August 14, 2012

Review of the British Beer Company – Manchester, NH

Filed under: restaurant, review, Uncategorized — Tags: — glutenfreebymarriage @ 14:17

British Beer Company - Manchester, NH

The British Beer Company 1071 S. Willow Street, Manchester, NH 03103 (603) 232-0677

The Facts:

  • price: Moderate, $28 for two lunches.
  • atmosphere: Friendly staff, very, very loud, typical chain style pub restaurant.
  • menu: Sandwiches, pizzas and traditional British dishes.  Extensive gluten-free menu including sandwiches/wraps, burgers, pizza, salads, and many other items.  They even have gf beer!
  • food quality: Pretty Good!
  • overall recommendation:  Get in line now!  With their huge gluten-free menu (including beer!) I can see the British Beer Company quickly becoming the IN place for GF Granite Staters to meet friends and have a quick meal.

The Details:

We had no idea what to expect when they built the new British Beer Company on South Willow Street.  The mustard yellow building plunked down in the middle of the Pier One/Michael’s parking lot wasn’t too inspiring and British food always seems so bland and heavy, but we went to their website and found that not only do they offer gluten-free items, but they have an extensive selection.

Instead of the tired looking plain steak and potato that some places call gluten-free, the British Beer Company listed a range of options including appetizers, salads (not just lettuce and tomato with oil & vinegar dressing, but the same dinner salads as the main menu), wraps, entrées, burgers and pizzas.  They even had gluten-free cider and beer!

They Have Gluten-Free Beer!

Just the possibility of finding a local restaurant with more than one or two gluten-free items on the menu was enough to make us look past the yellow exterior and beat feet to their front door.

I’m not sure if it’s the newness or if perhaps there are a whole lot more people looking for gluten-free options, but this restaurant was packed.  The first time we tried stopping by was around dinner time and there was a 45 minute wait.  We were in a hurry so we decided to go to Ninety-Nine instead of waiting.  Our second attempt was midweek around 1:30 in the afternoon.

You would think that it would be a little less busy on a Thursday afternoon, but there was still a 30 minute wait for a table.  Fortunately, The British Beer Company has free wi-fi and the time flew by.  (What did we do before smart phones?)

Mr. GF had the Roast Beef Wrap with Cole Slaw.  (Fries were not offered as a gf side.) A large portion of thickly sliced roast beef wrapped with lettuce, tomatoes and horseradish in a gluten-free wrap.  (Not sure what kind of wrap it was.  Definitely not brown rice, it was white like a regular flour tortilla but had the texture indicative of a gluten-free product. )

He said it was good, but not exceptional.  It was a little too bland, but attributed it to the general lack of horseradish in the sandwich.   I think that it was really a matter of preference.  We use a lot of spices at home, but most people seem to prefer a more temperate taste with just a hint of spiciness.  He would order the sandwich again (once he has worked his way through the menu) but would ask for extra horseradish.

I had the (non-gf) Chipotle Chicken Avocado Bap with fries and was pretty pleased.  The avocado was creamy and the roll was almost decadent in it’s glutenous flakey goodness.  I was expecting something like a Kaiser or bulky roll, but it was more like an oversized croissant.  (flakey, buttery, etc…)  It was a huge sandwich for someone who doesn’t normally eat an entire chicken breast, particularly one served on a giant croissant like roll, so I didn’t get to the fries.  They looked crispy and lovely, but I can’t really say how they tasted.

Over all it was well worth the wait.  Their prices are slightly higher than other local chains, but was well within our modest budget and definitely worth it.  The service was friendly, the food was fresh and the gluten- free menu was huge.  When you add in the gluten-free beer option I could easily see the British Beer Company becoming our go to restaurant for meeting friends or getting a quick meal when we don’t feel like cooking.


May 4, 2012

Have You Tried the New Market Basket?

Filed under: Market Basket, review, shopping, Uncategorized — glutenfreebymarriage @ 16:36

It’s a little late for an enabler alert, but we gave in to the hype and went to the new Market Basket on Elm Street last Sunday and thanks to their grand opening sale were able to completely fill the freezer with meat and gluten free bread.  (Serious, I bought no fresh veg and had to run to Hannaford after work on Monday.)  All in all it was an amazing adventure which is  high praise from two people who hate food shopping.

