Two Gluten-Free Restaurant Extremes – The Café at Country and Back 40

tomatoes and oranges

Two recent dates led me to two new restaurants. While the food was great at both and everything was gluten-free, they exhibited opposite extremes of service and ambiance available in the NY dining scene.

Dinner at Back 40, the more casual East Village sister to Savoy Restaurant in Soho, was such a refreshing gluten-free dining experience. I presented my Triumph dining card, the server consulted with the chef and we were able to enjoy a perfect meal, including a shaved fennel salad, two types of grilled fish, one with a cilantro salsa verde and a second garnished with fresh grilled ramps. Sides included sauteed rapini with garlic, mushrooms with thyme and shallots, and a third side of cheesy potato goodness. Three different servers assisted us, all with grace and ease. At the end of the meal, one of the servers even thanked me for bringing in the dining card because it was so helpful to the chef in creating a ‘safe’ and delicious meal.

The service at Back 40 was in stark contrast to a recent dinner I had a Michelin-starred restaurant. I had to work with multiple servers to explain what I needed and my Triumph dining card was lost, with no offer to make up for their error. When my date suggested The Café at Country, a fine dining establishment in the more sterile Midtown East neighborhood I was excited to experience another Michelin-starred dinner. The food was fantastic, but the service did not live up to their reputation or their prices ($18-20 for one glass of wine??) Sizzling shrimp scampi with lemon brulee, a subtle fresh seared fish preparation and rich potato puree were all gluten-free. I savored every last bite, clearing my plate (also ignoring the antiquated advice I was given as a girl about how to behave on a date). I wouldn’t go back on a busy weekend night but on a slower weekday, the food and numerous gluten-free options make it worth revisiting.

Back 40

190 Avenue B, At 12th St, NY, NY 10009

Phone: 212-388-1990

The Cafe at Country

90 Madison Ave, at 29th St, NY, NY 10016

Phone:  212-889-7100

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Jackie said,

May 10, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

18 to 20 for a glass of wine??? OUCH! Otherwise that sounds like a nice place, though.

» Gluten Free Restaurants NYC – Annisa and Savoy | A Gluten Free Guide said,

October 25, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

[...] for lunch though, the menu is still great and very affordable – more along the lines of sister restaurant Back 40 in the East Village. Both restaurants were very accommodating and knowledgeable about gluten-free dining needs. They [...]

» Wine and Food - a perfect pair at Terroir in NYC | A Gluten Free Guide said,

May 1, 2009 @ 11:35 pm

[...] down the street from S’mac and Back 40, a few blocks away from Prune and Knife + Fork – the culinary call of the East Village is [...]

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