Sunday, March 17, 2013

Char No 4 (Brooklyn)

Brunch can be a problem for gluten-free folks. You'd think eggs and potatoes would be easy but, what with toast, pancakes and such in the mix, cross-contamination is a worry. Thing is? Brunch is basically a sport in NYC, and not being able to participate can feel like a social liability. 

So I was beyond excited to hear that a restaurant near me, Char No 4, might be a celiac-safe spot. A new member of my Booklyn Gluten-Free Meetup group shared that he'd dined there successfully - and had heard that a relative of the owner has celiac, always a good sign. After emailing with the restaurant about GF options, I decided to make a reservation via OpenTable for brunch on my birthday, noting my gluten-free needs in the "special requests" field. A whiskey bar with southern-inspired American fare, I knew Char No 4 would please my non-celiac friends, too. 

We decided to do early-ish brunch in the hopes of avoiding crowds, but even at noon it was pretty darn busy. So glad I'd made a reservation on OpenTable! Upon check-in, the host said she'd alert the waiter to my gluten-free needs. We only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, but still really appreciated that a Char staffer was over within a minute to offer us ice water while we waited. A good sign, we said aloud - and it was; the service was excellent throughout, even though the place was PACKED by the time we left. 

Upon being seated, I started to ask our server about the gluten-free options and he said that he was gluten-free, too - a birthday miracle! Wanting to ensure a happy rest of my birthday, I asked him to just pick something for me from the safest options on the menu. Result: a roasted red pepper and cheese omelette with some outstanding potatoes, sans fried scallions, which are dredged in flour prior to cooking. 

Simple. Delicious.

Food was great, the Char folks kept our mugs full of excellent coffee, and - huzzah - I felt fine after! 

Bottom line: I've finally found a safe gluten-free brunch spot in my 'hood. Not only did I eat well and safely, it was a no-fuss affair. I wish more restaurants in Brooklyn would use OpenTable - makes explaining your gluten-free needs so much easier! 

Char No 4 is located at 196 Smith St. (between Baltic and Warren), Brooklyn, NY. 718-643-2106

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