I’m going to sidetrack a bit about the bread.  I don’t usually buy gf bread, but after the great xanthan shortage I had to break down and get a loaf to keep on hand.  Hannaford recently raised the price of Udi’s from $5.99 to $6.99 so when I saw it at Market Basket for $3.89 I stocked up.  (There is a reason we have a stand alone freezer…)

Getting back to the original plot, we were a little disappointed by the gf selection in the bakery, they only had cheesecake when we were there, but were completely blown away by the overall lower prices and fact that they had everything on our list.   I realize that it’s a new store and they should have everything in stock, but I’ve never had the experience of food shopping where every item on my list was checked off.

gluten free bread case at new Market Basket

As you can see from the freezer case they seem to have crammed as many products as possible into one freezer, but don’t be alarmed, this isn’t everything.  Not only are many other gf products distributed throughout the store, but they are conveniently flagged on the shelves with bright green “gluten free” product tags.  (You can see one on the top shelf in the case .)  Checking the small print on every bottle and jar to find hidden wheat is no fun in a crowded store, so you will understand when I say that Mr. GF was thrilled to be have the large green tags to point him to the gf products in every aisle.

After blowing our shopping budget on gluten free bread and meat we discovered that they very thoughtfully stashed some gf items amongst the candy at the check outs for those desperate impulse buys.

Look! GF options at the checkout!

I know it’s impossible to see from the picture, but the peanut butter bar and the cranberry almond bar are both gluten free.

All in all I would have to say that I am hopeful.  After my recent Hannaford experience (it’s been two weeks and they still don’t have xanthan gum) I was starting to worry that the supermarkets were going to treat gf food as a fad and stop carrying it, but now that Market Basket is in town and not only has such a large selection, but goes out of their way to highlight it, I am a little more confident that I won’t have to make everything from scratch.

February 12, 2012

Review of The Pizza Man – Hooksett, NH

Filed under: pizza, restaurant, review — glutenfreebymarriage @ 15:00

The Pizza Man 254 W. River Rd, Hooksett, NH 03106

The Facts:

  • price: Moderately expensive, $26 for 2 small pizzas with 2 cans of soda.  (If the overall quality had been better I would have said average price, but I couldn’t help but think that it was kind of expensive for something that wasn’t any better than frozen pizza from the supermarket.)
  • atmosphere: Very, very clean, otherwise a typical pizza shop with plastic bench seats and tables.
  • menu: Sandwiches and pizzas.  Pizza was the only gf item.
  • food quality: Poor, Mr. GF got sick after eating pizza billed as gluten free.
  • overall recommendation: Skip it.  Too expensive for a basic  pizza house menu and the supposedly gf pizza made my husband sick.

The Details:

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon The Pizza Man, a local pizza restaurant that does  gluten free pizza.

According to their website the owner has Celiac’s Disease and all the employees are trained in how to prepare a gf pizza without cross-contamination.  It looked really promising, but apparently the person who made ours missed the training.

The small pizzas were about the size of a grocery store frozen pizza, so we ordered one gluten free and one regular, and two cans of soda.  The bill came to $26 and change.  It was a little expensive, but we had hopes of enjoying cold pizza the next day and the price was definitely worth it if Mr. GF could get a gf pizza that I didn’t have to make.

Boy was I wrong!

The regular pizza was adequate, a step above the budget frozen varieties.  (I really think most of the high end brands might have been better.) The crust was like cardboard and the toppings were reminiscent of the roller rink.

The gf pizza was pretty much the same, the only difference was that we expected the gf crust to lack the taste and texture of regular pizza crust.

In spite of all this we held on to the belief that an expensive,  sub-standard gf pizza was worth it since we didn’t have to make it ourselves.  Then we got home.

Mr. GF spent most of the rest of the day and evening in the bathroom.  Something that has not happened since he started eating gluten free, even when he accidentally ate food with gluten.

Considering that they make a big deal about the fact that they know how to do gluten free, I probably should have contacted the manager or owner to complain, but I didn’t.   Mr. GF was sick enough after eating their version of a  gf pizza that there are not enough assurances in the world that would convince us to try The Pizza Man again.  EVER.

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