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Portia's Cafe
4428 Indianola Avenue
Columbus, OH 43214


5.0 Palms
5.0 Palms
Portia's Cafe - Vegan Heaven and gluten free in Columbus! Aug 24, 2015
reviewer: Suze from Ohio

Don't let the vegan scare you. Portia's food is so good you don't miss the dairy, eggs, or meat.

Portia's Cafe is conveniently off I-71 not far from downtown Columbus. The restaurant was easy to find (just look for the burgundy awning). It is a tiny space, easily overlooked in a small strip shopping area, but well worth the effort.

We arrived after 7:30 on a Saturday and the restaurant was at capacity. There was a bar-height table with two stools available, so we put the kids on the stools, and stood until a table opened up. While waiting, we ordered the appetizer sampler, consisting of four dips: hummus, guacamole, spinach-artichoke, and walnut pate, served with tortilla chips, veggies and rice crackers. The walnut pate was so good, we ordered a second one.

Once a table cleared, we sat and ordered dinner. The kids had the bean burrito, which was very tasty, but had too many onions for my son. Next time, he will order it without onions. I had the nightly special, which was a Mediterranean wrap. The wrap was soft and pliable, and held a bouquet of flavors. The shredded carrots gave a sweetness, offsetting the hummus and falafel perfectly. The balance of flavors was wonderful. My friend ordered the Falafel wrap. The pickle took her back to another place and a good time in her life, and she ordered another, just to savor it. The wraps were so generous, I took home half of mine and half of my son's and enjoyed them for lunch and dinner the next day. They were still soft and pliable the next day, and just as delicious.

The kids ordered strawberry shakes, and they were a dessert unto themselves. It has encouraged my son to try smoothies again.

The chocolate cheesecake for dessert was unreal. The chocolate was sweet but not too sweet. The consistency was that of conventional cheesecake. I would put this dessert up against the full-dairy version any time and it would win.

Portia was amazing. While tending to other customers and supervising the restaurant, she spent time talking to us about her restaurant, recipes, and gluten free. It was like a delightful visit with an old friend.

She does not advertise as being dedicated gluten free, because although she sources everything gluten free, she cannot be 100% assured that all her sources are dedicated. She works very hard to make sure every ingredient is clean. There is no gluten used in anything in the restaurant.

I can't wait to go to Columbus again to re-experience this delightful place.

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Mellow Mushroom
Broadway
Asheville, NC 28801


5.0 Palms
5.0 Palms
Gluten Free Pizza and Wings at Asheville, NC restaurant! Aug 24, 2015
reviewer: Suze

Mellow Mushroom in Asheville was a very pleasant surprise. We generally eat at Green Sage when we visit Western North Carolina, but they have changed their menu and gluten free policies, so there were fewer choices and I did not feel confident that we could safely eat there. We decided to check out Mellow Mushroom and I was so happy we did. The decor in the restaurant is funky-fun. In the courtyard entrance, there is an old Ronald McDonald statue sitting on a park bench. He was wearing fashionable shades and coated in multicolor splashes of paint. Upon entering, it was like a trip down the rabbit hole, complete with Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit. The host assured us that gluten free was no problem and seated us promptly. The back of the menu has the gluten free options, and this location has a separate dedicated gluten free kitchen. If you order off the gluten free menu exclusively, all your food comes from a dedicated kitchen. Our server was knowledgeable and sensitive to our needs.

We ordered hot wings and salad to start. My son was delighted to experience hot wings for the first time in his life. He has a new favorite. They were crispy and perfectly cooked and coated. The ranch dip was a great counterpoint to the spiciness. My Greek salad was basic, but very tasty and was a generous portion for a starter.

We ordered the House Special which was a "Red Sauce base pizza with Mozzarella, Pepperoni, Sausage, Ground Beef, Ham, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Mushrooms, Black Olives, Roma Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Onions and extra Cheese." (verbatim from their menu). The toppings were plentiful but balanced. The sauce was perfect and not overwhelming to the overall flavor. The crust...oh, the crust...a teff-based delight. Thin and crispy but also chewy. The slice folded without breaking and held the toppings well.

Our service was perfect. She kept our drinks topped off without asking, food was delivered quickly, and she was friendly and attentive without being intrusive.

I was a little concerned because the pizza was only 12" for the three of us, and we hadn't eaten all day, but with the appetizers, we could barely finish it. We drove the six-plus hours home with happy tummies and a desire to return soon.

