Do You Go Gluten Free? Try Magnolias... I Did

Claire O'Bryan

You may have seen my post a couple of weeks ago, What's the Hype with Gluten Free?  I don't practice the gluten free diet, but that doesn't mean it's not taking over the world. So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein. It is found in wheat, rye, barley and practically every processed food known to man. If it’s a carb, there’s a good chance that it contains gluten (unless it’s a potato or rice). Some people are gluten free simply because it makes them feel better, while others are gluten free because of a true allergy to this stuff. Eating a piece of wheat bread for a person with Celiac's Disease (a true, significant gluten allergy) I would imagine is the equivalent of a Kryptonite Sandwich. Not good. Gluten allergy is a serious issue. Read my previous post for more....   

Again, gluten free is EVERYWHERE these days—including Magnolia's. They've been doing a GF menu for a while now, and if it didn't say so at the top, you’d never know the difference!  It's as long as their regular menu, and includes items that I never realized would need to be modified to be gluten free.

Recently, my husband, Ed, and I went in and did a little tasting to see how things measured up, taste-wise. 

First, the waiter offered gluten free bread, so of course we tried it and compared it to the regular ciabatta bread.

As expected, the ciabatta bread was just better.  It was crustier and lighter, but hey—if you’re really sensitive to gluten then bread is kind of a treat, right?  The GF bread wasn’t bad, it was just drier and not crusty on the outside, more like a roll than anything.  But I was definitely impressed that they have a whole separate type of bread for those of you who really NEED gluten free.

For first courses we both got a salad. Ed tried the Wadmalaw Field Greens with a lingonberry vinaigrette and crumbled blue cheese. I had the Granny Smith Apple Salad with arugula, radicchio, toasted almonds, blue cheese, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Both salads were crisp and fresh, and the blue cheese was great. No tricky foods here for the ol' gluten free diet.

For his main course, Ed tried the waiter’s recommendation: Shellfish Over Grits. It’s amazingly flavorful: sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, and lobster over their creamy white grits, topped with a lobster butter sauce and fried spinach. DANG. I thought hard about how they could have modified this one and where the gluten was? Well, the dish is made from scratch and the roux has flour in it. Flour = gluten. WHO KNEW!?

I, of course, had the Fresh, Local and Vegetarian. 

This is a chef’s selection of the season’s freshest vegetables in an uptown/down south presentation. I can safely say it was everything I’d hoped for and more. This may sound dramatic, but I’m telling you these vegetables were that good. The parsnips melted in my mouth. Every vegetable had a different flavor profile, unlike a lot of vegetable plates that can kind of take on the salt/onion/garlic profile of everything else on the plate. I also wanted to try their Mac & Cheese, knowing that the noodles would have to be specially made to be gluten free. I will say... Ed's not a huge Mac & Cheese lover, but we took this bowl of cheesy goodness down like nobody's business. It. Was. GOOD.  

Finally, we asked what desserts would be offered to those that can’t have gluten, and our choices were a little limited but it didn’t really matter. The crème brulee came highly recommended, as our waiter was a “self-proclaimed connoisseur,” and it was the best one I’ve had in years. Obviously, the crunchy layer of sugar at the top is always delicious, but the custard underneath it is the kicker. Gluten free or not, this crème brulee is amaze.

I can’t wait to try the lunch menu, as the dinner menu was certainly a force to be reckoned with.