Thursday, March 6, 2014

Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar -- Winter Park

Last night, my husband and I had dinner at Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar in Winter Park.  My neighbor had told me about Carmel Cafe's gluten free menu about a month ago, and raved about the food.  I was especially excited that we had chosen to eat there after reading Celiac in Orlando's review, which you can see here.  

The gluten free menu can only be found on the iPads given to each table at Carmel Cafe.  At first, I was confused because I only saw a gluten free lunch menu, but the choices and prices were the same as the paper menu we had been given for dinner.  I love short ribs, so our first choice was easy.  

The braised short ribs were served with an olive tapenade and creamy polenta.  The short ribs were delicious, but the polenta was the star of the dish.  I could have eaten a whole bowl of it!  

My husband and I also shared the Citrus Grilled Salmon Salad, which is described as organic mixed greens, red & yellow beets, tomatoes, English cucumber, seasonal berries (strawberries), almonds, goat cheese crumbles, with orange thyme vinaigrette.  Not being a fan of goat cheese, I asked for feta instead.  When I received my salad, I really enjoyed the first few bites.  I loved the dressing and the kale that was part of the organic mixed greens.  When I lifted up my warm salmon, I noticed that a good amount of the cheese had melted on the greens and the bottom of the salmon.  When I tasted it, it tasted like goat cheese, so I asked our server if they would remake my salad because I thought I had mistakenly been given some goat cheese on my salad along with the feta.  In the end, I'm not sure if that was the case.  Their feta was very soft and very strong compared to the feta I am used to from Whole Foods and other restaurants.  If I ordered this salad again, I would ask for feta cheese on the side.

Some other menu items that are gluten free or can be modified to be gluten free include the edamame hummus, shrimp ceviche, rustic grilled chicken skewers, Moroccan lemon chicken, basil grilled salmon, and roasted vegetables.  I didn't take any pictures of the menu or write down choices from the gluten free menu like I usually do because we were having dinner with another couple that I had just met.  From reading Celiac in Orlando's review, I know you need to be cautious about fried items on the gluten free menu because they do not have a dedicated fryer.  I informed my server that I had Celiac, and she said that she would tell the kitchen so gloves would be changed and proper precautions taken to avoid cross contamination.

Overall, I was impressed with Carmel Cafe and would love to dine there again.  You can view their website and menu here.


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