Update 04 November 2013 – Their cornbread is no longer Gluten Free.
Update 15 September 2014 – Unfortunately Dirty South has closed, they have been replaced with a Mexican restaurant but at the moment it’s not clear if they will offer gluten free food.
There is one thing I definitely miss from my Gluten days, which is being out, having a few drinks and just wandering into somewhere to have a good ol’ drunken snack. It’s near impossible to do gluten free here, unless you count a bag of carefully selected erdnuss flips from the local späti. So when I first walked past Dirty South, not long after it had opened, I was rather excited. A restaurant which serves tacos and comfort food, has booze and had taken the time to actually write that they are gluten free friendly on their sign outside!!
Although, it still confuses me a bit as to why people join Vegan and Gluten Free together, but, nevermind, I’m quite happy enough to see Gluten Free get a mention.
So, I endeavoured to visit and consume. I tried twice, only to find them closed during their listed open hours! What with not being able to eat a full meal anywhere else nearby, it meant a 30 minute journey back home to cook and eat, quite frustrating indeed. I dropped by a third time to just check out their menu, having already eaten elsewhere and was greeted by a staff member who had no idea what gluten free even was, I was a little dismayed. But, I persisted, and on my fourth try, I found them open and a (mostly) knowledgeable staff member, joy! I have since visited a few times and have had no issue with them being open, I’m guessing it was a little early teething problem, the staff though, is another issue.
The place itself is a nice and a little themed, glorious and all ‘American’ to my European eyes with a complete lack of the useless tack that you get in other American places here (think neon signs). Plus, they have quite a nice selection of alcohols behind the bar and American beers (although the glutenfrei options are German).
But, this is not why I was visiting. Food was to be consumed! I opened the menu, wondering at just what delights I could eat!
Comfort foods, sounds good, but no sign of anything gluten free, next page.
Tacos sound great also, but, again, no mention of gluten free. Odd. It was at this point that I called over the server and inquired, she went away and checked with the kitchen and was able to list off what was and what was not gluten free, although further questions needed additional visits to the kitchen. To say it was a little confusing would be an understatement. I have since been back a couple of times and have met the same issue, the staff seem to have not been trained as to what gluten free really is and give the impression that they are not 100% sure what is and what is not gluten free on the menu. I think this is down to a confusion between ‘may contain traces of’ and ‘completely gluten free’, but either way, it does not fill you with any confidence when ordering. Thankfully, it’s not that they do not care and you will get to order gluten free food, it’s just the process is far more difficult and worrying than it should be.
Now, it’s not that I don’t have to go through this kind of hassle in a regular restaurant, but for a place that offers specifically gluten free items, to not have them at least marked on the menu and have your staff trained seems rather odd indeed. The next time I visit I’m tempted to take along a little packet of sticky red dots to put next to each gluten free item.
But, after being reassured that the kitchen is well aware of gluten and they know what they’re doing, I ordered myself a Black Beans & Rice Deluxe with Bacon and Cornbread. Plus, as I was in an American place, this little can of high fructose corn syrupy joy.
I don’t care what people say, root beer is delicious. Then this arrived, causing homer-esque “mmmm, bacon”s in my brain.
And just look at this golden brick of gluten free lovelyness.
It was rather good and, even with the bacon of the main dish, I think the cornbread was my favourite. Although that may be because I was actually eating bread with my meal in a restaurant, rare.
On my second successful visit, I ordered the beef version of the dish above.
It was far better and I would highly recommend giving it a try.
The only downside was that, at least on my visit, there were no gluten free desserts as such, but here’s hoping that they change that.
In conclusion, forgive their little oddities, it may be disconcerting and a bit of pain to order but they are slowly getting better with the knowledge and ability to advise. Just focus on the fact that the food is good and they serve cocktails. What more could you want.
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