Amanda’s in Hoboken is one of those spots in town that I’ve heard is a must try but have never visited until recently. Just based on what you see from the sidewalk, it doesn’t look like anything special. But once you step inside past the small front door corridor you realize quickly how upscale and deceivingly large this place is. The food is just as upscale as the atmosphere. But the taste and variety is geared towards those with an acquired taste, something I’m still working on acquiring. Luckily for us gluten free eaters, there is quite a few options and the kitchen is setup well to accommodate us. The service does lack a tiny little bit though, at least it did in my one time experience.
I’ll get straight to the point. The food is pretty good here but there wasn’t anything that made me think “wow” after leaving. As I mentioned, this is an upscale restaurant with upscale food and variety. They offer dishes like duck, octopus, and other things you don’t typically find on normal menus. I’ve never had duck but decided to try it – when in Rome.
For appetizer we decided to try two things on the menu that were labeled GF. The house made duck sausage and the creamy polenta, which wasn’t so creamy and came in a cake form. Both were pretty good though and the duck really surprised me in a good way.
There were other items on the entree menu that I would have tried but they weren’t labeled gluten free, like the truffle short ribs and New Jersey Scallops that might typically be safe. I was a little discouraged by this and ended up ordering the Spanish Paella which was decently tasty but a lot of work. Shrimp, clams and a half lobster that was cooked and then cut right down the middle. I get it, the presentation is what they were going for but even that failed. It just looked gross and they didn’t clean it up like they should have. I don’t like to pay this much and have to work for my food. I really wish they just removed the tail and claws and served that instead. The side of potatoes cooked in duck fat was probably my favorite thing I ate in this restaurant.
The fact that the menu already has items marked GF creates a solid base for service. It means the server is aware that gluten free eaters will be dining here and that the kitchen has an awareness towards it also, usually. Less work for the servers and less pressure for both parties on the communication side.
But sometimes it has the opposite effect where the server relies too much on the kitchen and doesn’t communicate with the cooks, just because it is already labeled GF. This is what happened here. I asked our server if he could confirm with the kitchen about safely cooking my food. His reply was “oh I’m sure it is fine since it is labeled on the menu – you don’t need to worry.” He never confirmed with me if that was true before our food got served by a runner. Luckily, the kitchen was set up to handle gluten free orders separately (as I was told by management before dining here) so this wasn’t so much a problem.
The fact that the menu labels about 30% of their menu as GF is a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because they offer a good amount of food gluten free. It isn’t so good because there are items on the menu that are surprisingly not gluten free. Since my waiter wasn’t really helpful I couldn’t squeeze in any real menu questioning to figure out why. The options that the menu offers are pretty good though and I was satisfied overall with my choices. They didn’t mention anything about kitchen cooking practices which negged this score a little – had to find this out from management. But menu honesty with regards to their GF foods is spot on.
Did I Get Sick (NO)
I wish I had nima with me (ran out of capsules by this dining visit). But in the absence of Nima, the old fashioned gut test will have to do here. Luckily, no problems whatsoever. I was very full, that’s for sure. But no gut issues and everything seemed ok.
I think 7.4 is a very fair rating for this place. If any of my readers are more of the upscale gluten free types, then this is probably a low score. But for me, this is fitting. Decent “unique” food, decent amount of options, so so service that is backed up by easy menu labeling and sake kitchen practices. Since this isn’t a dedicated GF facility, there is always a risk of course. But they seem to know how to handle it properly. All in all, this was a decent restaurant experience in terms of gluten free eating. Nothing more, nothing less.