Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gluten Free Road Trip: A Second Bite of the Apple

With very few free weekends this spring and summer, the Gluten Free Philly crew decided to make their annual New York City jaunt on Mother's Day weekend. Unlike last year's trip (when we ran into the Phillies' Ryan Howard and his teammates in the hotel lobby), this one was more subdued.

We decided to avoid the bustle and stay downtown at the Andaz hotel on Wall Street. The Andaz brand is owned by Hyatt Hotels, and is the company's answer to the trendy W Hotels found in many a metropolis. It was a bit too quiet: I learned only a couple days before the trip that the subway line stopping closest to the hotel doesn't run on weekends, so we ended up taking a few more cab rides than anticipated.

The hotel, which opened in February, doesn't have a front desk. Instead, roving concierges welcome guests in the lobby and check them in via portable electronic devices. The same employees assist with baggage and provide information on local attractions. (Do they clean the rooms and cook meals, too?) The rooms are large by Manhattan standards and come stocked with free - yes, free - mini-bar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Our fridge had lots of soda and water, and Terra chips and chocolate bars were among the munchies.

We took a cab to Chelsea Market, an enclosed shopping mall and food court housed in a former Nabisco factory, and grabbed lunch inside at Friedman's Lunch before exploring the shops. The medium-well brisket burger my older son ordered was served alongside fries on a sesame-topped gluten-free bun from The Grainless Baker. (Another dining option in the area is Mario Batali's Del Posto, which serves gluten-free pasta.)

From there, we went back downtown to the South Street Seaport, where we took an hour-long cruise aboard the Zephyr to see the Statute of Liberty. Having never seen the statue this close in person, I was awestruck at the majesty of this American icon.

Risotteria has always been a favorite of ours, but we wanted to try a different restaurant for dinner. We decided on Pala, on the Lower East Side. For starters, the four of us shared arancini (risotto balls filled with spinach and mozzarella) in a light red sauce and potato along with an order of beet chips called patatini. My older son and I shared the gluten-free bufala cruda pizza, made with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato sauce and fresh basil. I'd recommend Pala for adults alone, but with kids Risotteria is the better choice, with more gluten-free options from start to finish.

We saved room for dessert, and burned off a few calories walking a few blocks north to the new Tu-lu's Gluten-Free Bakery. Since we arrived late in the day, the selection wasn't as varied but we loved the red velvet cupcake and the mini chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting.

On Mother's Day, we got an early start and ate at the hotel restaurant, Wall & Water, for breakfast. The kitchen prepared a three-egg Swiss cheese omelet, bacon and potatoes for my older son.

We then went uptown to the American Museum of Natural History, where the original Night at the Museum movie is set. Take note: The guards aren't anywhere near as funny as Ben Stiller. And they didn't seem to take well to being asked where the "characters" from the movie can be found. (There are a few, actually, including the Easter Island "talking" head and Dexter the capuchin monkey.)

Before heading home, we ordered lunch at Nice Matin, a French bistro one block east of the museum. The diverse gluten-free menu there included a grilled chicken sandwich that my son ordered.
Comment using:

No comments: