Sunday, October 23, 2011

bj's restaurant & brewhouse

A few days ago, Scott & I had a fun date night at BJ's Brewhouse.  We'd seen their gluten free menu at an event earlier this year with the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group but hadn't given ourselves the chance to check it out.  The regular menu is HUGE; the gluten free options are plentiful, as well. Straight from the menu: "BJ’s is an active participant in the GFRAP (Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program) sponsored by GIG."  GIG is the Gluten Intolerance Group and an excellent resource for folks.

I got ridiculously excited when I saw a new-to-me item on the drink menu: gluten free berry burst cider.  The server suggested it for those who like wine, as it's rather sweet.  Since I want to like wine, I took the challenge. 

The pink hue (although not obvious in this dark photo) surprised me a little.  I was thinking it would be more like the ciders from Strongbow or Woodchuck, but it was gooooood.  It's light and spritzy.  To me, the flavor is a mix of strawberry and raspberry with a hint of blueberry. 

The drink is so tasty, Scott decided to buy me a $14 growler before we left.  What a bargain!  1 glass by itself is about $5, and the growler easily holds 5 or 6 servings.  Plus, when we refill, we'll get a discounted price for already having the jug.

As I looked over the rest of the menu, I was indecisive.  I'd heard wonderful things about their thin-crust gluten free pizza, but I couldn't fight my skepticism.  Pre-diagnosis, pizza was hands-down my favorite food.  I would eat it 3 times a week or more.  However, over the last two years since going gluten free, I just haven't craved it like I used to.  I'm becoming more accustomed to the flavor of gluten free crust, but it's still not enough to reclaim the spot it had on Friday nights on the weekly menu.  For local options, Uno Chicago Grill and Donato's have yummy thin crust and no dough pizzas, respectively, and Udi's and Kinnikinnick have nice frozen crusts.  If you're EVER near Waverly, make sure to try the gluten free option at Lloyd's Pizzeria.  I've been dreaming of it - quite literally - since trying it last month after it was recommended by my dear friends Maran & J.P.  Scott has also declared it his favorite.  (I'll definitely enjoy some this weekend when I'm home to celebrate my birthday.)

Since I wasn't sure how much I would truly enjoy the pizza at BJ's, I decided to order two meals: a thin-crust pepperoni & tomato pizza and a grilled chicken giant stuffed potato.  I was pleased to read that all pizza toppings - with the exception of the meatballs - are gluten free.  Although gluten free crust options are becoming more available, it's rare for most pizza locations to be willing to state that the toppings are gluten free as well. 

Both were delicious.  The 10 inch pizza has an herby crust, which wasn't Scott's favorite since he got a bitter taste of anise.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  BJ's is now my second favorite gluten free pizza place.

Scott had gotten a deep dish pizza.  It must have been tasty - he'd eaten half before it crossed my mind to take a photo of it. 
The 8 inch potato was truly giant, filled with grilled chicken breast & steamed broccoli then topped with melty jack & cheddar cheeses.  Please note: for gluten free, you must order without Alfredo sauce.

This potato was so big that a passerby stared at it and remarked, "That's a HUGE potato!"  I'd just said the same thing.

The items were so delectable, I ate half the pizza and 1/4 of the potato.  Another plus: the leftover pizza and potato each reheated well for lunch the next two days.
The server easily talked me into trying the new Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pizookie - a 4 inch wide deep-dish chocolate chip cookie topped with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and served with two spoons for us to share.  Hot and fresh out of the oven. the soft cookie was cake-like and delicious with the melting ice cream. 

When eating gluten free baked goods, I half expect a graininess.  I'm happy to report, neither the pizza nor the Pizookie had this unappetizing quality.  They were smooth and heavenly.

I am officially a fan of BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse and cannot wait to take friends & family there.

BJ's Restaurant and Brew House on Urbanspoon

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