On Week 6 of the Elimination Diet, I decided to add nightshades back onto the menu so our long weekend in Kansas City, MO, wouldn’t be quite so difficult to negotiate culinarily. I was still avoiding gluten, dairy, and corn products, but being able to have pepper (oh, pepper!) along with tomatoes and potatoes felt like a whole new world of tastes opened back up to me. Happily, I suffered no ill effects, and have continued to eat nightshades since returning home.
We spent a beautiful, unseasonably warm November evening basking by the open fire on the patio of Gram & Dun in downtown KC. The moon glowed overhead, the firelight flickered, but in spite of the perfectly romantic ambiance, the menu still disappointed us. Adam’s single, enormous raviolo might have sated the appetite of a finicky mouse, but certainly wasn’t enough entree for a hungry athlete. We had scoped out the menu online ahead of time, and found few menu descriptions contained mention of my restricted allergens. However, when we arrived and I checked with the server, she produced a crumpled printout of the allergens in each of the dishes. Only one entree was free of both dairy and gluten: the flank steak with Green Goddess dressing and Yukon Gold potatoes. Bo-ring. In spite of the underwhelming meal, the charming ambiance and a very nice Malbec saved the evening for me. Alas, the poor Gent was compelled to scope out a sandwich shop so he could supplement his meager dinner on our way back to the hotel!
Our other dinner choices, happily, were all about the food. Our first night in town, we opted for a casual, relaxed dinner of pizza and beer at Waldo’s Pizza. If you go to Waldo’s, make reservations. We called ahead on our drive down to KC, and it was a wonderful feeling to get seated immediately while walk-in guests were lined up out the door.
We each ordered a personal-sized 10-12″ pie. I chose the gluten-free crust, which is made with tapioca starch, brown rice flour, and egg. The vegan mozzarella I opted for was not quite as flavorful or chewy as the real thing, but it tasted fine with my veggie-loaded selection of mushrooms, artichokes, black olives, and red onion with marinara sauce. The gluten-free beer I ordered sort of tasted like a Bud Light (blech — why bother?), but it sufficed to wash down the pizza. I hadn’t expected much from the realm of gluten-free beers, anyway. I was just so happy to be eating pizza and sipping beer again that I was in a happy haze. The Gent ordered the honey whole wheat pizza crust topped with pesto, smoked Gouda, chicken, and artichokes. This noisy, cozy, lively pizza parlor actually makes it easy to eat gluten- and dairy-free!
After our casual Friday, we treated ourselves to a shmancier Saturday night dinner out after Adam’s day of ultra-marathoning. On the recommendation of a friend originally from the area, we made reservation (do it!) at the Grand Street Cafe, which is tucked away on an unlikely-looking dark street that feels more like an alleyway. The lovely Art Deco interior appealed to us both, and, unlike the hipster gastropub we visited the following evening, the menu really delivered. While there was no special gluten-free menu, the chef was willing to work with diners to make individual dishes gluten-free. I ordered the Red Ruby Trout with oven-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, watercress, and a whole-grain mustard sauce, accompanied by a crisp dinner salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. The Gent ordered some kind of wonderful salmon which he enjoyed, but honestly, everything else was a blur once that trout dish was set in front of me. This was our best meal of the weekend, hands-down. (I can’t wait to recreate the mustard sauce at home. I think it would be equally delicious on fish or chicken, or for braising greens.) The next time we visit Kansas City, we will definitely make time to revisit the Grand Street Cafe!
So, the tasty verdict is in: with a little extra effort, you can find Kansas City eateries that are friendly to diners on gluten and dairy restricted diets, and that are also well worth the visit.