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Picholine And Kyclades - Thumbs Up

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Holiday dining update-

I had 2 successful dining experiences in the last week in NYC.

BIG thumbs up at Picholine, a highly-rated (Zagat 27/24/25, $87) and very pricey restaurant (2 coursed, $65, 3 courses, $85) on upper West Side near Lincoln Center.

Made a reservation, called later to say "one gluten-free diner" - got the usual 'okay, and tell the server' type response (meaning they are not gluten-free oriented in any way). Server, Rochelle, was wonderful - half way through the meal she explained her sister is celiac!!

At each step, Rochelle was completely in control - she explained which items could not be gluten-free (about 4 out of 16 choices) and asked if she wasn't sure about something (eg faro with the game, I said "no", kitchen omitted & instead got extra roasted veggies). With the amuse buche, she appeared at my shoulder to explain the custard was gluten-free. With the petit fours after, she whispered "only the fruit gelee is gluten free on the cookie tray, but all the chocolates are gluten free". For the cheese course (their specialty), the server (once I explained) pointed out the 2 cheeses that were beer-washed (I avoided all the blue choices).

And, proof to the pudding, I was not glutened!!

So, ask for Rochelle :) PS next table was milk-free, and apparently were regulars - they were also able to get adjusted preparations to meet their needs, so kitchen seems to be able to deal with allergies very well.

Gluten-free dining also worked okay at Taverna Kyclades, greek seafood restaurant in Astoria Queens (Zagat 25/12/18, $32)

Went for lunch yesterday (no reservation), explained no wheat/barley/rye or anything related.

Upshot - had to be vigilant, but worked fine.

1-anything fried is glutened, but virtually all the fish selections are available grilled (even if the menu only says fried). This is wonderful mediterranean olive oil with fresh oregano type grilled, not my-mothers-dry-as-cardboard grilled

2-the sagonaki is breaded (or at least dusted with something)

3-the 3 spreads in the starter spread plate (tsatsiki, taramosalata and skordalia) were all gluten free, just use a spoon and avoid CC from the pita everyone else is using with them. (They DO come with one serving spoon each, hooray)

4-most primary servers have excellent language skills, some of the table-clearer types less so, so direct your gluten questions to someone who you feel comfortable communicating with

PS on Zagat - it's the poll-based restaurant (and now, more) rating service. perfect score=30, anything above 20 is very good (and above 25 is extraordinary). scores are food/decor/service, then average price for one person eating 3 courses at dinner without beverages.

Tonight we go to Pylos in the East Village for the first time since I've gone gluten-free, I'll report on that (eventually).

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