So the restaurant Alma de Cuba (or just "Alma", as the waitstaff call it), is packed with ambiance, and I wouldn't dream of using flash photography in a swanky place like this, so my apologies for not being able to convey a better pic of the yummy gluten-free dinner I had in celebration of my 50th birthday. I've wanted to eat at Alma since I met one of the chefs at the 2012 Appetite for Awareness event put on by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Alma is a Stephen Starr restaurant, and all of the Stephen Starr restaurants offer gluten-free options and have a solid knowledge of safe gluten-free handling procedures. It is so nice going to a place in which I can have complete confidence that the food I order will be delicious AND I will feel fine afterwards.
[Last year I opted to not blog about the aftermath of the dinner I had in a Midtown NY restaurant for my 49th birthday celebration. Suffice to say that despite my rigors in identifying a restaurant that could accommodate my gluten-free needs and my due diligence with the restaurant staff, I enjoyed the majority of a Broadway production afterwards from the bathroom and the lobby. Not pretty. At least I got a pretty good story out of the experience. Always gotta find the bright side, right?]
So, the quick Alma facts:
1. They have a gluten-free menu, though this link is a bit dated and not all of these items were on our gluten-free menu last week.
2. They bring gluten-free rolls (croquettas de arroz, actually) to the table, just like it's a regular thing. Love that!
3. The staff is friendly and not pretentious, which is always my worry in a restaurant where the entrees top $20. Our server was so charming as she waxed poetic about the chocolate flourless cake that we almost invited her to join us for dessert!
Jenn and I both had Gloria's Black Bean Soup to start, because really, can you go to a Cuban restaurant for the first time and not get the black bean soup? We also both had the spicy Crisp Rice and Black Lentil Cake with curried vegetable stew, carrot chimichuri, and chayote squash salad, with an additional side of carrots. For dessert we split the flourless chocolate cake and I had a Cafe Havana, a sweetened coffee with coconut milk. I loved the food! I ate it all! I was so full! And happy! I wouldn't have minded having a deeper selection of vegetarian options, but for y'all omnivores, there is a wide selection of yummy-sounding food. And when I go back, I'll feel a little more adventurous in ordering off the menu. Or as Jenn suggested, maybe we'll go back for dessert and coffee only -- a great way to get that Alma ambiance without dropping a full purse for the experience.
This was definitely a restaurant worthy of a 50th birthday celebration. Thanks Jenn! Thanks Alma de Cuba!