Gluten Free: Chicago's Bountiful Eatery Lives Up to its Name
Bountiful Eatery in Lakeview offers an entirely gluten-free menu, but its appeal comes from fresh, healthy fare that just happens to be devoid of gluten. In fact, the restaurant also caters to carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, the calorie-conscious, and wallet-watchers. Bacon coexists with tofu, proving there's something for just about anyone here.
In a low-key café setting, you can choose from soups, salads, pita wraps, grilled selections, quinoa bowls, smoothies, and side dishes. I was happily overwhelmed with options, but decided the rare opportunity to eat pita bread (courtesy of Rose's Wheat Free Bakery) meant the more virtuous salads could wait for a future visit.
For a heartier entrée, I tried the Bison Pita Burger ($9.99), a 1/3 pound patty wrapped in the same pita and piled high with raw spinach and tomatoes. While it's usually paired with a creamy yogurt spread, I opted for the chipotle lime dressing and avocado to avoid dairy. The burger erred on the side of over-cooked, just a bit dry for an already lean meat. However, the chewy pita and zesty vinaigrette helped compensate.
Grilled items come with a choice of side dish and the chickpea salad was a delicious decision. A generous portion of chickpeas were tossed in virgin olive oil with sweet yellow raisins, mint and shredded carrots. While bean salads are often unmemorable, this chickpea combo made a lasting impression.
The Turkey Avocado Wrap ($8.99) refuses to be contained by the surrounding pita bread. A heaping portion of crunchy romaine, strips of turkey breast, ripe avocado slices, and red onion slivers spill out the sides, requiring two hands and a well-placed napkin. A chipotle-lime dressing might dribble down the sides, but it also adds a welcome hint of sweet and spice. The pita itself is a gluten free miracle, a textural twin to the traditional version. Overall the wrap is filling and flavorful, a feat at only 266 calories.
Dessert is usually a sore spot for gluten and lactose-free diners and more often than not, I find myself staring at a sad dish of sorbet. At Bountiful Eatery, dessert is a practically a cause for celebration. The sweets also come from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery in Evanston and they're worthy substitutes for the real deal. After a painstaking deliberation between the cupcakes, brownies, and Vegan Raspberry Bar ($4), I chose the latter and dove in. Even without the crutch of flour or cream, the bar delivered a firm crust and creamy middle layer topped with a sugary crumble and drizzle of raspberry jam. Tofutti cream cheese might be considered false decadence, but it tasted like a genuine treat.
Whether you're gluten-free, dairy-free, meatless or diet-centric, you'll be well-fed at Bountiful Eatery.