Friday, January 4, 2013
Turner Fisheries: Gluten Free Dinner
Fortunately, a number of local restaurants now offer gluten-free menus and a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association named Gluten Free Cuisine as one of the top ten trends for 2013. I recently dined at Turner Fisheries (as a media guest) to assess their gluten-free menu. I don't have a gluten allergy but was curious as to whether the various dishes would still possess compelling flavors, or if their gluten-free nature would diminish the taste. What would be the effect of the substituted ingredients? Someone with a gluten allergy might not be able to enjoy battered fish and chips but that doesn't mean they don't have other delicious options.
What are the differences between the Turner's regular menu and gluten-free menu? In fact, many of the dishes are similar with minor adjustments for gluten free. First, the two Soups are similar. Second, there are two less Starters, the Crispy Calamari and Jonah Crab Cake. Third, the three Salads are similar. Fourth, there is one less Starter, the Taylor Bay Scallop Meuniere. Fifth, there is one less Turner's Classics, the Baked Long-Line Scrod. Sixth, all of the Sides are similar. Seventh, only three of the six Dessert options are available gluten free, including Mocha Creme Brulee, Hot Chocolate Peppermint Semifreddo Float and Sorbet/Gelato.
As can be seen, there is little on the menu which cannot be prepared gluten-free except for the Dessert category. That might be an area where other restaurants also see a challenge and if so, it is an area where they need to create more tantalizing options. I have eaten gluten free cookies, brownies and other similar treats and if done well, they can be quite tasty and you would not even know they were gluten free.
Chef Armand Toutaint prepared a variety of seafood preparations for our dinner, showcasing just some of the possibilities of a gluten-free menu. He also came to our table to discuss the menu and answer our questions. Based on some prior research I did, there appears to be a potential issue of farmed fish being given feed that contains gluten. Some claim that such seafood can be tainted and cause problems to those with gluten allergies while others allege it is not the case. Chef Toutaint didn't know much about the issue and it might be an area that needs more study. If anyone knows more about this matter, I would like to hear about it.
As for the other dishes, the Scallop was perfectly seared with a tasty and lightly sweet reduction, as well as a crisp plantain chip. It was my second favorite of the four. The briny oyster was covered by a flavorful cream with hints of umami from the mushrooms. As I am not a fan of beets, I didn't eat the Beet Carpaccio but those who like beets seemed to greatly enjoy that preparation.
Overall, Turner Fisheries has crafted an impressive gluten free menu and the savory items should satisfy most any craving. The dishes do not lack in taste in any way and are as creative as anything on the regular menu. I would like to see more unique gluten free dessert options but with all of the savory options, you might not have room for dessert anyways.