of a lot of money to pay and not get any food. I am not afraid to say I burst into tears at this, both at the prospect of being sick (which I was, for the record), and the fact I’d wasted $12. Though I love that place, I won’t be going back. If they had not discarded food I paid for, I would give this restaurant a C. As it is, I wish I could give it an F.

Grade: D. Don’t bother unless you have allergen cards, and prepare to be disappointed.

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[Restaurant Review] Detroit Red Hots Coney Island

Posted by Obake on Jul 13, 2011 in Advice/Tips, Restaurant Reviews

This review is for the Detroit Red Hots Coney Island on 14 mile road and Stephenson highway.

I want to start out by saying that diners and coney islands are going to be the bane of your existence if you are celiac. They are rife with cross-contamination, and this place was not an exception sadly. I say sadly, because though this place is now unsafe for me as a celiac, it’s a great place to eat if you are NOT celiac. Do not misinterpret this as a bad place to eat overall, because that is not what I am trying to say, its just a bad place for celiacs to eat.

There are a few things about diners in general that make them unsafe places to eat:

1) Cross contamination. Often the grills are not wiped down between courses or freed of gluten before cooking a new course.

2) There is wheat in things that you don’t think there is wheat. Like using flour to make shredded potatoes crispy.

3) Servers are usually unsympathetic to you. Many will take offense or worse to your request.

I am going to say right now that some of this is bad judgement on my part, but that doesn’t change my opinion. After looking over the menu, there are a few things that looked safe, which amounted to omelets and salads. Strike one. I saw steak and eggs, and thought, “Hey, that sounds safe!”, so I ordered that, specifically without toast. When it arrived, what was on the plate? Toast. I try to explain why its a bad thing that there is toast on my plate, and it turns into an argument. Finally, tired of arguing over it, I give the toast to my dining partner and because I am starving at the time, and throw caution to the wind and eat it anyway. My first warning should have been that the steak tasted like pancake mix. Regardless, I eat it all, because I am hungry. I will find out later that everything I ate was contaminated, and suffer for a day and a half with a feeling that is akin to drinking acid. I am not particularly keen on ever repeating that.

If you didn’t guess already this restaurant gets a D. I am sad that I have to do this, because I loved that place, but I can’t risk being that sick again. This place is entirely unsafe for celiacs.

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[Restaurant Review] Chipotle

Posted by Obake on Jul 11, 2011 in Advice/Tips, Restaurant Reviews

This is a new section of the blog that will be updated as I experience it. I found when I first went gluten free that it was difficult to navigate eating out. A lot of the businesses on the Gluten Free Registry  are chains, and the coverage was spotty. I am still having trouble with finding resources in Metro Detroit, so I’m making some! Mostly, this section will be used to relay my experiences with local restaurants that are NOT chains.

I am going to rate my experiences with a simple system:

S –Has an all gluten free menu, free of cross contamination.

A –Minimal effort required to order, food is great, has celiac friendly menu or a great majority of their food is gluten free.

B –Requires some explaining to order, food is good, doesn’t have celiac menu/doesn’t cater to celiacs.

C –Requires extreme explaining to order, food is mediocre or not on par with a gluten-containing option, very few/no celiac friendly items on the menu.

D –You will not be understood when you place your order, cross contamination occurred, and/or the chef/server was rude or unaccommodating. Going to a place with this grade will probably anger/frustrate you and probably make you sick. Proceed with extreme caution if you do go.

For those not in the know, Chipotle is a fast food joint that sells Mexican food to go, most of it grown and raised sustainably. This is one of the few fast food restaurants where the majority of the menu is safe to eat. They are ok with changing their gloves to avoid cross contamination, and while their corn says they might have some issue, I didn’t have an issue with their corn salsa, even though I am moderately sensitive to cross contamination. This review is for the Chipotle on 16 mile road (Big Beaver) and Crooks Rd.

I purchased a burrito bowl, which is basically their giant burrito…in a bowl instead of a tortilla. Its the same amount of food as the tortilla wrapped burrito, and they customized it the way I wanted with no fuss at all. I got what I would have gotten in a tortilla in the past, and I found I didn’t really miss it at all. I also got the lime salt tortilla chips with guacamole, which I was happy to see was safe to eat! All the food was fresh and delicious, in the same portions as everything else they have there, and I didn’t feel awkward while ordering.

Grade: A

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