Sunday, October 24, 2004

GOODBYE, GUS! Yesterday I heard rumors that the Greenwich Village restaurant Gus's Place was closing. Tonight, at The Amateur Gourmet, I saw that the restaurant had already shut down. [As of February 1, 2007, Gus's Place had reopened on Bleecker by MacDougal; on March 9, 2007, GFRAP announced that it was back on the roster!]

Gus's Place was a West Village favorite. Locals counted on it for good Greek dining in an airy setting. But the restaurant has a very special place in the hearts and bellies of people on gluten-free diets. It was one of the first and finest restaurants participating in Westchester's Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP).

For gluten-free diners, a meal at Gus's Place usually started with a tasty spread served with warm gf bread, making it the rare restaurant where gf diners didn't have to wait, salivating, while their non-gf companions raided the bread basket.

Gus's Place was also restaurant where non-gf diners didn't feel that they were compromising on food quality. Some dishes were better than others--but it was, actually, a rare luxury to be able to choose favorites among the numerous gluten-free menu items.

Through trial-and-error, I developed my preference for ordering at Gus's: I'd choose a mix of appetizers, skipping the entrees. My favorite appetizers were the grilled octopus and the scallop salad. The avgolemono soup turned out to be a great comfort food, too. When I ordered wine, I usually went with a relatively inexpensive Greek red; in its last months, Gus's also served gf Passover Honey Lager beer from the Ramapo Valley Brewery--for fifty cents less than Risotteria charges. For dessert, there were several options--including a warm chocolate-hazelnut cake and fig and hazelnut ice creams (served on a large, crisp gf cookie). I'll miss them!

I understand that Gus's Place may open elsewhere at some point. I hope so. It'd be good to see Gus wandering the restaurant again, greeting his patrons.

In the meantime, GFRAP continues to seek celiac-friendly restaurateurs, volunteers to train them, and donations to help the group do its work. Consider supporting GFRAP in some way!

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