Monday, May 12, 2014

Villa Dolce

It was Saturday, and a gorgeous spring day was beckoning. After being cooped up all winter, we were looking for any excuse to be outside. On the way to grab a cupcake from Bloom, we decided to stop for lunch at Villa Dolce next door.

Villa Dolce offers GF pasta substitutions and although the salads were not marked GF, I assume most, if not all their salads could be prepared gluten free as well. I believe they also had one GF appetizer on their lunch menu. The person at the counter was very friendly and helpful in answering questions to help with making a selection.

We ordered at the counter (they have counter service for lunch and table service for dinner) and sat outside to bask in the sunshine while we waited for our meal. Warm weather begs for sangrias and this was the perfect way to spend the short wait before our meal arrived.

Then on to the pasta "farfalle" which was a generous serving of pasta with shaved asparagus, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and chicken in a lemon marscapone sauce, with gluten free penne substituted for the bowtie. The chicken and pasta were perfectly cooked and the sauce was deliciously creamy. Yum!

I would definitely say that Villa Dolce merits a place in the regular restaurant rotation, particularly when we're looking for an outdoor location on those perfect sunny days. Now if only their pizzas were gluten free!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream - Sequoa Commons

I know that posts here have become few and far between, but there just haven't been that many restaurants that have been exciting me lately with their GF offerings. I'm taking suggestions if anyone has any!

Although there haven't been many restaurants to write about lately, with summer approaching, I have been getting excited about Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Sequoya Commons. In general, Chocolate Shoppe does carry a number of flavors that are gluten free and these are listed on their website. There's an option to check gluten free and there are even some flavors that are both GF and dairy free, including Italian ices. This in and of itself is pretty great, but what makes me excited enough to write a post is that, at least at the Sequoya Commons location, there is an option to order GF cones! Both cake cones and sugar cones in GF varieties are available (apologies for the horrible pic, but I was trying to be inconspicuous). The cones are kept in a separate glass jar and the servers rinse the scoops before serving each person, so it seems to be as a safe as an ice cream place could be.

On this occasion, I had the sugar cone with turtle ice cream. The turtle is a delicious combination of vanilla ice cream with swirls of chocolate and caramel and bits of salted pecans. Decadent and delicious!

Hopefully, the weather will actually be summer-like sometime soon. And if ice cream is on your summer menu, you might want to give a Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream GF cone a try. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bison Jacks

Bison Jacks is located in Greenway Station in Middleton. They are a relatively quick service restaurant that serves primarily hot dogs and burgers made from bison, with sides such as coleslaw, baked fries and salads. They cook the meat to order and then you can customize the toppings.

The main pros of Bison Jacks are that they stock gluten free buns, appear to be very careful about cross contamination issues and there is hardly ever anyone in the restaurant, even on a Friday night which makes for very little wait for a made to order burger and/or hot dog. In the past I have received a copy of the list of items they carry that are gluten free, but they did not seem to have a copy at my most recent visit.

I have only ever had their burgers and so can't comment on their hot dogs although they do have a number of specialty dogs to choose from in addition to being able to customize your own. As for the burgers, they do satisfy a burger craving if you are in the mood for an actual burger with a bun that you don't have to make at home but don't want to go to a bustling place like jacs. The burgers appear to only be made well done and can be topped with cheese and a variety of other topics of your choosing. I recently ordered the combo which came with a burger, soda and choice of side and was under $10, although it appears that the prices are increasing shortly according to a sign posted on the register.

Overall, for ease of having a safe gluten free meal away from home, I would give Bison Jacks an A. The staff is also very friendly and accommodating. The burger itself is fairly average but the competition in the market for gluten free burgers in Madison is fairly limited and so I would consider Bison Jacks to be a solid choice. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Yesterday we braved the slushy roads after the snowstorm and ventured out to Bellini for dinner. Bad weather is a great time to go anywhere that's typically busy since no one else wants to. It usually means little to no wait, which is a nice treat on a Friday night during the peak dinner hour.

Bellini is located close to downtown and is in an old church built in 1897. It has beautiful stained glass windows and the furnishings complement the location, even if they're not particularly comfortable.

We started with the meatballs as an appetizer which were fantastic! The combination of the meatballs, sauce, mushrooms and spinach was divine. If they offered an entree size, I think I would order it all the time!

The gluten free items are now marked on the menu, which is helpful. Although the pasta dishes are not marked as gluten free, they usually offer some of them with gluten free pasta. Yesterday, however, they were out of GF pasta which was somewhat disappointing. This did, however, offer the opportunity to try something new from the menu. I ordered the Sogliola alla Romesco which is a fillet of sole in slightly spicy roasted red pepper and almond butter sauce served with green beans. The flavor is similar to Harissa and was pretty good.

My husband ordered the Gamberi al Forno which has jumbo shrimp in a white wine sauce with mashed potatoes. It is also listed as GF and so I tried a bite of that as well. The shrimp are huge and pretty tasty, although I think the sauce was fairly average.

The Flourless chocolate cake is the only GF dessert and we were in the mood for some so we ordered that as well. I prefer mine to be more chocolaty than this one was, but it wasn't bad.

I would definitely say the meatballs were the highlight of the meal and in the future, I would order these as a starter and probably one of the pasta dishes if they have pasta on hand. In the past I've had the Gamberi alla Diavola which has the jumbo shrimp in a slightly spicy vodka tomato cream sauce over GF pasta and I can highly recommend that dish.

