Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No More Bodo's: Gluten Free Trips to Charlottesville, VA

David and I’ve gotten to partake in some great trips together this summer and shared many delicious meals. Once David finished the Bar in July, we decided to meet up for a few days in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both graduates of UVA, David and I love Charlottesville. For those of you that have been to Charlottesville, unfortunately many of the places we loved so much in college are based around bread…Bel Air sandwiches, Bodos’ bagels, and Take it Away bread ends with house dressing are just a few of the places I can no longer go…well, I still go there and just watch David eat our old favorites!

Needless to say, we’ve had to explore new options when we go to Charlottesville now. While it was tricky at first, we’ve found some yummy, gluten free alternatives and rediscovered old places with our new gluten free perspective. Sadly, I don’t think Bodo’s will ever be gluten free!

So I arrived in Charlottesville, eager to meet up with David who is coming from Roanoke where he took the Bar. For dinner that night, we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants from our college days, Duner's Restaurant. Located on Route 250, five miles west of Charlottesville, Duner’s is small and does not take reservations, but it is totally worth the potential wait.

I was amazed at what a large menu they had and the wait staff was extremely friendly and encouraged me to decide what I wanted to order. I made my selections and the waitress told me that the chef would definitely be able to produce gluten free versions of my choices. Not only did she ensure that my meal would be gluten free, but she also said they could make David’s gluten free as well. For those gluten free eaters out there you know what a treat it is to be able to eat off of someone else’s plate at a restaurant!

The meal was absolutely delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ordered as well as David’s! We shared grilled sea scallops for our appetizer that were prepared with a summer squash salsa on top. For my main course I chose rack of lamb with sun dried tomato pesto. The menu listed the rack of lamb as ‘parmesan crusted’ so the chef just left off the crust and sprinkled some parmesan on top. It was perfectly prepared and the sun dried tomato pesto went perfectly with the lamb. David ordered the grilled ribeye steak and it too was perfectly flavored. The chef put the sauce for the ribeye (which was not gluten free) on the side for him so I could try it. I personally think I out ordered David but both meals were unique, flavor and delicious! The wait staff was very knowledgeable about gluten and definitely willing to accommodate their gluten free customer.

The next morning David and I ventured out for our morning coffee. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease, I’ve discovered a Charlottesville bakery called Baker's Palate that makes gluten free muffins. My personal favorite are their pumpkin muffins, but they also make banana muffins. Located close to the Downtown Mall, we stopped in to stock up. They keep their gluten free muffins in the freezer, so they’re not freshly baked each day but they’re still delicious. I would suggest heating them up before you dive in. The owner pointed out to me that she makes the gluten free pumpkin muffins with raisins. Note: if you are ever at Baker’s Palate and they serve you a pumpkin muffin without raisins, it’s NOT gluten free. Just a heads up!

Baker’s Palate also sells their gluten free muffins at Java Java coffee shop on the Downtown Mall (421 E. Main St.), but sometimes they’re sold out and they never have more than a few. In the past I’ve gotten a bunch of muffins at Baker’s Palate and stuck them in the freezer. They freeze really well; just reheat them in the oven.

As any good vacation goes, by the time you finish coffee and breakfast, you’re thinking about your next meal. Lunch is tough in Charlottesville with no more Bel Air or Take it Away, but we’ve discovered (thanks to Gluten Free Bird), The Flat Creperie on the Downtown Mall. At The Flat you can order buckwheat crepes that are gluten free. They serve both sweet and savory crepes at this crepe stand.

While delicious and filling, The Flat is not a fine dining experience. It’s often very busy and the only potential seating can be found on benches outside. Being that there are cramped quarters in the kitchen, I do worry about contamination but they wipe down the crepe makers before they make a buckwheat crepe and all of their ingredients you can get inside the crepes are gluten free. I’m very sensitive to gluten, but in the three times I’ve eaten at the Flat, I’ve never gotten sick. My personal favorite is a buckwheat crepe with chicken, spinach, cheddar and tomatoes. Yummy! Once I get my crepe I like to take my food and sit on the Downtown Mall. The Flat tends to be quite hot a crowded in their front yard eating area.

Now I’ve saved the best news for last about our trip to Charlottesville. Arch's, the popular frozen yogurt spot, is gluten free!! Hooray! I indulged in this dessert twice while on our three day stay. Sadly, you must stay away from all of the toppings (major cross contamination with all of the serving utensils and open area where the mix ins are located) so you can’t get an Archer. I brought my own M&Ms and homemade granola to add to my peanut butter and chocolate swirl frozen treat.

Another fun afternoon treat in Charlottesville are the many vineyards nearby. Our personal favorite is King Family Vineyards, located off of 250 in Crozet. The grounds are beautiful and the UVA polo team plays on the fields on the property. There is plenty of seating outside and they don’t mind at all if you bring your own food. The vineyard also sells cheeses on the premises but you’ll want to bring your own gluten free crackers.

So even though I’ll no longer have a Zazu’s wrap or a Bel Air picnic at Beaver Creek, David and I have found many gluten free alternatives in Charlottesville as we stayed well fed during our Charlottesville visit.


Beryl said...

Thanks for these recs! I was actually just visiting a old friend of mine in C-ville last week I would've loved to have some of these. Now I just have an excuse to go back and visit!

Another place to add to your list is "Revolutionary Soup" They have about 8-10 soups on the menu daily and the ones that are gluten free are proudly marked with a GF. They also mark Vegan and Vegetarian options as well. I was really impressed with them.

Michelle Kleine said...

Thanks for this. I am gluten free in Charlottesville and always stuggle.