Celiac Restaurant Blogging Chronicles-Tavola Restaurant and Tapas Bar
I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite some time but I have been to a few as of late! Most recently I ate with some friends at Tavola. It’s a quaint little restaurant located on Water Street in St. John’s. Previously, I had heard great reviews about the establishment when it came to providing safe and delicious options for Celiac customers. Well…they were right! I had a super fantastic experience there and neither myself nor my husband (who also has Celiac) became ill!
So the one thing I have learned first and foremost from my experience at the Merchant Tavern (review to come soon), and now Tavola is that it is certainly beneficial to call beforehand. In my head I had struggled with this. Restaurants should be able to provide a gluten free meal to any patron and I shouldn’t have to call ahead to confirm, even if they advertise they have a gluten-free, gluten-friendly, gluten-wise menu. WRONG. Due to the masses of people who are “gluten-free” and trendy, restaurants are providing tons of gluten free options but they can’t always guarantee there is no cross contamination. For example, fries are gluten free because potatoes are BUT if they are deep fried than they are contaminated with other foods (if the restaurant doesn’t have a designated gluten free fryer). Getting back to the point…it is always best to call a week before, and even again the day before. Restaurants take you seriously this way and they will also make a special effort because they know you are truly concerned and not just another “trendy”.
I called Tavola to make a reservation a few days before the actual date and asked them if they could provide gluten free meals and how their kitchen was with the issue of cross-contamination. The lady who answered the phone informed me they took special care and could provide a delicious meal. I breathed a sigh of relief. Perfect…a new spot…there isn’t many in St. John’s.
When we arrived at the restaurant the waitress sat us at our table and proceeded to ask about which members of our party had Celiac (she was prepared!). She was very informative when it came to the menu and even visited the kitchen several times to ask the Chef specific questions. Spoiler alert, their sausages and meat balls are made in house with no fillers and are gluten free!!!
So what did we order? To start we had Pan Seared Scallops, minus the pecans which could have been cross contaminated. They were delicious! For the main we had Halibut on a bed of Bean cassoulet which was a delectable combination of beans, sausage and sauce. When the waitress placed the meal in front of me I was super excited until I saw the sausages mixed in with the beans. I had already taken a mouth full so I had a moment of sheer panic and a flash back to my horrible experience at the Yellow Belly. I immediately flagged down the waitress who quickly rushed back to the kitchen to confirm that the sausage was gluten free. When she returned she was smiling and assured me that the sausage was made in house and that there were no gluten containing fillers. She quickly put me at ease and explained that she could tell I was quite concerned and if I had any other questions to please let her know. I ate the rest of my meal in peace and enjoyed every last morsel…I almost licked the plate! I was finishing the last bite when the waitress returned and asked if we would like dessert….I was thinking to myself…this meal has been too fantastic for there to also be a gluten free dessert option. Well…there was! On the menu, one mouth-watering chocolate plate option which the waitress stated was made in house. Our order took a little longer to come out but when it did the waitress informed me that initially the truffles had been rolled in icing sugar. While most icing sugar is gluten free she further explained that their icing sugar is exposed to the air and she was worried about cross contamination so she had got them to remake the truffles without the icing sugar. BONUS POINTS!
I was so super impressed that she took initiative and that all the staff was so well informed! I had a really enjoyable, stress-free dining experience at Tavola and I will definitely head back there in the future. I give it 2 whopping thumbs up and would give it more if I had them….is it too disgusting to mention toes in a food blog?! Just kidding!
Happy eating at Tavola everyone! And keep up the fantastic work Tavola!
Adrianna Smallwood, The Newfie Celiac Dietitian