Re-printed, with permission, from Celeste Beck, author Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free: The Quest for Gluten-Free Food in the South
Where: The Irregardless Cafe (901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, NC) has been a recognized leader in sustainable business practices since the restaurant opened in 1975. Chef/Owner Arthur Gordon was most recently awarded the City of Raleigh’s 2010 Environmental Award in the “Market Transformation” category.
As the Irregardless Cafe website’s “Green” page says, this establishment was “green before green was in.” I could mention their recycling/composting program, how they purchase biodegradable paper products, that they cater sustainable receptions such the Farm to Fork Summit, are a founding member of the Interfaith Food Shuttle, and how the restaurant building was rebuilt with recycled materials; however, I’ll just elaborate on their commitment to exceptional food. The following is taken from their website:
Organic & Local Food:
- Shop at local farmers market
- Use organic produce when ever available
- Herb garden next to kitchen
- Bread and dessert flour from Lindley Mills in Graham NC, since 1975
- Vegetarian & Vegan menu since it opened in 1975. Additional proteins: seafood, poultry, beef & lamb added to menu over the years.
- Meat & dairy products are free of antibiotics, added hormones and other drugs
- Fish & Seafood eco-friendly and healthy to eat
- Coffee organic, fair-traded and shade grown
Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Irregardless Cafe. Check out their “Events” page or join their Facebook group for the calendar of nightly entertainment by local musicians, wine dinners, evenings of dance, cooking classes, and more.
Gluten-Free Menu: Yes! The menu contains a visual key for Celiac/Gluten-Free items, displaying a small red flower next to each of the numerous GF options. The menu also indicates items for Diabetic and Vegan/Vegetarian diners. As General Manager, Seth Anderson, and Catering & Marketing Director, Anya Gordon, explained to me, the menu changes daily based on which produce and meats are seasonally available. Regardless of when you visit, the cafe now has gluten-free pasta available to substitute in most pasta dishes. Click HERE to view their current offerings.
What I ate: Heirloom Salad (appetizer) + Risotto with Mussels + Sesame Tuna + Chocolate & Strawberry Mousse (dessert). These were hearty portions; I shared these dishes with my long-time friend and award-winning photojournalist, David Y. Lee.
How to order it: View the daily menu offerings. Look for the Celiac/Gluten-Free symbol next to the menu items. Select. Enjoy.
What it looks like:
All local ingredients – fresh heirloom tomatoes (served at room temperature, which brings out the natural flavor), dreamy mozzarella cheese from a Chapel Hill creamery, basil leaves pinched from the herb garden planted just outside the restaurant’s kitchen, drizzled with a blueberry vinaigrette.
This parmesan risotto is the ultimate comfort food for GF diners. Banded with a ring of dancing black mussels, an incredibly complex flavor of sauteed white, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms blooms from within the creamy rice. The dish is topped with fresh shaved parmesan cheese and truffle oil.
Sesame crusted steaks of Yellowfin tuna, seared to taste. The tuna is the undisputed celebrity of this dish, but it is exalted to its lofty stardom by the supporting cast of wasabi mashed potatoes, cucumber salad, and the ginger and GF soy dipping sauce.
Chocolate and Strawberry Mousse. Made fresh, this cool concoction comes with thick, fluffy layers of mousse sprinkled with chocolate shavings, and is crowned with whipped cream and a local strawberry. Goes naturally with a cup of the Cafe’s unique coffee blend, which is locally roasted, organic, shade grown, and fair traded.