This may be the third or fourth time I've actually eaten at Bellini although I've been there several other times when the restaurant has been closed for a private event, usually a wedding reception. If you've ever been here, you know why it's such a popular location. It really is a gorgeous building both inside and out. If you're planning to go there during wedding season, I'd definitely recommend calling ahead to make sure they're open to the public. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lazy Jane's Cafe

Although I haven't written about any restaurants recently, it's not been for lack of eating out. We've even tried a couple new ones, like Johnny Delmonico's for restaurant week and old favorites like Kabul. They've all been good and the meatballs at Kabul are amazing and worth trying if you haven't already.

However, I have somehow missed out on the GF scones at Lazy Jane's until this morning. I've been to Lazy Jane's in the past and been happy that they offer gluten free bread with their breakfasts, but we haven't been there in about two years. I really don't know if they've always made GF scones and I missed out because I got there too late or if these are new, but they're definitely worth getting there early to make sure you get a hold of one! This morning they had GF lemon cream scones. I'm not sure if they do different ones, but these were fantastic.

Lazy Jane's seems to take reasonable precautions in the restaurant and the GF scones were above the other baked goods and off to the side, which is probably the best that could be done. In the bakery annex they're housed in with the rest of the baked products which makes me more nervous. Either way, the amount of gluten around the GF things does make me more nervous than in some other places. I had a hard time resisting, however, and ordered my scone from the restaurant along with breakfast and so far, I haven't noticed any negative effects from it - just lemony, buttery yumminess.

I also ordered "The Works" with GF toast for breakfast which comes with a choice of meats - I went with bacon. The breakfast was decent, but the highlight really was that GF scone.

Lazy Jane's is on the near East Side. If you've never been, there are some things that I think are helpful to know. Firstly parking is difficult, so it's best to try to find street parking close enough to the restaurant or walk if you're close enough. The procedure is that you stand in line and order, then you find a table, then you get your food from the counter when they call your name. After you're done eating, you bus your own table. There's also a bakery annex a couple doors down on the same side of the street that's open on weekends if you're only getting baked goods. It's also cash only, so be sure to have enough when you go in. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I'm sure anyone who's been gluten free in Madison for more than a month knows about Bunky's. It seems like they've been catering to gluten free diners in Madison before it was cool to do so. I think that one of the main reasons that they're so great is because the owners have a family member with gluten intolerance and they really seem to be on a mission to provide great GF food to the community.

If you've ever been to Bunky's you know that the atmosphere in the restaurant is one of a kind. It's part grandma's house, part Middle Eastern marketplace and all uniquely Bunky's! Their move to the new location on Atwood a short distance away from their original Atwood location did not dampen the unique style of this restaurant.

I vaguely remember ordering a couple different items when I first ate at Bunky's before I discovered the magic that is the pesto pizza and I have to admit that it's now the only thing I get there. It's been so long since I've had anything else except for their desserts (more on those to come) that I can't honestly comment on anything else on their menu. They do have GF pasta available with most of their pasta dishes and can do any of their pizzas on the GF crust which is made by Silly Yak Bakery.

This past Tuesday I was there with a friend and as always ordered the pesto pizza which has pesto as the sauce with spinach, basil, cheese and artichokes on top. I always get the large size so that I have some to take home for the next day. As always, it did not disappoint. Silly Yak also carries Bunky's pizzas frozen for preparation at home and I have gotten these in a pinch, but I really prefer getting them made at the restaurant.

As I alluded to above, Bunky's also makes amazing gluten free desserts - the difficult part is saving room for them when the entrees are so delicious, but I always seem to find room. They always have several GF options and this time I had the chocolate mouse pie which was light, fluffy and heavenly. I've had several of their desserts and they have all been excellent!

If you're in the market for great gluten free food in a cozy, quirky atmosphere, Bunky's is the place to be! Enjoy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shish Cafe

I probably can't count the number of times I have passed by the unassuming strip mall that Shish Cafe is located in without giving it a thought. Then within the past few months I've had two separate people rave about it when I've asked for recommendations for good Middle Eastern food and made a mental note that I really should stop in to see what they have to offer. Even so, we just never seem to think about it when we're looking for somewhere to eat until this past Friday when somehow we actually remembered to stop in.

Now that we've finally eaten there, we won't have trouble remembering it in the future. Shish Cafe is located on the West side of Madison on University Avenue and has many classic Syrian dishes, including a number of lamb, seafood and vegetarian meals with a smattering of chicken and beef offerings as well. The waiter did not seem to have a clue about gluten when I asked, but I pulled out my trusty Triumph dining card which he diligently read and then advised me on the menu choices.

We ordered the lamb chops and also the sea bass, both with hummus as the waiter informed us that the basmati rice was made with pasta in it. He was also careful to leave off a garlic bulb that he reported was usually served with the sea bass because it is typically dusted with flour.

Both meals were done to perfection and seasoned well with the lamb cooked to medium and the sea bass being tender and cooked perfectly. The hummus was also delicious as was the yogurt dipping sauce. The portion sizes are not large and the sea bass left me wishing for a few more bites. I think the expectation is that the pita that is served on the table will supplement the portion sizes, but this of course is not an option when eating gluten free.

Overall, I would recommend Shish Cafe. We were able to get a table easily on a Friday night although we were asked if we had a reservation which may mean that this may not always be the case. The food was good and the waiter's attention to my needs meant that I was able to eat there safely. Although my portion was somewhat small, the diners around me had reasonable portions. The prices were reasonable and are comparable to other casual dining restaurants. Enjoy!