One of the hardest things about my job, post-celiac-diagnosis, is the food, because food abounds in this office, and we're also inundated with samples, special dinners, tastings and various other ways to gain weight. Our cup — and our plate — literally runneth over.
We have an editorial staff of six. Of those six, one is a vegan, one is a vegetarian and one sometimes doesn't eat all the meat things (it's complicated). That leaves three of us who are free to enjoy anything life, and our readers, throw at us. But of those three, I'm the Joey.
And then there were two.
Picture Joey Tribbiani unable to eat gluten, and there you have it. I still agreed to help Meaghan out with meat things, but I also now have the added complication of needing to be super clear that whatever I taste is gluten-free (when Kate, Meaghan and I grab a bite after work, it's like an opening to a bad joke, or the most predictable click bait ever: A vegan, vegetarian and celiac walk into New World Brewery... you can probably guess what happens next). So I approached the invite to eat at the popular 4 Rivers Smokehouse for National Brisket Day in May with some apprehension.
When we arrived, however, the chef had laid out a remarkable spread of food. Granted, I couldn't eat a lot of it, but the main attraction, the meat, was totally safe. As in, yes, I did get the meat sweats.
What were the high points?
The brisket, though not for me in particular. While I've never loved it, my fiancé, who is — I say this with love — the fussiest eater I know, did. I suspect churning out tons of the meat helps (in 2016, 4 Rivers sold 1.3 million pounds of the stuff). Brisket, by the way, is a fancy name for cow boob. True story. If I had to eat brisket, this would be the one; it simply isn't for me.
Prime rib, which can be fatty, but not here. A little fat is fine on prime rib, and that's what this had — just a little. Thinly sliced without a crumb of bread on the dish.
Brontosaurus rib. I don't know what they put on this, but it's worth ordering again and again. Also, it's huge. A normal person would be able to make a meal out of this. I'm not, as noted, normal, especially when it comes to meat. The restaurant sold more than 6,000 of the ribs (they come from cows, BTW) last year. This year, it should expect to sell more, based on my cravings alone.
Veggies. I know, but I love veggies done well, and these are done exceptionally well indeed. Any place that can grill decent Brussels sprouts gets my return business. I'll be back.
Dessert. OK, so we sat right next to the Sweet Shop, and I wanted to cry. Cupcakes, homemade Pop-Tarts, cakes and cookies, all filled with gluten. Then I learned the cookies were gluten-free. Granted, of the smorgasbord of sugar, I could only eat one thing, but damn, it was a good thing.
In the end? 4 Rivers doesn't exactly cater to those of us with celiac or gluten insensitivity issues, but there's no shortage of food we can eat.
Which I intend to do.
Email CL A&E Editor Cathy Salustri at [email protected].