Hello fellow gluten free-ers! I traveled up to upstate NY with my mom for my wedding tasting, rehearsal dinner booking, venue tours, and my bridal hair and makeup trial (so much fun!!) this weekend. My good childhood friend lives in Rochester so we planned to meet up with her for brunch. She is well aware of me having celiac and did her research to come up with several places with gluten free options that were rated highly for celiac. I called each of the restaurants to personally figure out which I was most comfortable with and settled on the Mad Hatter Restaurant & Bakery, located at 176 S Goodman Street in Rochester, NY. When I called and inquired about gluten free options, the staff asked if I have celiac and proceeded to explain their protocols for preventing cross contamination. Knowing what celiac is and how to accommodate it is always a good sign 🙂
Atmosphere: This is an absolutely adorable restaurant that was the perfect choice for a girls day brunch. I can definitely see why Mad Hatter is known for its High Tea as it looks like it is straight out of Alice in Wonderland, the theme that is beautifully woven into details throughout the restaurant. From the menu option names to the decorations, the restaurant was welcoming and charming.
Menu & protocols for gluten free: The Menu is not labeled for easy identification of gluten free. This was the biggest complaint I had with this great restaurant. I had to communicate verbally for each item I was interested in without reference to labeled items. Good news: most of the menu can be made gluten free. Since most of their menu can be made gluten free, I’m not sure why “GF” couldn’t be added next to the items that are or can be made gluten free. I do hope that change that in the future! This would make it easier to sift through options and also prevents misidentification by staff. As a side note, the service was WONDERFUL. The staff (at least everyone I spoke with) was extremely knowledgeable of celiac disease. When I identified myself as someone with celiac, the staff discussed their separate kitchen equipment (pots, pans, utensils) and separated prep/cook areas. Every item I was interested in was double checked to assure gluten free status. The wait staff tells the chef whether you have a contact or non-contact dietary restriction/allergy, which helps differentiate between celiac and gluten free by choice. They have protocols for both.
Food: Mouth-watering perfection–that’s how I would describe it! I was very impressed with the quality and quantity of food—and all of my options!! I ordered the combo with gluten free French toast, ham, and 2 scrambled eggs. I also ordered a side of “The Queen’s Way” roasted potatoes, complete with salsa, sour cream, and ranch seasoning. The French toast was incredible—I can’t remember the last time I even had French toast. The portion size was on the larger size and the price was very reasonable. Because I didn’t know when I would eat my next meal as I had appointments booked all day and a 6 hour drive home, I ate until I was miserable (spoiler alert: my next meal was over 12 hours later…). Brunch kept me happy until about 8 hours later! As an aside, there did not appear to be many vegan options if you are vegan as well as gluten free. Many of the menu items had eggs and meat.
Dessert options: Mad Hatter does have an attached bakery, but as it is a shared bakery and shared display case, I was not comfortable eating any of the desserts. For someone who chooses to give up gluten, Mad Hatter offered about 3 desserts without gluten added.
Service: Everyone we encountered during our brunch was wonderful and helpful! Service was quick but not rushed by any means. The wait staff was attentive and happy to quadruple check anything I requested.
Reservations: No reservations are accepted for brunch/lunch, but reservations are accepted for High Tea (which we did not attend). Get there very early! We arrived at 9:30AM on a Saturday and had a 5 minute wait. Everyone after us had over 30+ minute wait. Staff informed me that 10AM-1PM are typically their busiest and the wait can easily be over 1 hour so plan accordingly. Additionally, you cannot be seated if your entire party is not present.
Would I return to the Mad Hatter? Yes, I would! If I find myself in Rochester, I would love to try Tea Time (not that I even drink tea, but I want to get dressed up and order more food…). Despite the major downside being the lack of labeling on the menu, I had a great brunch and the staff I spoke with were great with their understanding celiac.
Have you visited the Mad Hatter? What are your favorite restaurants in Rochester, NY?
**Please note that this review solely reflects my own honest opinion. I was neither paid nor compensated for my visit here. Also, kitchen protocols and menus can change at any time. Make sure to speak to the staff at any restaurant before eating to make sure that they can accommodate your dietary restriction.**