After meeting my friend Kris in London last year, he has accompanied me on many gluten-free dining excursions across the U.S. – Risotteria and a cookie party in NY, MF Sushi in Atlanta, and El Cholo in Santa Monica. His first attempt at picking a restaurant without my input led to an incredible gluten-free dinner at Chaya Venice. As embarrassing as it was for this native SoCal girl to be shown around California by a European, all pride was forgotten when the food arrived.
We both ordered the scallops wrapped in sirloin strips served with a grain mustard sauce. The sauce is usually thickened with a touch of flour so to ensure that there was no mix-up the server had the chef prepare both dishes without the gluten-based thickener. Kris was kind enough to oblige – he has said on more than one occasion “you don’t even miss the gluten” (with a note of surprise in his voice).
To finish, I opted for a simple cheese plate that included manchego, St. Andre, queso blanco (a fresh Mexican cheese), and fresh fruit. Much to Kris’s chagrin I didn’t let the server bring the bread that normally accompanies the dessert. But after going to my cheese course at Artisanal, and learning that bread is merely viewed as a palate cleanser, I didn’t feel obligated to include it and risk contamination.
Chaya’s décor is chic yet comfortable. I didn’t feel any of the “too cool” attitude I sometimes experience in LA. A remarkable meal is one that you remember long afterwards. I have no doubt that I will continue to mark this dinner among those most memorable.
Chaya Venice: Address: 110 Navy St Venice, CA 90291 Phone: (310) 396-1179