Gus's Place - Gluten-Free Pioneers

Gus' Place Montage, originally uploaded by A Gluten-Free Guide.

My virtual, and now real-life, friend, Sloane of Allergic Girl fame, recently wrote about having ‘Cheers’ experiences at restaurants. Being greeted warmly by familiar faces always lifts my spirits, but sometimes in a big city those experiences are few and far between. By having a few restaurants you patronize on a regular basis, you are more likely to have a ‘safe’ meal. Eating out is always risky but you can mitigate some of the risk by going to a regular stable of places. Aside from a safe meal, you may also have the opportunity to develop friendships with the server, manager or even the owner. If you are a regular reader, you know I have a pretty optimistic outlook on life, but cultivating the Cheers experience has been yet another blessing of my gluten-free lifestyle. Of course I wished I could eat the Chinese food at my brother’s wedding, and not have to worry about cross-contamination. I know it’s not easy, but I choose to focus on the positive and life-enriching aspects of Celiac.

Last weekend I had a great dinner at Gus’s Place on Bleecker street in the West Village. Gus’s restaurant is a small, warm space that makes me feel like I have stepped out of Manhattan and into a restaurant on a Mediterranean island. Truly, gluten-free pioneers, Gus’s Place was the first restaurant in NYC to participate in the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program. Their gluten-free options far outweigh their ‘glutenous’ ones.

Gus himself is almost always at the restaurant, full of cheer and a great love for people and food. With so many delicious options, you will need to eat a few meals there before you start to put a dent in all of the flavors they have to offer.

My favorite dish is a starter – the grilled octopus (we had to order two of these last weekend). It’s charred just right with big firm pieces that will convert even the most reticent seafood palate.

The grilled haloumi cheese is a Greek classic, one of the few cheeses that can withstand the heat of a grill without losing it’s form.

The mezedes plate gives a sampling of tastes – grilled lamb, lamb sausage, shrimp, stuffed grape leaves and tomatoes. My friend Mark declared it ‘the best lamb [he’d] ever had.”

The lamb sausage appetizer isn’t nearly as heavy as you might expect – it’s also surprisingly spicy.

I love the kalamata olive coulis on the pan roasted cod, and the filet just melts in your mouth.

The oven roasted feta, claypot chicken with polenta, ribeye with fries, and beet salad are just a few of the other gluten-free dishes.

And while they don’t make gluten-free pita, they do serve the amazing garlic feta spread with toasted gluten-free bread.

If you still have room for dessert after all of this excess, you can satiate your sweet tooth with crème brulee, flourless chocolate cake or Greek yogurt with honey and fruit. I’ve only made it to dessert once, but it didn’t disappoint.

Gus’s Place is full of memories of great food, friendly faces, warm greetings, and laughter. I hope you can make it there soon. Tell Gus I sent you.

Gus’s Place
Address: 192 Bleecker St, (at Macdougal St) New York 10012
Phone: 212-777-1660

This weekend I am looking forward to another ‘Cheers’ experience at Bistango. After dinner? My go-to spot is Pudding Stones. At home in CA, Carmines was our family restaurant. I haven’t been back since going gluten-free, but I still have great memories of the weekly meals. Do you have a favorite ‘Cheers’ experience?


CeliacChick said...

Did you order all of that food in one sitting?! Kim and I went there and took photos w/ Jennifer Romolini ...back in the the first one. We never got to publish the article because they closed down shortly after that. So great you gave them props for being the first gfrap in NYC!

Catherine said...

Didn't make it through all of that in one sitting, but I sure was tempted. ;) We did have to order two servings of the grilled octopus last week because it's just so good!