Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gluten Free Evansville, Indiana

We have amusement parks that are much closer to us than Holiday World. Santa Claus, Indiana is a day's drive away from us. Why would we choose to visit Holiday World? Because we met my sister's family there, of course!

The girls and I headed to the town of the big white bearded guy in the red suit, and we found a few delightful surprises along the way.

We planned to stay in Evansville, Indiana. I googled "gluten free Evansville" before our trip. I got a few solid hits, including a link to an Italian (yes, gluten free AND Italian) restaurant called Biaggi's and a fun beach themed restaurant called Cheeseburger in Paradise. There's a Chic Fil A down the street (they have a gluten free menu). And a Red Robin. Seems like there's lots of places friendly to the gluten free bunch in Evansville, Indiana.

Our *wonderful* waitress at Biaggi's was Jackie, and she held the REAL menu for me and posed for a photo for my blog: As she was setting a bread basket on our table, Jackie saw the GF menu and immediately asked if we were all GF and if having the bread basket there was okay. Seems like they get it. They have an entire gluten free menu - not just a sheet of paper with notes that tell you to order this or that without croutons or sauce. They serve gluten free pastas and pizzas - there were quite a few choices.
We ordered my special-diet girl a gluten free pepperoni pizza with no cheese.

The manager saw me taking pictures and came to chat. He's from the county where we now live. Small world. My special diet girl asked me to ask him for the recipe for the pizza, and he left to go get supplier info, and returned with it, handwritten, for me - amazing.

The service at Biaggi's was superb. I felt tired from the drive and completely underdressed for the restaurant, which is fancy and beautiful inside, although lot of customers were as casually dressed as I. I asked the hostess if we were dressed appropriately and without batting an eye, she put me at ease with a big smile, and said, "You're all just fine!!" while she motioned us with her arm to follow her to our table. Jackie is a wait staff extrordinairre - she is amazing. Our water glasses were never empty and we never had to ask for a refill. We were treated like VIPs.

For lunch the next day, my whole family (parents, sis's family, us), 10 of us, headed over to Cheeseburger in Paradise. They, too, have a gluten free menu that is not just a piece of paper - it looks like the other menus - but it contains the same information that restaurants who give you a piece of paper as a menu. It lists the burgers and reminds you to order without the bun, for example. Still, having a separate menu is one way to spotlight for the staff the fact that we're ordering something a particular way for a reason - it lets them know the importance of the gluten free +++ part. Judy was our waitress, and she was excellent, too, not quite as on top of the water situation at the table as Jackie at Biaggi's, but there were 10 of us at this table, not just three. The strawberry lemonade there - well, I've never described lemonade as "rich", but this one was rich! If you go to Cheeseburger in Paradise, consider ordering the strawberry lemonade!

And if you're considering a vacation that has GF+++ friendly options, Evansville is one place to look.


Anonymous said...

This is very incouraging!!! I am from Evansville, and have just started the GF diet, and am struggling...trying to find a support group that I can connect with, to help me better understand..thanks for posting the information..will help me to get started.

Penny said...

Anonymous, there are two health food stores in Evansville and a big grocery store that I was told carry lots of GF products. I talked to a woman at the pool in our hotel - she was at the hotel swimming with her sister who was visiting from Pennsylvania. Shnucks (sp?) was the big grocery store she mentioned. One of the health food stores was on Virginia Street and I don't remember the name. Ask around - seemed like there was a lot in "little" Evansville. ;)

Anonymous said...

Could I please have the recipe for this pizza crust! I too have had it, and it is amazing. They also served it to us in flat bread form to dip in the Parmesan and olive oil on my last visit. I have been searching all over for the recipe. I suppose I should have just asked :) Would you mind sharing?

Penny said...

The pizza crusts came pre-made from a supplier. It was not something I could get easily at the time and I have misplaced the notes he gave me in our cross country move. :(

The pasta was Tinkayda (sp?). I remember that.

Anonymous said...

Okay, thanks. They must serve a different crust at the restaurant near us. Thanks for responding quickly!

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