Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gluten Free Menu at Zaftig's -- Going to a Jewish Deli and No Bagels?!

Before the celiac diagnosis, Zaftig's was always one of my favorite restaurants. When I was in college, my friends and I would take the C line out to Coolidge Corner, and wait 2 hours for brunch at Zaftig's in Brookline. It was always well worth the wait -- Jewish deli food has always been comfort food to me, and their brunch options are out of this world. The banana stuffed French toast... drooool.

After my husband and I bought our house in Natick a few years ago, Zaftig's fortuitously opened up a location near our home. Since it opened, we've probably eaten there dozens of times, and we never get sick of it. Their sandwiches are amazing, their latkes (especially the loaded latkes stack -- layered with chili, bacon and cheese, or smoked salmon and creme fraiche) are to die for, and their griddled banana bread with date butter is a sinfully delicious heart attack on a plate. I always ordered my gross-out sandwiches, like beef tongue, with the kickass potato salad and half sour pickle. But when I was diagnosed and could no longer eat gluten, the first thought I had was "No more smoked fish plates at Zaftig's!!" and I wanted to cry.

But Zaftig's once again comforted me, when I called and found out that they offer a dedicated gluten-free menu that takes cross contamination into consideration. The menu is obviously limited -- they don't yet offer gluten free bread and bagels, so the smoked fish plates are only available with just the fish. Not so alluring. But my beloved potato salad is gluten free, as is my favorite entree -- the stuffed cabbages with a tomato cranberry sauce. It normally comes with a slice of challah bread, but I substitute some potato salad instead, and I am thrilled.

Zaftig's can also do most of its omelets gluten-free, as well as its scrambles and breakfast sides. Sadly, the roast beef and roast turkey are both not gluten free, nor is Zaftig's amazing brisket. I'm guessing something with the rub or the vinegars they use probably include gluten. Sad. Doubly sad is that the latkes are contaminated with gluten. On the plus side, the celiac disease is limiting me from eating things like banana bread fried in butter and deep fried potato pancakes smothered in cheese, so at the very least, it's forcing me to eat healthier. The celiac is achieving what my mom's tried to do my entire life. Admittedly, I miss items like the latkes and Zaftig's bagels with cream cheese and their housemade gravlax. I didn't think I'd miss bagels so much, but I do.

But I can still get my stuffed cabbages with potato salad, and it's much better to focus on the delicious things I CAN have, rather than the delicious bad-for-you things that I can't have. I am grateful to Zaftig's for taking celiac sufferers into consideration, and making an easy to follow dedicated menu for us. Now how about some gluten-free bagels so I can still enjoy the gravlax...?

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