For years, said chef Alain Ribiere, customers at Jonathan's American Bar & Grill in Garden City Park had been asking him for gluten-free menu items. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, cannot be digested by people who suffer from celiac disease; other people are allergic to it, and still others avoid it out of a belief that a gluten-free diet is healthier.
So Ribiere went through his regular menu and noted that many of the items were already gluten-free, from Mediterranean chopped salad and mussels Tarantino to sesame-crusted ahi tuna and baby back ribs. As of a month ago, these items were marked with an asterisk.
But Ribiere also knew that for true celiac sufferers, it’s not enough to refrain from bread and pasta. The smallest crumb or speck of flour can wreak havoc. He wanted to create a menu that would be safe to eat for his most vulnerable customers, so he turned to Barbara Callanan and Joan Schmidt of JCB Consulting to put his kitchen through gluten-free boot camp.
Callanan and Schmidt set up a walled-off gluten-free area in the kitchen. “We have separate prep area,” Ribiere said, “with dedicated gluten-free pots and utensils. All the ingredients are verified to be completely gluten free. We make sure there is no cross-contamination.”
To distinguish it from the effectively gluten-free items on the regular menu, Ribiere refers to this new lineup as the “medical menu.” It went into effect last week. Among the four appetizers are Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($10) and a crabmeat cocktail with lemon-Dijon mayonnaise ($15). The five entrees include grilled shrimp with vegetables and lemon-roasted potatoes ($27) and veal Marsala, with wild mushrooms and gluten-free pasta ($26). Desserts: orange crème brûlée ($9), chocolate mousse with strawberries ($8) and vanilla ice cream with raspberry coulis ($8).
Jonathan’s is at 2499 Jericho Tpke., Garden City Park, 516-742-7300, jonathansrestaurant.net.