Eating out used to be so fun and easy. Since I went gluten free a year and a half ago it has become complicated. My first question when anyone suggests a restaurant is this “Is it safe?” My sister Karen thought I was talking about the neighborhood where the restaurant was located. I had to explain that it was my feel of being glutened that I was talking about safety for.
Recently, a fairly new restaurant (open 3-4 months), the 2nd Street Tavern in Emmaus, PA contacted me and asked me to review their food. Generally I eat somewhere and then write about the experience. This was a bit different. I felt like a minor celebrity, getting a starter we hadn’t ordered to nibble while we decided on our choices and then a free cocktail to sip until the food arrived. And in fairness I should disclose that they comped my portion of the meal except my wine. I did tell them I would tell it like I saw the food. Anyway, back to the yummy meal we enjoyed there….
The free drink was called the 2nd Street Mule and I loved its gingery spicy flavor. Made with Crabbie’s ginger beer, a ginger liquor called Domaine de Canton, fresh strawberry pieces and lime. I drank mine and some of Joe’s. It was refreshing and naturally gluten free.
We had their spicy deviled eggs with bacon topping as that free starter. Mine was delicious and yes, very spicy. Joe ate two of them!
We then enjoyed some PEI mussels in a lovely tomato broth and a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, arugula and sunflower seeds. I liked the flavors in that salad although I would have put more beets and less arugula in it. I love beet salad and the goat cheese was really creamy and tangy. Perfect combination.
Joe chose the cider and beer braised pork shoulder. I couldn’t try it as the beer was not safe for me but he said it was the best pork he had ever had. I am hoping they make a cider and gf beer version so I can try it someday. He had a big serving and ate every scrap of it. He had some thin sliced sauted Brussels sprouts that he said were fantastic. I asked for a serving for me and they were very fresh and tasty. His mashed sweet potatoes were yummy. I ate some that I scooped off before he had any. Safety first!
I had the Dungeness Crab in a spicy tomato broth. A whole giant crab! I was sort of expecting a stew with bits of crab so deconstructing an entire crab was a project in and of itself. I think I could have made good use of a lobster bib. The meat was sweet and I liked it dipped in the excellent broth. I asked for a spoon and that utensil was perfect for scooping up crab meat and broth.
We were too full for dessert, which was okay as they don’t have any GF choices. Something to work on 2nd Street, some places have fresh fruit or sorbet which can be perfect on a warm summer day.
The service was friendly and excellent; my Italian Pinot Grigio wine was tasty. Our table was in an inside room, although it had a big window opening to the outer dining area providing light but it was still pleasantly dim and just cool enough. Great for a relaxing unrushed meal.
I plan to go back soon; 2nd Street Tavern is rolling out a new menu in about a week. I have two suggestions for the management; remember spoons when any sort of broth is served and if you want to attract the GF crowd you should take the time to type up a one page GF menu showing possible selections and noting anything that has to be left off. I eat out often when I travel up to Boston and I am always reassured when I get even a one page hand typed GF menu. Then I know they are thinking about GF enough to put it in a separate menu. Some places place an asterisk next to all GF items and note it at the bottom. That works too.
Safety is paramount to those of us with celiac disease. Even a speck of flour can make me really sick. We are always looking for good safe GF food. This new restaurant is sure worth a visit to Emmaus for.
I hope they take my suggestion on a GF menu to heart. And one last thing…. I really wish they would make that pork shoulder in a cider braised version; I long to enjoy a plate of it; maybe with mashed potatoes along with their great sauteed Brussels sprouts! And that crazy good mixed drink they serve in a copper mug, made with Crabbie’s ginger beer; a must have on a hot summer day. It alone is worth a visit to enjoy a couple of those!