In late September my boyfriend and I were in the USA for two weeks, primarily for my sister’s wedding but also for a holiday. During that time we spent just over 24 hours in Boston to visit one of my oldest friends from school. 24 hours didn’t give me huge amounts of time to explore Boston’s gluten free options but I was determined to give it my best shot. Luckily I’d been given great recommendations (which I’ve listed at the end) so I knew that I should be eating well.
One of the repeat recommendations I got was for The Elephant Walk, a French/Cambodian restaurant. There are two of them in the Boston area, one in Cambridge and the other in the South End, was the one we went to. My non-coeliac friend had been before and recommended it too, which is always a great sign.
The gluten free options were listed right on the menu, which always makes me feel better (though I always mention the coeliac disease as well). The three of us shared two gluten free starters, the Nataing and the Salade Cambodgienne. The Nataing was a ground pork dish served with rice, and the salad included chicken and shredded vegetables. As you can see from the photos, either of them could have been a main in their own right.
For my main I had the Poulet a la Citronelle, which was a peanutty curry quite similar to a satay. All three of the dishes I tried were really fresh and tasty. All five of the dessert options were or could be modified to be gluten free, but I resisted because I was already pretty full and I knew there was a dessert treat waiting for me two doors down…
Before we went to The Elephant Walk, we’d gone into The Gallows bar for some pre-dinner drinks. My friend had been waxing lyrical about their dessert: the ‘Stoners Delight’, made up of banana, chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and bruleed marshmallow fluff. Imagine my excitement when I looked at the menu and saw the ‘gf’ beside this delight! So after dinner we obviously had to go back and order it.
Although the bar had been quite empty during our pre-dinner excursion (probably because we showed up 2 minutes before they opened and left after one drink), it was packed when we got back an hour later. Luckily they had one table left, but it was in their darkened dining area. So my photos of the awesome dessert are not as good as I would have liked. But you can all imagine how tasty it was. My boyfriend, unaccountably, does not like peanut butter so my friend and I shared the dessert. It was delicious, although I think my sugar rushed lasted for about 3 days. Not helped by everything I ate the next day.
The next morning we started the day with breakfast at The Friendly Toast in Back Bay. This was a very cute diner doing an very large selection of tasty-sounding food. But there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity for gluten free pancakes. So I ordered two banana pancakes, which turned out to be the size of my head. Or probably larger. Though luckily the fresh banana was very present, so I at least felt slightly like I was eating fruit.
We then walked the Freedom Trail, with a quick stop into Uniqlo at Faneuil Hall because the weather had dropped about 15 degrees celcius since we’d arrived in the USA, and neither of us had brought more than a cardigan. So some new fleece-lined hoodies were in order! We then decided that the only thing even more necessary to warm us up was donuts. Amazingly enough, I can’t resist a gluten free donut either. And Kane’s Donuts are famous for their regular donuts, so had to be worth a slight detour.
There were three types of gluten free donuts on the day we went: chocolate, vanilla and pumpkin spice. The donuts are made and fried separately, and were kept on their own stand. I could even see that the three trays of gluten free donuts waiting to be put out were kept on a separate tray rack from the regular ones. I tried the pumpkin spice and the chocolate donuts, though I did keep the chocolate one for breakfast the next day. And they were some of the best donuts I’ve ever had, and definitely the best since I’ve was diagnosed with coeliac disease. If you are in Boston, GO TRY THE DONUTS.
We were meant to eat lunch in the North End, further along the Freedom Trail and home to a number of Italian restaurants that were recommended to me (see below). However, as you can imagine, after all this sugar we decided that maybe we didn’t need a big pasta lunch. So we went to Boston Public Market instead, where we meant to go to pick up food for dinner on the train home anyway.
Boston Public Market has only been open since 2015, and has around 40 vendors providing produce and food from the New England area. This includes prepared food, farm stands, butchers and specialty products. And, luckily for us coeliacs, lots of it is gluten free.
The most obvious gluten free stall is Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery, which specialises in allergy-free food. Unfortunately we arrived a bit late for lunch, just after they’d stopped serving their paninis for the day. And I felt I’d had more than enough sugar for a few weeks, so resisted any of their baked goods. But it all looked interesting and worth a look if you’re in the area.
For lunch I instead went for some latkes from Inna’s Kitchen, a Jewish cafe and bakery with a large selection of gluten free options. They serve a more limited selection at the market cafe (they have another location in Newton Centre), but there were lots of tasty things. Even gluten free knishes to take away.
Many of the speciality producers’ goods were gluten free. We bought some charcuterie and cheese for the train home, and I was sorely tempted by Q’s Nuts. Nuts can often be subject to cross contamination so it was great to see one proudly stating its gluten free-ness (though I somehow forgot to take a photo).
Obviously, 24 hours was not enough time to eat everything I wanted to in Boston. Lots of people gave me more recommendations for my trip, so thank you very much to Gluten Free Jessica, gfreeguru, lovethingsgf and happywombelle . I’m including a list of those recommendations below in case they’re useful to anyone else!
Bostonia Public House
(The following recommendations are from lovethingsgf, who is gluten sensitive but not a celiac. She says that most of these are good about cross contamination but I didn’t try any of them and would recommend that celiacs contact the restaurants and take the usual precautions)