Monday, February 11, 2013

Deagan's Kitchen & Bar

I want to gush about Deagan’s for a bit. Or a lot. Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood, Ohio has long been on my list of must-visit places that are known for being gluten-free friendly in the good old CLE. I only regret that I waited this long to visit.

Saturday night, a friend and I made our way to Deagan’s for dinner. Busy, but we didn’t have to wait for a table, which was good as we’d both arrived with appetites.

Before I say anything else, I want to commend Deagan’s for their gluten-free service. Not only do they have an actual gluten-free menu (Hallelujah!), but their staff was knowledgeable and accommodating.  I believe our server’s name was Jen and she was fantastic. As soon as she saw the gluten-free menu in my hands (easily requested as we were seated) she was on point and ready with suggestions and a great attitude. I wish I could say this is a norm, but so often at restaurants, gluten-free diners (as well as those with other allergies and intolerances) are often seen as nuisance. To visit a restaurant where I could order safely and without needing to alter the menu items really made my day.

We started out with the polenta croutons.  I’m already a fan of polenta. It’s not the most common dish that my Italian-American family eats, but it is something that my grandmother and I will whip up for lunches or a quick dinner sometimes. I’ve had it baked, fried and boiled, but these polenta croutons have to be one of the best polenta-based I’ve ever eaten. Crispy cubes of polenta, smothered in mushrooms and parmesan? I am so in.

We also gave the marcona almond stuffed dates a try. Amazing, but so rich that one was plenty.

I am a sucker for red meat. I really am. Even when I know I should be ordering chicken or vegetarian meals, I find it so incredibly hard to resist a really good burger or steak. So, when I saw a steak on the specials menu and the server checked on gluten-free options without even being asked...? Yes, that totally happened. Now, the steak was great. It really was. Perfectly cooked (surprisingly hard to find), delicious and tender.  It was also gigantic and was taken home and played a starring role in lunch today.

But the star of the main course show? The Brussels sprouts. I know. Brussels sprouts? The star of the show? Really and truly, my friends. The Brussels sprouts.  The original steak special came with a gluten-filled strudel, so I substituted with a side of shaved Brussels sprouts with bacon, walnuts, and bleu cheese. Dear god, these things are amazing.  No words can describe how pleasantly surprised I was.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist the Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée. While I hesitate to use the term “mind-blowing” as a descriptor, it really is the closest word I could find to do this justice.  Simple, but phenomenal. It was plated with a vanilla syrup on one side, a tart raspberry sauce on the other, and fresh berries.

Between all this delicious food, the great company (laughs with friends make everything better), and my standard Manhattan, it made for one of the best meals and nights I’ve had in a long time.

Thanks, Deagan’s for making the night so fantastic. And thanks to our server for being awesome. I’m sorry it took me so long to finally make it over there, but you definitely have a fan now!

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