Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sans Souci

I think it has something to do with watching too many seasons of Top Chef, but I always find talking to a restaurant's kitchen staff rather intimidating. Not that I don't like the show, or others like it, but it grows a little old when season after season of high and mighty foodies with self proclaimed excellent pallets, tout their untouchable "art" - and god forbid anyone questions the ingredients in the food they've made,  much less suggest something different. 

I'm waiting for the day one of those shows does a gluten-free challenge. But that's another story for another time. 

My point is, when I called up Sans Souci at the Renaissance Hotel, I wasn't expecting any miracles. Even though I'd checked the menu out online before calling, and even though it looked promising, I couldn't help but wonder if my request for a gluten free, vegetarian meal would get me laughed off the phone, or worse, met with a sigh of annoyance - an I really can't be bothered with your problem. 

But Chef Anna Kim is not that kind of chef. Not only did she personally speak with me over the phone, assuring me with confidence my request could be easily met, she came out to my table upon my arrival - without me even asking to speak with her. Chef Kim explained that she handles a gluten intolerance about once a week (not to mention other food allergies and vegans), and said she could adjust most items on the menu to make them gluten free - adding this was particularly easy due to their Mediterranean influence.

She offered to make me something using any vegetable I desired - saying they had scores of fresh produce in the kitchen -  and honestly seemed a little disappointed when I opted for a dish already listed on that night's menu. Chef Kim, it seems, is up for a good challenge. 

With an addition of sauteed asparagus to my oven roasted eggplant (made complete by a red bell pepper and tomato ragu, feta cheese, and pine nuts), I had a Mediterranean gluten free feast that really did taste as good as it looks and sounds. (My food allergy free, and generally picky, father tried it as well and really liked it, too.)

Though full already, we ordered dessert; we had too - as a blogger with a responsibility to the Cleveland Celiac community, how could I not? We ordered the flourless chocolate cake and the creme brulee - but were suprised to learn that the flourless chocolate cake was in fact not gluten free. Thankfully, I was notified before it got anywhere near my mouth. Even more thankfully, the creme brulee was crunchy, creamy, and delicious - and so good that I felt no remorse over the misnomered cake. 

Sans Souci offers an excellent menu with excellent service - but I suppose I should note that such things come along with a price tag to match. So unless you can afford to break the bank regularly - or perhaps own one - in my opinion, San Souci is more of a special occasion place. 

Overall, not only did I enjoy my dinning experience and my meal at Sans Souci, I would welcome the chance to give Chef Anna Kim a real, off the menu gluten free challenge. (Plus, several of the meat dishes listed a few types of risottos as sides, any of which I'm sure could be turned into a dinner.) The whiny chefs of reality food TV might make impressive plates using foams and nitroglycerin, but if it came down to a food allergy challenge, something tells me they'd have nothing on Chef Kim.  

Sans Souci on Urbanspoon


Chiara said...

I really enjoy reading this blog, even though I don't have celiacs/gluten allergy.

...I guess i'm kind of weird that way...

Anonymous said...

Ditto what chiara said. The asparagus dish sounds delicious and I will probably try it.

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