Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant – Gluten Free Review

Mon Ami Gabi

photo from website

This review originally ran in October 2009.  I’ve since been back many times.  They have a complete gluten free menu but when it comes to gluten and dairy free your options a little less.  I often find this a hit or miss place lately.  When it’s a hit I really enjoy it.

The other night I tried a new restaurant in the Reston Town Center, Mon Ami Gabi.  I wanted to see if I could get a good gluten free and dairy free dinner close to home.  Mon Ami Gabi is a Classic French Bistro that features everything from crepes and quiche , escargots, salads, sandwiches, seafood and their signature dishes of Onion Soup Au Gratin, Trout Grenobloise, Steak Frites with six sauces and Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.  At first glance many would think I would be hard pressed to get a good meal and not receive gluten or dairy.

Note:  eat where they make their dishes with single ingredient foods.  It makes it easier for them to adapt what would typically not be gluten and dairy free.

I’ll start off with the punch line.  The meal was really good, the service was amazing and I’m happy to say we’ve found a new go to restaurant.  They offer private and semi-private dining for groups of 10-250 and I would feel comfortable having a party there with a group of fellow gluten free and dairy free diners.

First let me tell you about the service.  Of course the food has to be good, but if you are eating out with special dietary needs, you need to know you are understood and will be taken care of so you don’t get sick.  I started by emailing the person listed on their website.  I usually do this ahead of time but this was a last minute reservation my wonderful husband made for the next day.  I emailed in the evening and the next morning I had a reply.  It was not here’s what we can or can’t do email.  It was “I would be very happy to discuss menu options with you.  Please let me know a convenient time and number to call you.”  And Susan Weaver gave me her cell phone number so I could reach her.

So far really good.  I replied and a little later in the day she called me.  We had a great conversation about possibilities for me, but I had forgotten to share about Scott’s possibilities.  Hmm, what would they do with that?  OK, this is going really well.  I didn’t get the typical we can’t, you can’t, you’ll only be able to have ….  She happened to be out of town and called back to the restaurant to talk with the chef and manager letting them we were dining there that evening.

Note:  If you can give a restaurant advance notice, early before they start their prep of the food for the day, you will have a lot more options to eat.

When we arrived the hostess already knew of our needs as well as the server- Clinton, the manager- Tom Roche and the kitchen.  Mon Ami Gabi uses a pink system.  That means when anyone is dining with food sensitivity or allergies, their slip is highlighted in pink, and the orders are printed on pink paper so everyone knows to pay special attention.   Now there’s a good idea.

The manager came over and introduced himself and reinforced that our needs would be well taken care of.  We talked about Scott’s choice and then came a surprise.  The chef had made a separate pot of oil to make our hand cut Frites (what french fries are called in french) to keep them safe from cross contamination.  I was blown away.

But wait, it gets even better.  Scott’s fish had an aioli that was made with a mayonnaise that they were unsure if it was gluten free or not.  The manager went online and was researching it through gluten free websites and list serves.  I have never, in my 3 years of eating out gluten free, ever encountered a restaurant that would take the time to research an ingredient on the spot to make sure it didn’t contain gluten.  I’m sure it didn’t take long to do, I do it all the time.  But the fact that they cared enough about 2 people in their crowded restaurant to make the effort for our meal was amazing.  We were not a problem, but welcomed guests.  How often do you get that eating out gluten free?  Now I feel like I can go back and try more items on the menu, and they will verify they are safe as well.  A big thank you!

Now what about the food.  We both had a Frisee & Bacon Salad with a Soft Poached Egg.  It was really good.  You’ll be seeing that on The W.H.O.L.E. Gang sometime soon.  Scott had a halibut dish served over apples, potatoes and a few other vegetables.  They made a special sauce to go with it because they could not verify the ingredient in the one that was being served with this dish.  Scott said it was really good, especially with that sauce.

I had the Steak Au Poivre with those hand cut Frites.  It was great.  It was so good I totally forgot to take a picture so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  I loved the green peppercorns on top and the steak was cooked exactly as I requested.  We even ordered an extra serving of frites to take home.  I’ll be having those for lunch today!

Mon Ami Gabi is a definite Go Back restaurant.  In addition to the Virginia location, they have restaurants in Chicago, Oak Brooks IL, Las Vegas and Bethesda MD.  As I was researching the restaurant, I see that they are owned by Lettuce Entertain You.   This group has 37 other restaurants.  I hope that the practices that they have in place at Mon Ami Gabi are the same across the board.  I think I’ll have to start to visit them too and check it out.

If you have eaten here I would love to hear your experience.

Disclaimer:  The reviews I post are my opinion and based on my experience. Just because I have a certain experience does not insure you will have the same experience. I cannot guarantee any meal anywhere, except in my own kitchen. Please eat out at your own risk.

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