I love picking out restaurants. I love researching and reading about them – looking at menus and imagining how the best dishes will taste. I love the problem solving aspect of selecting just the right place. How many people are coming? Are there any vegetarians? Any other diet restrictions? What’s the budget? Day of week? Time of day? Where is everyone coming from? Where are they going afterwards? Is dessert essential? Is a wine pairing important? What kind of ambiance would be best?
I consider all of these factors and more when giving a list of places to family and friends who ask for recommendations. When selecting ‘gluten-free friendly’ places, I start with the menu – does it look like there are enough dishes that I could create some amalgamation of a pleasurable meal? Prune had been on my list of ‘places to try’ for quite some time. [note: I literally keep a list divided by neighborhood, lunch, wine bars, ‘potentially good Mexican food,’ etc.]
Before the end of the year, I was able to visit Prune, this long-standing East Village institution (in the NYC restaurant world, it seems like 5+ years is long enough to merit that designation). I met my friend Erika for an early dinner, trudging through sleet and rain to arrive in the warm arms of this snug and inviting restaurant tucked away on East 1st Street.
I had looked at the menu and seen enough dishes that piqued my interest to know I would not leave hungry. But imagine my surprise when I discovered that the ‘bread’ that Prune serves at every table is gluten-free! How could I have missed this in the gluten-free blogosphere? So it’s not bread exactly, it’s a papadum, which is an Indian-style cracker made with a mix of lentil, rice, gram flour and spices.
Another shock? By far the best things we ate that night was a cabbage side dish. The lamb sausages were savory, rich and a fine-example of homemade sausage, but the cabbage was absolutely magical. We were so impressed with the cabbage we implored the table next to us to order it as well. They concurred with our evaluation and thanked us for guiding them down the right path.
The other veggie side dishes were a little lackluster, the turnips and sweet cream butter were as odd a pair as it sounds. The cheese plate came through and ended the meal on a high note.
I never thought I would dream of cabbage, but I must get back to Prune before the weather thaws and a hearty dish of warm cabbage sounds too heavy.
Address: 54 E 1st St #1
New York, NY 10003
Is there a restaurant or bakery you want me to check-out? A product you want me to review? Any other questions or feedback?
glutenguide at gmail [dot] com