Hi everyone! Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the Charlottesville, VA gluten free restaurant reviews (sorry!!) but I am catching up now!! So there will several posts in the next few weeks about all of the new places I have tried.
First up…Oakhart Social, located at 511 West Main Street. Oakhart Social has a selection of small dishes that are meant to be shared between individuals (think tapas). I went here in May 2016 for a dinner with students and faculty. When I found out that this dinner meeting would be held at Oakhart Social, I immediately Facebook messaged the restaurant to check on their gluten free status (they were closed for a special event when I called so I figured I would at least message). The staff promptly replied and told me that many of their dishes are naturally gluten free or could be accommodated to be gluten free. They asked for when my reservation was so that they could put a note on the file.
When the dinner meeting rolled around and I arrived at the restaurant, I spoke with the server to explain my dietary restriction, telling them that I have a gluten allergy (yes, celiac is an autoimmune disease BUT I have learned that many restaurants do not understand the severity and when allergy is used, they make sure that the dish is indeed gluten free) and need measures to be taken to prevent cross contamination (AKA no shared surfaces, change of gloves/washes hands, etc). The server went through all of the menu items with me and told me which menu items could be made gluten free. The majority really could be gluten free which made me happy! I do wish that they marked their menu items to differentiate between what could and could not be
made gluten free. This would be much more convenient and make me stick out less like a sore thumb in a group—conversation immediately turned to celiac of course. To name a few of the things that could not be made gluten free..I could not have anything fried (so no fried octopus), no grits, and no pizza. However, I was able to try the hanger steak (delicious!), charred carrots, and other dishes. The server, knowing I could not have gluten, modified many of the dishes to be gluten free so that the table could share and I could take part in the experience. I was able to have the burrata dish without the crumbs. Unfortunately, I either had to grab my portion off the plate first or just not eat any of the food because people would use their utensils to scoop off the plate…after their utensils touched gluten. This was really inconvenient but not the fault of the restaurant since this is just the side effect of having tapas styled meals. Luckily, I ordered my own hanger steak for myself. Portion was ver small but quality was excellent. I was still hungry so I ordered dessert. I had two options for dessert that were gluten free: a molasses ice cream or fruit sorbet with fruit and shaved chocolate. I went with the fruit sorbet and was not disappointed.
I very much appreciated how attentive the staff was and how often they double checked with the
kitchen on the gluten free status. I was impressed that every time our server came to our table, she would clearly announce whether the dish was gluten free or not so I knew if I could eat it. She would even say if it was modified or naturally gluten free so I would know for future reference. If you are going with friends/family who understand celiac and would only order gluten free, Oakhart Social would offer a unique dining experience. However, I would not recommend the restaurant for large gatherings with gluten eaters as the portions are much too small to just order one for yourself (and too expensive to order enough to be full) and you would have to spend your meal stressing about cross contamination as I did—again, no fault to the restaurant, just the style of eating! Restaurant I would give a high rating for understanding and being able to accommodate gluten free. Experience, on the other hand, is not suited for a mixed group of gluten eaters and gluten free individuals.
Have you tried Oakhart Social? If so, what is your experience?
Have a great weekend gluten free-ers! 🙂