“Almost heaven, West Virginia,” John Denver did say. And that’s true, I have found some wonderful gluten-free food at the Press Room restaurant in Shepherdstown, WV. But I found gluten-free heaven itself in Tacoma, Washington – at Woody’s on the Water.
Upon our arrival in Tacoma, I searched online for a restaurant nearby where my gluten mongering spousal-type unit, David, could get fish and chips, and I stood a fraction of a chance to find something free of wheat, soy, and the fourteen other foods that I can’t tolerate. I didn’t go into it feeling very hopeful. Most of the restaurants I found were extremely pricey, and the menu selections were certainly not geared to my dietary needs. Then I found the Woody’s on the Water website – and saw, right in the left-hand side navigation bar that they had a gluten-free menu. “This is the place!” I told David. Finally, I was looking forward to eating out somewhere – but of course, I had a tinge of skepticism.
Off we went. We followed the signs to Woody’s and arrived quite easily at the Thea Foss waterway. Woody’s was next to the stunning waterfront Museum of Glass. The outside of the restaurant is modern, with a large dockside patio.
Woody's on the Water, Tacoma, WA
The inside is sophisticated yet still cozy, with a trendy atmosphere. If I hadn’t seen the prices on the online menu myself, I would have thought this was a place at which I couldn’t afford to dine.
The Bar at Woody's
We were greeted by a cordial hostess at which time I requested the gluten-free menu. It’s not part of the regular menu – it is completely separate. The table was clean, nicely set, and intimate.
Intimate Booth at Woody's on the Water, Tacoma
One of the owners, Thomas, came over. We discussed the gluten-free menu at which time he told me his daughter was gluten intolerant, so he understood the dilemmas of finding good restaurant food. He even offered us two different gluten-free beers. It was the first time, that I felt relaxed and confident ordering gluten free food in a restaurant. That was a really nice feeling.
I had the House Salad to start. The Balsamic Bleu Cheese dressing was an excellent and harmonious combination of flavors. David had the clam chowder, which he said was the best he’d had since our stop in Newburyport, Massachusetts three years earlier.
A huge plateful of Smoked Salmon Pasta arrived before me. Perfectly cooked rice pasta, salmon, onions and cream sauce graced my palate with flavors which rivaled the best of New York City Italian cuisine. David thoroughly enjoyed his monstrous serving of Fish and Chips as well. We shared a Crème Brulee for dessert, although Woody’s offered a few other gluten-free specialty desserts. Including our micro-brewed root beers, this entire meal was under fifty dollars.
The next morning our business meeting ended at eleven. We needed to be in Vancouver that night. It was a no-brainer: Woody’s for lunch.
I had the Smoked Salmon and Fresh Blueberry Salad. The portion was enormous, and delicious. Although I did enjoy it – I frankly preferred the Balsamic Bleu Cheese dressing from the evening before. David got a bowl of the clam chowder. I had to sneak a taste of it – it really was as good as he raved. And I grew up in New England, so I should hope that I am a good judge!
My opinion in a nutshell: Woody’s on the Water is loaded with atmosphere at an elegant location, serving gourmet level food at affordable prices. Their Gluten-Free menu offers an excellent selection of entrees, appetizers, desserts and even beer. We were only in town eighteen hours, but we managed to eat at Woody’s twice. That’s really how good it is.
K. S. Brooks is an author, photographer and guest blogger for CeliacChicks.com.
Gluten-Free menu: http://www.woodystacoma.com/index.php/menus/glutenfree/