Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gluten Free goodness at Brooklyn House in Portland

My husband and I had previously dined at the Berlin Inn (See previous review here), that had a really good  GF options.  At our last visit, we were told that they would be closing and re-opening as the Brooklyn House restaurant, which is entirely gluten free. (YAY!)  It took my hubby and I way too long to get back in and try it out and I regret waiting that long!

Brooklyn House is in an often overlooked area.  It is right off SE 12th and Powell, when I speak to people about it, no one can picture it.  When I tell them that  it is right next door to the Edelweiss German deli, everyone knows exactly where it is.  Brooklyn House is exactly that, a house.  But don't let the exterior fool you.  Inside is a very homey, quaint restaurant with enthusiastic staff.

Brooklyn House is farm to table food.  They call their food style "European Comfort Food" I call it simply pretty amazing.  Having been GF for almost a year, I am learning more and leaning more towards organic and farm fresh food.  Most of the red meat my family eats is wild elk from my husband's annual hunting trip.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

We were greeted at Brooklyn House by the co-owner, Erica Litzner.  She is super friendly but laid back, not in your face.  She answered our many questions about the menu and you could really feel her passion for what she does.  She wants to provide fresh, GF, delicious food.  Often gluten free meals are also vegetarian, but I like meat.  One thing I loved about Erica was that she pretty much recommended everything with a side of steak.  Yes, you can get a side of steak with any meal!

My husband and I decided to split meals, so we could both try different things.  My husband wanted this chicken Alfredo.  Not my favorite, but that is ok.  You can get many meals in a medium or larger size.  At Erica's suggestion, we chose medium.  We also ordered the steak with whiskey pepper cream sauce, which came with purple potatoes and roasted vegetables.   I also asked for a side of another menu item, because I wanted to try it, but my husband isn't always as adventurous as I am.

First we tried the rosemary chicken Alfredo.  I have to say, I verbally made sounds of appreciation with my first bite.  It was the best Alfredo I have ever had.  The sauce wasn't as heavy as a lot of Alfredo sauces, but was packed with flavor.

I loved the color and presentation of the steak plate.  Not only did it come with purple potatoes, it came with purple roasted cauliflower. 

My husband likes his steak pretty much still mooing and I am more of a medium type of girl, so we settled on medium rare, with a hint more towards medium. We cut into the steak and it was perfect to meet both of our preferences.  It was very good, as was the cream sauce.

The side dish that my husband didn't want to try was mushrooms over roasted garlic parsnip puree.  I love root vegetables!  There was a hearty helping of different types of mushrooms in a sauce, which contrasted nicely over the sharp flavor of parsnips.  I couldn't finish the whole thing, so I took some home and it heated nicely for an after work snack the next day.

We were stuffed, but you know I can't pass up dessert.  Erica brought out a beautiful platter of options and we selected 3 different desserts to take home to sample later.  I wasn't able to get to the desserts for a day or two, and I was concerned because some GF items get a unfavorable texture when not eaten right away, but these all held up very well.

The first one I tried was a whipped cheesecake with chocolate and caramel sauce drizzled over it.  It was very good.  The texture reminded me of a combination of Boston cream and cheesecake.  The crust was was similar in texture to a graham crust and I could definitely taste dates.

Next I tried the black forest cake with chocolate sauce.  They warned me that this batch was very boozy but I really didn't think it was too bad.  It is a very dense cake with a light whipped topping and a slight tang from cherries. 

Finally, I tried the "Brooklyn Pie" with white chocolate sauce.  They gave me the sauce separately, so I am sure they would have drizzled it a bit more artistically than I did.  This was also very good.  A cake with a layer of cream inside, topped with chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate.  My 14 year old was an eager taste tester and this was his favorite. 

After a not so great experience at my usual favorite special occasion restaurant, it has been replaced by the Brooklyn House.  Price wise for the quality of food, I thought it was reasonable.

The menu at Brooklyn House changed seasonally, but this is a scan from the night in January 2014 that we dined there. The Alfredo was only $12 and the steak was $22.

One thing I appreciate is small, local business like Brooklyn House.  And Brooklyn House also supports other local business.  Here is a statement on the back of their menu:

"Our  mission is to offer the best available food to as many people possible at the lowest price possible while nourishing our society, economy & environment.

Our menus celebrate our regions and changing seasons with food that is artisan & comforting. Our service is meant to show everyone they are worthy of kindness & companionship. We sincerely honor our guestsʼ dietary choices and want everyone to feel supported in this space.

Our house carries a 30-year legacy of European-style dining, & our staff has a deep connection with its rich history. Our relationships with our guests are uniquely strong. Our work is to be a positive impact on our community & our world. We constantly monitor energy consumption, vigorously research each product & service, actively support all forms of local art & fairly compensate our fellow workers for their labor. We must work; therefore we work with love & compassion. We share with you our food, our friends, our space & our lives."

You can check their website for a sampling of local businesses that they support. 

