Greenhouse Cafe | Long Beach Island

If you live in New Jersey or surrounding areas, you don’t simply head to the beach. You go down the shore. And the shore that I go to frequently is Long Beach Island. No, this beach isn’t the fist pumping, gelled hair, drunk fest that people have come to associate with Jersey shores (and rightly so in many instances). Instead, this is a family friendly 18 mile long island where 99% of the businesses are owned by families.

Greenhouse Cafe is one of those family owned businesses but is different from all the rest. They do EVERYTHING to cater to every single dietary restriction known to man and woman, and somehow stay open all year round (rare for businesses, especially restaurants, to be open off season on this island). With all that said, they offer some of the best home cooked food on the island. Don’t be fooled by their Jersey dinner style menu, they use high quality ingredients and prepare your food like grandma was cooking it for you. But beyond any of this, they can do almost everything on the menu gluten free. The only downside, no dedicated gluten free fryer. They will bake what you need instead. Not ideal, but the menu options rock and their vast stock of different gluten free breads make up for it.

Food (9.0)

The food here is really good. It has that home cooked taste and preparation which is exactly what you want on this cozy family oriented island. I’ve ordered takeout and dined in here many times and have never been disappointment. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to re-ordering food items but I’ve tried a lot of items on their menu and have always been very satisfied. My favorite is the NY strip steak sandwich. They import their gluten free sub rolls from Japan and it tastes incredible. I’ve made my friends take a bite and they can’t tell it is gluten free. They also have gluten free crusts, gluten free pastas, soups, bagels, wraps and everything else you can think of.

I’ve also eaten there breakfast more times then I can count. I mean c’mon, they have gluten free wraps for breakfast wraps and gluten free bagels for a good old new jersey breakfast sandwich. How could I not get this all the time for breakfast down in LBI.

But for this review, I did dinner and ordered three things (all food pictures are at the bottom of the post)

Appetizer

My girlfriend and I both got New England Clam Chowder which they have won many awards for. It is the best soup I’ve ever had, hands down. I’m not good at describing soups but whatever they put in this, is fantastic and an absolute must try for anyone that visits this place. Gluten free or not.

Entree

Like I said, I typically go with the NY Strip sub but this time I changed it up and went with the GF chicken parm sandwich. They used real mozzarella, homemade sauce, grilled chicken and the famous sub rolls I keep raving about. I have to admit, it was a really really good sandwich and I will happily order it again sometime but I definitely think it could be better. The NY Strip sub is much better and I take that into account with my food rating that I provided above.

Side

For the side we both split the “smothered fries” which were basically potato skins cut up into wedges. This and the soup are my two favorite things on this menu. For the gluten free people, they take baked potato wedges and smother it with mozzarella, cheddar cheese and bacon. MY GOD. So good. You guys probably think I’m 500lbs by this point and maybe once I have enough reviews written I will be, but for now I’m very healthy. This is a once in a while plate, despite it being one of my favorites. Very very filling.

Drinks (N/A)

Nothing to write about here. I won’t dock any points either because even if they offered alcohol or specialty drinks, I wouldn’t come here for that. This place is all about the food and the gluten free options.

Service (9.9)

Every waiter knows the menu inside and out. Remember, this is family owned and their staff is usually people who live on or near the island. This isn’t like a restaurant in the city where there are higher turnover rates, these people that work here truly care about the restaurant, you and your dietary needs. All of this goes beyond just being well trained.

Menu Honesty (9.5)

The menu has a novel for a disclaimer regarding gluten free items that are available. It goes very in depth in explaining what they can do for you and what they can offer. I’ve never seen another restaurant go to such lengths to make sure you are comfortable. They do so at the expense of an easy to read menu. The only reason this isn’t a 10 is because the menu is inherently hard to read when you first see it. See the pictures below for reference. But still, I wish more gluten free restaurants went to this length to take care of gluten free eaters. So a 9.5 is still far above what other great restaurants will probably receive from me, score wise.

Did I Get Sick (NO)

I have NEVER gotten sick from eating here. I’ve spoken directly to the chef’s before, the owner and to many servers. They know what they are doing here and you are in fantastic hands regarding your gluten free needs. There is always the off chance no matter where you eat, if they aren’t a dedicated gf kitchen. But you have a better chance of being struck by a piece of shrapnel from a speeding train while in an armored hummer 10 cars back from the railroad crossing then being glutened here. Never heard of that happening before? Neither have I and that is the point.

Overall (9.5)

Yup, you read that right. 9.5 and well deserved. This is a must go for anyone near the area. The level of care, options, food prep, gluten knowledge, food taste and service all make this place an outstanding restaurant for gluten free eaters.