Friday, August 26, 2011

Samovar, August 26th 2011

I have been here a handful of times pre-food-restrictions. I've always enjoyed their menu, particularly their tea services, which run in the 20's but come with a nice assortment of odds and ends plus tea. Their cheese and fruit plate, with honey comb, was always one of my favorite things to order there. For your average diner, this place is a wonderful treat, although a bit expensive. But today I will review it from the perspective of someone dining with food allergies or restrictions.

Today, I already had lunch and mostly came in for the delicious soy Matcha shake. At $8 it's a bit expensive, and you don't get that much. But I was in the mood to spoil myself a little, and cheat from the Paleo diet (soy is a bean, not a caveman food item).

The Gluten-Free Nitty Gritty:

As an Asian cuisine spot, this has a lot of potential to be mostly dairy free and gluten free, but potential gluten traps like soy sauce.

I decided to get a snack too and looked over the food items. To my delight, they had a key on the bottom to indicate which items are vegan and gluten free! Scanning through for item marked with that beautiful g next it, I was sad to see there were only a few. Of those few, some had soy sauce. Great! This must mean they have gluten free soy sauce. As a Celiac, you have to be extra cautious, to the extent where I've read advice on calling and talking to the chef in advance, asking tons of questions, and leaving if you aren't satisfied. Being new to this, I'm taking some baby steps. I pretty much settled on the marinated portabello salad, but in case it was marinated in gluten free soy sauce, I wanted to make sure they had gluten free soy sauce. The waitress, however, did not know. She was nice enough to go ask the kitchen, and I overheard the person she asked, ask another person, who did confirm that they have gluten free soy sauce. I got the portabello salad, thinking that I should have asked specially about that. I did ask the waitress if the salad was already gluten free and she made some show of checking the key. Perhaps this is all very new, and she is learning. Ideally, she would know the answers to most of my gluten and allergy related questions already.

The Dairy-Free Deal

While mostly Asian based, there are some salads, sandwiches etc that come with dairy. They also have a v* marking, that shows that items can be made vegan. This wouldn't mostly be by making without adding cheese. There are plenty of exciting asian style items without dairy on the menu though!

The Paleo Low-Down

There are nice salad options, although most menu items are either sandwiches or grain based meals. Many items come with crackers, and probably wouldn't be too fun wit hot the crackers. Also, soy is of course abundant on the menu. The portabello salad was probably the only purely paleo item on the food menu. Of course, with the teas, you could get almost anything except the Genmaicha, which is a brown rice green tea drink. For a Paleo dieter, I would say mostly come here if you want to have tea. In that regards, they have a wide variety of very high quality teas. I recommend their Earl Grey. It is exquisitely Bergamot flavored.


Normal Dining Rating: 4/5 stars.

Minus a star for being a little pricey and pretentious without have whatever it takes (flavor, pizazz) to make it seem worth the price.

Food Allergy Dining Rating: 3/5 stars.

Minus a star for the waitress not have thorough knowledge of the gluten free options.


3/5 is high for the food allergy dining these days! There is must room for the restaurant industry to learn and grow with respect to the needs to food allergies. Restaurants are picking up on this; the change is happening now.

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