The leader of the Middle GA GIG Group, recently shared with me her experience of eating in a 100% gluten-free restaurant in Asheville, NC. That’s correct – 100% gluten-free, at least for food. They do serve some craft beers, in addition to several gluten-free varieties, but the food is all completely gluten-free! Our plans to attend a wedding in FL kept me from going to Asheville at the first possible moment to try this place. In fact, my plans for the FL trip changed slightly just so I could finagle the trip to Asheville the following weekend. Being on a budget meant we could only spend one night, but that was all we needed!
We arrived in Asheville on Friday at lunch time and headed directly to the restaurant. It’s in the spot where Cafe on the Square used to be. We use to love that place but it changed hands a few times and went out of business. If you are not familiar with the space, it is the best location for a restaurant in downtown Asheville. Visits to two 100% gluten-free places in Texas last year planted an image in my mind of what such places are like. In the case of the Texas locations, most of the business is gluten-free, which is not really unusual for a 100% gluten-free restaurant. What I encountered in Asheville was an establishment in a league of its own.
Since the weather was picture perfect (and the exact opposite of the weather we’d left behind in Atlanta), we sat outside on the charming covered patio. The owners Martha and Peter knew we were coming and we met them both within minutes of our arrival. Our friendly server Perry took great care of us and confirmed that the entire menu was gluten-free.
I’d already cried over the menu being completely gluten-free in San Antonio, so I didn’t have the typical reaction of someone reviewing a menu where absolutely nothing is off limits. There really isn’t any way to describe how good it feels to just read a menu, order whatever looks appealing and enjoy the dining experience. Best of all, there is no worrying that someone is going to mess up your food.
After reviewing the lunch menu, both my husband and I ordered sandwiches, which are served on homemade focaccia bread. The menu is gourmet and eclectic, reflecting the owners tastes for wonderful dishes from around the world. Because I can not order a sandwich with bread (not a bun, but bread) in Atlanta, nothing else would suffice for me except a Ham and Cheese Sandwich. My husband opted for the Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.
When our food arrived, the plates looked beautiful, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving, especially with gluten-free food. My sandwich was really too large for me to eat with my hands so I cut it into small sections and that worked out great. The focaccia was the only version I’ve had gluten-free and reminded me of gluten bread in Italy. It was simply out of this world delicious! They could sell the bread alone for a profitable side business. The entire sandwich was incredible and the gourmet mustard on it was some of the best we’ve ever tasted.
My husband shared a bite of the fried green tomato from his lunch with me. It was also delicious and after tasting my sandwich, he could not determine which one was better. Since I don’t care for mayo (his BLT is was dressed with a fancy one), I concluded that mine was the better of the two, no doubt! My meal came with a lovely side salad but I snagged a few of the fries that came with the BLT.
After we cleaned our plates, we both ordered dessert. In my defense, I gave a pretty nice chunk of my sandwich to my husband, just so I could have dessert. The options were overwhelming but I finally decided on the Chocolate-Raspberry Truffle Cake and my husband ordered the Walnut Orange Cake. Both came with small servings of home made ice cream (or gelato).
My cake was fabulous and as good or better than any chocolate/raspberry gluten dessert I’ve had. The gelato served with it was exceptional as well. However, my husband’s cake won the “best dessert” contest between the two. Actually, I’ve never had any gluten cake with similar ingredients that comes close to this light, airy and fantastic treat! Neither dessert had any gluten-free qualities to it, in terms of taste, texture, mouth feel or anything else. They were both excellent tasting desserts than any gluten eater would certainly enjoy immensely. And by the way – they do every day!
All I can say about the pastry Chef who made our treats is that she is one of the most talented people we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy creations from. I can’t name all those we’ve samples wares from, but they include treats in Bermuda, Italy, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, San Fancisco and Bevery Hills. I’m comparing only the gluten desserts we’ve tried in those places to the exceptional treats we had in Asheville.
I purposefully did not mention the name of this place above because if I had, everyone would have already gotten lost in the incredible menu and photos on the website and not read the full article. So, you are now free to go explore Posana Cafe on your own – at least online. And don’t worry that they don’t mention they are 100% gluten-free. That is by design as most of their business comes from gluten eaters. The website does incicate they can accomodate gluten-free customers.
In the competitive dining scene of Asheville, the owners have no choice but to cater to all diners equally. They don’t have to shout from the roof tops that all the food is gluten-free because the gluten-free community can do that for them. There is no reason to scare gluten eaters away, keeping them from experiencing one of the best meals they can find in Asheville!
Just sitting at Posana Cafe and listening to others rave about their food was delightful. Most everyone on the patio the day we were there eats gluten. They had no idea they were raving about gluten-free food – it was simply priceless! Take out a loan to get there if you must, but get to Asheville if you can, and enjoy one of the best gluten-free dining experiences in the country. Based on my personal dining adventures, Posana Cafe offers the best and most relaxed gluten-free experience to be had in the Southeast!
For a while I’ve been wondering if a completely gluten-free restaurant could survive in Atlanta. Thanks to the success of Posana Cafe, I know it absolutely could! The question now is – who is going to open such a place here?
Special thanks to Carol Hinton for the incredible tip about this place! She made my week, month and year by doing so!