Friday, October 20, 2006


The good news about the 2007 Zagat restaurant survey for New York City is that the reviewer comments actually acknowledge the existence of gluten-free food. Risotteria "sets the standard for gluten-free dining" and Sambuca "also offers a gluten-free menu - 'is that an oxymoron for Italian?'"

It's too bad, though, that the guide doesn't acknowledge gluten-free food in its Cuisines and Special Features sections. The book subdivides restaurants into dozens of Cuisines, including many (from Afghan, African, Australian to Tibetan, Tunisian, Ukrainian, and Yemenite) that are represented by only one restaurant. Yet there's no Gluten-Free category even though the guide has six listings associated with GFRAP/GIG.

Here they are, ranked by food (and, coincidentally, service) rating. As you probably know, a 30 is the highest possible score. (A 28 is the highest given in this year's edition.) The cost estimates at Zagat have been questioned recently, but--for what it's worth--the average dinner-for-one cost of all the Zagat restaurants came to $37.61. The average tip is, reportedly, 18.9%. The upper-case letters for Asia de Cuba indicates that it is a Zagat "top spot" due to its popularity and importance as well as its high rating; it's kind of weird that the often-busy vegan restaurant Candle 79, which had the best food and service ratings in the pack, didn't make that cut.
Candle 79
Food: 24
Service: 23
Decor: 21
Estimated dinner for one: $40

Food: 23
Service: 20
Decor: 25
Estimated dinner for one: $56

Food: 21
Service: 19
Decor: 18
Estimated dinner for one: $49

Food: 21
Service: 18
Decor: 10
Estimated dinner for one: $23
Sample comment: "sets the standard for gluten-free dining"

Food: 19
Service: 18
Decor: 15
Estimated dinner for one: $36
Sample comment: "P.S. it also offers a gluten-free menu - 'is that an oxymoron for Italian?'"

Outback Steakhouse
Food: 15
Service: 16
Decor: 13
Estimated dinner for one: $32
All the restaurants earned outstanding or at least respectable ratings with the exception of Outback--and I think that might be somewhat unfair. It could reflect a survey prejudice against chain restaurants. Or perhaps the limited options available to gluten-free patrons keep me from even trying some of Outback's less impressive dishes.

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