Recently, I got invited to a gluten-free blogger dinner at Joe’s American Bar and Grill, along with GlutenFreeBostonGirl. Joe’s is part of the same restaurant family as Charley’s Saloon, which also has great gluten-free options. I had wanted to try Joe’s for a while, but each time we tried to go, it was packed and there was a wait.
We ate at the Newbury Street location, but there is another location on the waterfront and several suburban locations throughout New England. The Newbury Street location is particularly nice, as the front area has windows that open up and the bar can turn into a patio-like area with a good number of high top tables. It’s great for people watching. There is a larger dining area in the back as well. We were seated along the street side, so we got to enjoy the great weather and street activity.
Joe’s has great gluten-free options. About 85% of the menu is naturally or can be made gluten-free with minor changes, such as baked chicken without breading for the buffalo chicken tenders. Joe’s has gluten-free bread, pizza dough and pasta. They have gluten-free beer (Redbridge, which I personally don’t care much for), cider and a sizable wine and spirits list, including several vodkas that are potato based.
Tiffany, the General Manager, and our waiter were very knowledgeable about the menu and what ingredients were in each dish. Our waiter was was able to rattle off gluten-free options easily, make recommendations and checked every dish with the kitchen before finalizing our order. He came back to confirm that the meatballs do have gluten in them and suggested alternatives to go with the pasta and marinara, such as chicken or shrimp.
We started with gluten-free rolls (courtesy of Buckwheat’s Gluten Free), nachos, roasted mussels and seared ahi tuna. The rolls were awesome. It’s the same bread used for the sandwiches. It was chewy (in a good way), soft and the texture was really nice. I actually added the rolls to my shopping list in case I ever come across them in a store.
The seared ahi tuna was served with cucumber salad, wasabi and ginger. The tuna was rolled in sesame seeds and seared just a little on the outside. The tuna was firm and had a nice flavor to it. You don’t need to do much with fresh tuna to make it tasty. Of course, to make it gluten-free, there was no soy sauce.
The nachos were enormous! They came topped with cheese, guacamole, salsa, jalapenos and sour cream. I liked the salsa and guacamole, though I wish the salsa were a little hotter. These are definitely a sharing dish. I liked that while there was enough cheese on them, it wasn’t like a bucket of cheese so thick one would have to man handle the entire dish to get a single chip out.
My favorite appetizer was the roasted mussels. They came out on a searing hot skillet and were garnished with rock salt. The mussels had a lightly smoked flavor to them. They were perfectly salted, juicy and fresh. I tried them with the melted butter that came with them but, I really didn’t think it was needed. Again, the portion was pretty sizable.
The shrimp and pasta with marinara was nice. The pasta was well-cooked and had a good flavor. The sauce was good, nice and fresh and I liked that they kind of tossed the pasta in the sauce, so it was evenly distributed throughout the dish.
The chicken club was great. The bread didn’t break apart as I ate the sandwich: it held up well, probably because both side of the bun were individual, thin rolls rather than sliced bread. It’s when the liquids in the sandwich soak into a gluten-free bun that the bun starts to break down. The chicken was well-cooked, it wasn’t tough or chewy. It was served with huge steak fries. Those were well-seasoned and crispy along the edges, but soft in the middle.
My favorite entree was the buffalo chicken pizza. The dough of the pizza was crispy on the edges and maybe just a little doughy in the middle. Again, the chicken had a good texture and wasn’t tough. I hate it when you get chicken that isn’t cooked to order; it’s like eating a piece of jerky. There was plenty of cheese and bleu cheese to balance out the buffalo sauce. There was just enough buffalo sauce for a solid kick, but not so much it was dripping off the pizza.
We didn’t have time for dessert, but Joe’s has a creme brulee and ice cream for gluten-free customers.
I really enjoyed Joe’s and will definitely go back with Husband. The food, service and atmosphere are great and the selection for gluten-free diners is excellent. The prices are very reasonable, most entrees are between 10 and 20 dollars and there is no additional charge for gluten-free breads, pastas, or pizzas.
Just FYI, my dinner was complimentary, but the views expressed here are my own.