July 5, 2011

Turley’s of Boulder Offers Guide to Their Excellent Gluten-Free Menu Items

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Some restaurants we’ve reviewed in and around Boulder indicate their gluten-free offerings by putting a symbol by them on the regular menu. Others create a standalone menu that lists every gluten-free item available. Turley’s, a well-established restaurant with a long history in Boulder, takes a different approach, one that falls both within and outside the methods used by other restaurants. They have a separate gluten-free menu, but it’s written with reference to the main menu. It is, in essence, a guide to the regular menu, indicating which dishes are gluten-free, or else listing the necessary substitutions to render a menu item gluten-free.

If you are looking for a gluten-free sandwich, for example, the gluten-free menu doesn’t list all the sandwiches on the regular menu. Instead, it says that all sandwiches save one (the open-face turkey) can be made gluten-free by substituting a rice bun for the regular bun, and that all wraps are available if the flour tortilla is replaced with a corn tortilla. We found this gluten-free guide, which is available in physical form at the restaurant and is posted on Turley’s website (a link is provided below), quite helpful during our recent visit to Turley’s. The full and regular menu is open to all, GF and non-GF diners alike, and this is made possible because of the helpful guide.

But enough about Turley’s unique approach to showcasing their gluten-free dishes – a menu guide is only as good as the food it leads you too. Fortunately, it does indeed lead to good food, as we had a very satisfying lunch during our visit. (More on that in a moment.)

Turley’s is a big restaurant that is easy to find, positioned as it is on the northeast corner of 28th and Pearl. There is bar area near the entrance, and to the left of this is a large dining room that can presumably accommodate the breakfast, lunch, and dinner (Turley’s offers all three) rushes with relative ease. Pursuant to our desire to revel in the perfect breeze outside, we opted to sit on the patio, which, fittingly, is also quite large. There are probably about 20 tables outside, meaning that it’s easier than you might expect to score an always-coveted-on-nice-days patio table.

After perusing the menu and its GF supplement, we were drawn to the breakfast dishes, which, awesomely, are offered all day long. Not everyone wants to eat breakfast before noon, and even if you do, you might still be inclined to have breakfast food for lunch or dinner. The point is that the option is always available, and in this nation of liberty lovers, Turley’s has an advantage over other restaurants that restrict their menu offerings to the cycles of the traditional eater.

The GF guide advised us that all of the omelets are gluten-free, provided a rice bun is substituted for the toast, buttermilk biscuit, or muffin that normally comes with it. We were willing to accept this substitution, so we ordered the California Omelet. We selected hash browns as our side, with the other options being fruit or home fries. Within about five minutes of placing our order, we were served. The efficiency was rather astounding.

We began by trying the rice bun, always curious to sample the gluten-free equivalent of a traditionally gluten-containing food. With a light spread of butter, we enjoyed the rice bun: it was soft and airy (i.e., not dense) on the inside, but the outside was toasted to a crisp, giving the bun a nice overall texture. While nothing spectacular (what side of toast served with breakfast ever is?), the bun was tasty, and it served its role as a side dish well. Next we moved on to the hash browns, which actually had a similar texture to the bun in that the top of the hash browns was crispy while the bottom layer was soft. Since a nice mix of crispness and softness is the soul of good texture, at least in many dishes, we thought the hash browns were cooked about perfectly. In a word, they were great, especially after adding the obligatory ketchup and (the equally obligatory, at least in our world) hot sauce.

The omelet was made with three eggs, which wrapped around generous portions of garden-fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and sliced avocado. (Black olives also come in the omelet, but we had these withheld for the simple reason that we just don’t happen to like black olives very much.) Mixed between these ingredients was melted cheese, a blend of jack and cheddar. The omelet was very good, one of the better ones we’ve had in awhile. The eggs were fried to the point of having faint traces of golden brown, just the way we like them, and the blend of tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocado went perfectly together. Like hot sauce, which we of course added to the omelet, avocado just seems to make everything better. Being made with three eggs, the omelet was a substantial meal, but if you’re not quite as hungry, Turley’s offers one-egg omelets for a significantly reduced price.

In addition to being delicious, Turley’s food is also well-suited to the demands of the archetypal Boulder eater, by which we mean the food can be modified with tons of adjectives that end in “free.” For example, the eggs used in our omelet were nest-fresh and cage-free, according to the menu, and the hens whence they came were raised without antibiotics, stimulants, growth-hormones, or chemicals. Basically, if Keith Richards were a hen, he (or is it she in this hypothetical?) wouldn’t be the source of Turley’s eggs. Moreover, Turley’s serves only meats that are as pure as the hens that supply them with eggs, and they also utilize a number of other organic foods (like organic dairy products) in their dishes. So, the food is good in multiple senses of the word “good.”

Turley’s gluten-free menu guide can be found here:

http://www.turleysrestaurant.com/Turleys-Gluten-Free-Choices.html

(It’s a little hard to read, but they have copies at the restaurant that are easier on the eyes.)

The gluten-free menu guide is just that, a guide to the menu, so you’ll want to check Turley’s menus too, which are easy to find on the main website:

http://www.turleysrestaurant.com/index.php

The restaurant itself can be found here:

2805 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80301

Note: This is the twenty-first article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant, try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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