If you check out their website, don't be alarmed by their gluten free menu. As a chain, they standardize their website across stores. The actual menu on-site has more options and tells you about the gluten free kitchen. It is a shame all the stores don't do what Asheville does, but it is one more reason to visit this most wonderful city.

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CJ's Italian Kitchen
Covington Way
Vienna, WV 26105


3.0 Palms
3.0 Palms
Not as good of a GF experience this time Nov 16, 2015
reviewer: Suze from , Ohio

I revisited CJ's Italian Kitchen Restaurant today and was terribly disappointed. In the year and a half since my last visit obviously much has changed with CJ's, and not for the better. Her stuffed mushrooms, which were so wonderful last visit, were now just mushrooms with cheese topping swimming in flavored oil. This time the salad was bland and the dressing was absolutely tasteless. She no longer offers ravioli and the only gluten free pasta available was angel hair, which she labeled as spaghetti. The Alfredo sauce tasted as if it came from a jar and was very reminiscent of a bechamel sauce. On the upside, my son's pizza was still good but not as good as last time either. It is a shame because everything was outstanding last visit. The only thing that hasn't changed is the excellent service. Our waitress was wonderful.

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CJ's Italian Kitchen
190 Covington Way
Vienna, WV 26105


5.0 Palms
5.0 Palms
Gluten free in Vienna, WV May 28, 2014
reviewer: Suze

I found an amazing restaurant in the Vienna/Parkersburg, WV area. It is CJ's Italian Kitchen at 75 Covington Way, Vienna, WV 26105.

Prior to my trip, I researched and found this restaurant online. I emailed the owner about protocols, and she was very responsive. We sent several messages back and forth until I was satisfied that it would be safe for me and my son. We ate there last Friday while traveling and it was amazing.

When I arrived, I asked for Cindy, and she came up and greeted me warmly and told me that she would be with me very shortly to go over the menu. She gave us time to sit and order beverages, then spent several minutes going over every item on the menu which was gluten free, how it was prepared, and the protocols in place to ensure cross contamination was minimized. (You can't guarantee no cross-contamination, but I and my son are exceedingly sensitive, and had NO adverse reaction.)

We ordered stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer, and they were sublime. I have never, even before Celiac, when I could eat with abandon, had a stuffed mushroom which had such a symphony of flavors. My dining companions, who are not Celiac, agreed that it was the best stuffed mushroom they had ever eaten.

I then had the salad without croutons, with the house-made Ranch dressing. It had sweet warm roasted vegetables on the cold, crisp mixed greens. It was amazing. (Noticing a theme?)

For an entree, I had the small portion of ravioli, and my son had a pepperoni pizza. They offer small and large portions of their pastas, so if you have a hearty appetite, you will not be disappointed. Portion sizes are very generous. The pizza was wood fired with a thin crust. It was exceedingly good and a generous 10". The ravioli was so good, I thought I had accidentally been served conventional ravioli. It was heavy on the garlic, but I love garlic, so that was not a problem for me. My only (minor) complaint is that I ordered marinara, and it was heavy with red pepper flakes. I think that is how marinara is being served these days, because I ate elsewhere a while ago and the marinara was equally hot and spicy. But overall, the marinara flavor was good, albeit overly spicy hot. I just scraped off most of the sauce and savored the ravioli. One of my companions had the conventional ravioli in Alfredo sauce, and they said the Alfredo was the best they had ever eaten. I understand that their Alfredo is totally gluten free, whether you order conventional or gluten free pasta.

For dessert, I ordered carrot cake, which unfortunately was very dense and overly sweet. My companion ordered the conventional lemon creme cake, and they oohed and aahed all through the slice. I wished I could have eaten that!

The service was very good. Attentive but not intrusive. We never had an empty glass and our spent dishes were cleared very quickly. They have an open kitchen, so it was fun to watch the action there while waiting and eating. They offer a full bar as well. The restaurant is a little difficult to find because it looks like the entrance to a gated residential area, but Google maps were correct. If you go on a Friday, get there early. We were there at 5 p.m., and by the time we left the parking lot was double-parked with people waiting for a space to get in.

Cindy recommended their fish dishes with risotto, and based on what was passing my table, they looked amazing. Also based on how the food we ordered tasted, I am sure they tasted amazing, too. If I make it back to that area, I will definitely eat there again.

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