UPDATE: In this review you will find my original review of this place and updated reviews/ratings for each section based on a second visit to this restaurant. I normally would have tossed the original and provided only a rewritten version but the overall experience was worth documenting.
I’ve described LBI before as a family friendly town with unique mom and pop stores/restaurants everywhere. If I were to put those restaurants into tiers; The Gables would be in the top tier by itself. I typically don’t talk in length about restaurant atmospheres because they have nothing to do with gluten free. But I must describe The Gables atmosphere.
You know when you walk into a restaurant at the beach, you still feel like you are at the beach? I love that. Well at The Gables, you don’t feel that and somehow it is a great thing. There is a feeling of casual paradise with an air of sophistication as you are transported to somewhere else entirely. Everything is manicured perfectly from the decorations to the napkins in the bathroom. This description couldn’t be anymore cliché (sorry) but the food, service and gluten free options are as top notch as the atmosphere.
FOOD (8.5) – ORIGINAL
My girlfriend and I split the Artisanal Burrata for appetizer which I must warn about. I learned from a knowledgeable server at Otto Strada in Hoboken that the balsamic vinegar can sometimes contain soy sauce. I never would have guessed this but the thicker it looks, watch out. The waitress at The Gables told me that it naturally came gluten free and required no adjustments but it sat on top of drizzled balsamic. Again, sometimes this is a problem and sometimes it isn’t. I couldn’t be sure and I didn’t have a Nima sensor at the time so I didn’t take a chance.
2nd VISIT UPDATE: I ate here a second time after I wrote this initial review and brought my nima. I tested this dish and I was right, it definitely had gluten in it. Considering how simple the dish is I’m inclined to believe that soy sauce was definitely used in the balsamic, but can’t confirm this. It just looked too obvious to me. Avoid this dish entirely! Thankfully I knew better and didn’t even bother having it the first time around.
The entrée was outstanding. I had the Bone In Filet Mignon which was much better than most steaks I’ve had at actual steakhouses. You know those places that specialize in actual steak cooking? No, this place somehow does it better. It comes with Jumbo Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Garlic and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Caramelized Pearl Onions & Sauteed Wild Mushrooms. FANCY FANCY. Yet extremely tasty. It was cooked perfectly medium just how I ordered it and the toppings/sides were mouthwatering. Very impressive.
2nd VISIT UPDATE: I ordered this dish a second time also and Nima approved it but my trust level for this place is very low. I’m not sure if I just got lucky twice with this dish but it doesn’t seem to contain any gluten ingredients like the Burrata did. My food review remains the same because what I could eat, the steak, was gluten free and tasted great both times.
I toyed with this rating a bit but decided to go with Not Applicable. They offer only a select few wines from a winery they partner with but otherwise are completely BYO. You cannot bring liquor (which is standard for a BYO) but you can bring wine and beer. If they only allowed their very few wine selections and no BYO then this place would receive a very low score. But since it is a BYO then it is as good as you want it to be.
2nd VISIT UPDATE: None needed for drinks
SERVICE (8.0) – ORIGINAL
The service here is the best on the island without a doubt in general terms. So that begs the question, how does the best on this island stack up to the best elsewhere? For gluten free eaters, they are quick to point out that most of the menu items are naturally gluten free and that adjustments can be made. They seem knowledgeable but the balsamic situation I mentioned above made me nervous so the score here is a little wobbly. Maybe it was GF. Maybe it wasn’t. I’ll won’t know because I was too chicken to test out my guts. Assuming they were right and it was GF then this score deserves to be in the low 9’s. If they were wrong, then this score deserves to be lower than 6. So be careful and diligent when dining here and take this score with a grain of salt until I can prove this either way.
2nd VISIT UPDATE: In my second visit which has prompted these updates, I questioned the server a bit harder then I did the first time around. I asked him to talk to the chef and be certain that soy sauce wasn’t used in the burrata. He came back and told me the chef confirmed no soy sauce was used and that it was gluten free. The server in my first visit gave me re-assurances but didn’t speak with the chef. Remember, this place is known for handling allergies well so I walked in with a higher trust level the first time around.
I have a feeling one of three things happened here. One scenario, the server was too afraid to speak to the chef and fibbed what he told me, which happens sometimes. Many years ago this place was known for having a chef with a terrible attitude where servers were afraid to speak to him so that would be fitting here. Second scenario, the chef didn’t care or used prepackaged ingredients and didn’t know. The third scenario, cross contamination. I unfortunately believe it was one of the first two or combo of the two. With this update in mind, my adjusted score for service here is a 4.0. Remember, it isn’t about how nice or attentive the servers are. Service scores on this blog are about the kitchen and the wait staff working to accommodate safe gluten free eating.
SERVICE (4.0) – AFTER 2nd VISIT
MENU HONESTY (N/A)
The menu sacrifices allergy information for an elegant presentation. That is the style of this place and your allergies 100% depend on the conversation you have with your server. I just question how truly knowledgeable they are with regard to food prep. Again, this all depends on whether I am right or wrong about the balsamic. If I get back to this spot with my Nima I will re-rate/update everything here accordingly.
2nd VISIT UPDATE: The service is not so great for gluten free eaters but that doesn’t change how the menu is written. No score adjustment needed here for menu honesty.
DID I GET SICK (NO)
I only had the bone in filet and the sides it came with but I did not get sick. My taste buds were extremely happy and my gut was satisfied (as satisfied as it could be while processing 18oz of fine cut gf meat).
2nd VISIT UPDATE: Following your own instincts is always the best way to go. Both that and Nima helped ensure I didn’t get sick in either experience. No adjustment needed for this section
OVERALL (8.0) – ORIGINAL
OVERALL (6.0) – AFTER 2nd VISIT
NIMA SIDE NOTE: I know there has been controversy regarding the use of Nima in the gluten free world. I’m not advocating it nor am I condoning the usage of it. But in my personal experience, it has saved me a few times and this was one of those instances. These two experiences are a great example of how good judgement can NEVER be replaced by a gadget. BUT, good judgement can certainly be added by it, which is exactly what happened in this instance. Read my full review of the Nima gluten sensing device here if you want to learn more. These are strictly my opinions and are based solely on my own intuition and experiences.