We went on a Thursday night, and the restaurant was pretty quiet, but they do recommend reservations, especially on weekends.  The seating area is fairly small, so space is limited.

In addition to providing delicious meals, Brooklyn caters, does private parties, and does fundraising and supports local charities.

As my friends know, I do not eat our very often because I am so sensitive to cross contamination.  It's just not worth a trip to the ER.  It is so, so nice to find restaurants where I can order anything off of the menu without worrying about getting ill. Follow Brooklyn House on facebook to keep up with events and menu changes.

3131 SE 12th  Ave
Portland, OR


I wanted to expand my review with a couple of updates from subsequent visits to the Brooklyn house.  This Valentine's Day 2014, my husband was out of town, so my daughter and youngest son were my valentine's dates.

I do have to add that my amazing husband did have flowers delivered with a handwritten note from him.  Love that guy.

Anyway, on to our Valentine's dinner.  My lovely company was my daughter, Becca, age 20 and my youngest son, Nolan, age 14.  They had heard Ed and I talking about how much we enjoyed dinner at Brooklyn House, so they were excited to try it.  My daughter is a bit picky and wasn't sure about a dedicated GF restaurant, but Nolan is a teenager and can eat his own weight in food, so he isn't that picky.

We started with an order of bread.  We received a delicious basket of New Cascadia baguettes with creamy garlic butter.  It was quite a bit of bread for 3 of us.  I had 2 slices and the kids nomed through the rest of it.
Becca asked a couple of times if I was sure it was gluten free, because the bread was so good.  lol

Nolan was really funny and kept saying that his was the fanciest restaurant he had ever been to.  That actually may be true.  My husband and I usually do date nights without the kids.  He loved the fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Both of the kids ordered the cesar salad.  I let them take photos of their own meals.  This is Nolan's photo of his salad.  You really can never go wrong with a Cesar, so the kids were happy.

They both also ordered the rosemary chicken alfredo, because Ed had such good things to say about it.  They both said it was the best alfredo they had ever had.  This is Becca's photo.  She also ordered a side of steak.

Nolan enjoying his alfredo.

For myself, I started with a baked kale salad.  Honestly this was one of the best salads I have ever had.  I highly recommend it.

For my meal, I tried one of their Valentine's Day specials.  It was 2 lamb chops that were cooked rare with a tart cherry sauce.  They also came with garlic mashed white sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables.  It was a great meal and I especially loved the tart cherry sauce.

We were all very full, but of course ordered desserts to go.  I didn't get a chance to get a photo of Becca's.  She had a lemon bar that she really liked.  Nolan had the Brooklyn Pie, which is shown in my above review.
I took home a cranberry meringue pie.  It is just like a lemon meringue, but with tart cranberries instead of lemon.  It was good, but not as sweet as I like desserts.  Nolan had not problems polishing it off.  He gave it two thumbs up.  It's just a matter of preference. 
On March 20th, 2014, Ed and I visited Brooklyn House again.  This time we went with a group from the Portland Gluten Free Supper Club.  A split off group from the Gluten Free Portland FB page.  The GF supper club meets once a month to try new GF restaurants.  This is the first event we have made it to, and it was great fun to meet other GF Portlanders. 
Ed and I started off with a dipping plate.  It came with Spanish Olive tapenade, white bean spread, chèvre/mascarpone whip and Mama Lil's sweet-hot peppers (grown and preserved in Washington) with crostini.  All of the flavors were very sharp and wonderful.  We both enjoyed them.

Although I loved the kale salad, I wanted to try new things, so I ordered the Golden and Red Beet salad.  It came with arugula and spinach, hazelnuts and goat cheese.  It was really tasty and I enjoyed the beets.  

For my entree, I ordered the Wine Braised Chicken Stew.  This used to come with mushrooms with parsnip puree, with I have ordered separately and loved, but they changed this recipe a bit to make it more paleo, and just used roasted parsnips, but the stew was still very good and hearty.  I just love parsnips in general for their sharp flavor.  I took a lot of it home and it heated nicely the next day and made a great lunch.

My husband ordered the Edelweiss Grilled Sausage with braised red cabbage and grilled sauerkraut. It also came with a lovely mustard. This is a simple meal that is right up my husband's alley. The bonus is that the Edelweiss German Deli is literally right next door to The Brooklyn House, so you know it is fresh. 

As always, I ordered deserts to go.
I ordered a banana tiramisu.  It was really good.  I love tiramisu and this was the first time I was able to have one since going GF.  I let my eager son taste test it.  He said, "It's so good you can't even tell it is gluten free!' 

I was extremely excited they were serving a dessert that I had seen featured on their FB page.  It is a brownie, with a layer of homemade marshmallow cream on top and topped with dark chocolate.  I was pleased when I opened my to go box to find white chocolate, hazelnuts and a couple of cherries to go with.  I was pretty excited to try this and it lived up to my expectations.  I would say that I could eat a bowl of the marshmallow cream with a spoon, but that wouldn't be acceptable.....or would it??

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