Café Belair - Wine & Spirits Diner

Café Belair – Wine & Spirits Diner

It’s been on my to-do list, to visit Café Belair after hearing some really positive feedback. I have often remembered right about the time I wanted to pop in for lunch but they never have availability. The problem with my spontaneity is the Café Belair is really popular and one must have reservations a couple days in advance. Thankfully I actually remembered to make reservations and finally able to sample their fare. To my delight their terrace was still open. I was asked if I would prefer terrace seating on the day if the weather was agreeable and of course I said yes. As fortune would have it, the weather was incredibly agreeable adding a lovely ambiance to a our lunch.

table-set

Café Belair is known for their hamburgers. They have a mouth-watering list from the basic burger to those with all sorts of fancy toppings like grilled onions, bacon, avocados and a variety of cheeses to name a few. I know you must be wondering about the gluten….ya know, the buns and all. Well, here’s the part that I’ve heard so much positive feedback about and that is, they have a good majority that is gluten free…buns too. You heard me right, you can have a gluten free hamburger on a gluten free bun!

My husband, who is gluten intolerant, is quite the trooper and always happy to help me try new places especially when meat is involved. So for our lunch date we each got a different burger. As usual we shared bites from the others plate so we could each sample them. I have to say, I was quite impressed with both burgers.

texan-burger

My hubby got the ‘Texan’ which had bacon and gluten free barbecue sauce. The burger was thick and juicy and cooked to order which for us is medium-rare. He found his happy place and devoured every morsel.

faith-burger

I selected the ‘Faith (from NYC)’ burger which had avocado and cheddar cheese. The bun you see in both pictures is the gluten free bun. Unlike many gluten free buns I’ve tried that fall apart rather easily these were hardy, tasty and held up quite nicely. The whole burger assembly was so thick though that we had to use a fork and knife versus our American tendency to pick it up and eat with our hands.

I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary on the beverage list so I was unprepared to see a gluten free beer on offer. Now, I’ve had some really nasty and tasteless gluten free beers so I was skeptical. Before my celiac diagnosis I was a medium to dark beer connoisseur and I can say in all honesty that I really miss a good beer! I will choose water or wine over a nasty beer any day.  The man taking our order assured me this beer was different and that I might really like it. He said non-gluten free folks often order it saying they don’t notice a difference in it being gluten free.

tool-gf-beer

I was quite enchanted with this Danish beer called To Øl enjoying it immensely. I am looking forward to having it again! It was a fabulous experience to have a nice cold beer and hamburger on an hot day while sitting on the terrace even if it is a bit cliché.

please read

I really need to add the serious bit here about the gluten free aspect of visiting Café Belair. First to note is that the kitchen is not certified according to gluten free preparation guidelines. Their kitchen is extremely tiny and I mean really, really tiny like an overgrown pantry closet. The chef is very knowledgeable about gluten but because of the kitchen size they are not able to allow a space specifically for gluten free prep. The staff does their best to use clean utensils and wipe up the area when preparing a gluten free dish but of course the other food in nearby so the possibility for cross-contamination does exist.

The proprietor, Pierre, is very aware of the reality of food allergies and the potential for a serious reaction. When I called for a reservation, I asked about gluten free options at which point he explained the kitchen situation as well as the efforts the staff makes so that I could be aware ahead of time and even choose not to dine there. Once there, placing our order he again explained everything which I greatly appreciated and gave me a bit of confidence. I decided to bravely give it a try and did not have a single issue. I am highly reactive to gluten so I was nervous those first 20 or so minutes which is about how long it takes for my symptoms to begin. Pierre even came to the table as we were finishing to see if we were having any gluten related reactions. His concern for patrons is admirable and I thanked him profusely for his openness and honesty. I can happily report that my overall visit was terrific and symptom free!

I wanted to make certain you friends know the whole scoop up front so you can make an informed decision before calling for reservations. This was my experience and one I look forward to repeating often.

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