I apologize that this post has been so long in the making, but I cannot emphasize enough how much you MUST go to The Health Food Shoppe's deli at Cottage Flowers downtown for lunch at your earliest availability. Seriously, get out your calendar and write/type it in right now. This is important because they are only open Monday through Friday during the lunch hour, 10-2. If you work days and you're not downtown, you need to plan a special trip on a day off or something. You will NOT be disappointed!!!
I went to their preview party a few weeks ago and they had tables set up with desserts and sandwiches ready to go, as well as hot items at the counter. I'm waiting in line with all the downtown people eager to try it, holding a squirmy toddler and suspiciously eyeing all these flour-based foods ahead of me. I knew they were supposed to be offering some gluten free foods, but I was beginning to suspect that this was not going to be the day to sample them. I was THIIIIIIIIS close to turning around and walking out because there was NO way I could make a lunch of it there on that day. I talked myself out of it thinking I could at least get some info on their GF foods and feed that wiggle-worm who was by now throwing the sippy cup at people in business suits.
When I got up to the dessert table, I almost jokingly asked the guy if there was any chance that any of the items would happen to be gluten free (I already KNEW the answer, I was so sure!)- he stated that yes, everything but THIS ONE item IS gluten free.
The pecan gooey bars?
ALL GLUTEN FREE????
I asked so many times that the sippy-cup-assaulted man in front of me had to jump in and assure me that yes, he said they are all gluten free.
"So, what would you like, ma'am?"
"Um, all of it!"
I still wasn't convinced. This poor kid just doesn't know what I'm talking about.
I worked my way over to the sandwiches. I started out sharing that I had been told that these desserts were GF (they reassured me of this as well) and asked if any of the sandwiches were..... no, they're not........ the gluten free sandwiches are over on the counter.
I got sandwiches for me and the sippy shooter and asked about the hot items. They just ran out of the lasagna, but assured me that they ALWAYS make it GF. They had some salmon stuff that was good. Sorry, I don't remember exactly what it was.
Then I got talked into the quinoa salad. They had cous cous (not GF), but the quinoa salad was their GF alternative to that. Didn't look much like something I'd care for, but what the heck!! And yes, it was awesome.
This week I have had the opportunity to eat lunch there a few times due to work (need to get a job in Citizen's Square now for lunch convenience....) and I am so sad that it may be quite some time before I get to return. That's why I need you to keep them busy. From what I've seen, the lunch crowd has been good, but I don't want to lose this amazing asset, even if I can't take advantage of it as regularly as I would like. Please go there when you can. Seriously.
Okay, so as I said, I've lunched there twice this week and will be back there once more tomorrow. Yesterday I got a sandwich and the salad bar; today a sandwich and soup.
They use Sami's bread, which I actually had never tried before. Very good. They use meat from Applegate Farms- no hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, artificial ingredients, or gluten. All of their veggies are organic. Their lemonade is fresh-squeezed with just lemon juice from organic lemons, cane sugar, and water.
They offer a hot entree every day as the daily feature. Today was Chicken Divine, which is like a chicken casserole. The soup caught my attention more, however. It was turkey and rice with mushrooms (and something else maybe???)- great stuff!!
You can get the salad, soup, or sandwiches individually, but they do offer lunch specials (like a combo meal) where you can get a combination of two of those or the quinoa salad with tea or lemonade for $8.95. I of course had to add a dessert on each day- a pecan gooey bar yesterday and brownie today. I'm not too nuts about nuts, but the pecan gooey bar is so fun!! I may have to pick up a few of those tomorrow for the road.
Have you written this in on your calendar yet to go get lunch there soon??? Because I feel like an infomercial at this point that just won't shut up!!
I haven't enjoyed lunch so much since The Roasted Bean closed and I couldn't get my paninis for lunch anymore...
Okay, wait. One more thing I forgot. When you go to the salad bar, get croutons. Yes, the croutons they have out are GF.
I told someone yesterday that eating here is like the opposite of eating out at many other places for us. Usually we have a small list of things we can choose from; here we have a small list of things we canNOT choose from. THIS is a reflection of why I love The Health Food Shoppe so much, beyond just this deli. Their business was started by someone GF looking to make GF options available loooooong before GF was even remotely mainstream, and certainly before it was being blogged. :) Same idea as my blog- I started the concept of Gluten Free Fort Wayne to keep my info organized and to share with others. Many other businesses offer GF foods, but GF is the reason we have The Health Food Shoppe in the first place.
I promise you I'm done now.