At last year's Washington DC Gluten-Free Expo, the most exciting piece of news to emerge from the event was that the DC area was getting its first dedicated gluten-free full service restaurant: Little Beet Table.
A New York City export, Little Beet Table serves up seasonally inspired fare in the rare restaurant environment that is completely free from gluten. Not only can they cater to celiacs and other gluten-intolerant diners, they have plenty of dairy-free options too.
Although they opened last November, I've been meaning to take the Metro red line journey to the restaurant's Friendship Heights location for some time. With Bethesda Magazine's annual winter Restaurant Week in full swing (January 10-19), I finally firmed up my plans, enticed by the promise of a prix fixe adventure through their menu offerings.
For Restaurant Week, Little Beet Table served up fixed-price lunch ($26), brunch ($24), and dinner ($37) options. As with their regular menu, vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free options were noted with small symbols next to each dish. I definitely debated between dishes for what to select for each course, which is the best possible feeling on one of these types of menus, as it so rarely happens that there are more than one safe gluten-free and dairy-free options!
Another amazing aspect of their menu, Little Beet Table has five (that's right, five!) gluten-free beers available that are locally sourced from BC Brewery in Hunt Valley. Read all about it over on their website. I do not drink, so cannot give a personal review, but nevertheless I think it's super cool to see this local partnership in action!
As my starter, I opted for the sunflower hummus. Interestingly, the dish is not made with traditional tahini, but instead used a sunflower seed base, which gives it a lovely flavor. I really liked the creamy, rich texture of the spread, and the addition of fresh za'atar herbs set it apart flavor-wise from other hummuses I have encountered. I also enjoyed the pool of fragrant olive oil centered in the spread, which provided a lovely, oily texture contrast to the spread and rounded out the Mediterranean flavor profile.
The hummus was paired with grilled pita bread, which in look, flavor, and form was hard to believe was gluten-free. The pita was soft, yet study and easily held up for scooping the hummus. It had a spot-on flavor profile, and no "off" gluten-free texture. The charred grill marks gave them a truly remarkable flavor that elevated the whole dish from a pairing of familiar flavors to a truly special appetizer.
For my main course, I opted for the Loch Durat salmon, which came out with a beautiful presentation. The delicious, tender fish was paired with roasted brussels and parsnip. These starring ingredients were presented over a lovely base of a mustard-apple jus, which artfully matched these two strong flavors into a lovely sweet and savory pairing.
I loved how seasonally in tune the dish was, showcasing some of my favorite fall flavors. It really showed off Little Beet Table's creativity in the kitchen, and made for a memorable entree that I won't soon forget.
To round out the evening (yes, there was more food to come!), I selected the gluten-free and vegan caramel chocolate tart. As with the other dishes, I really appreciated the artful presentation of the dish, and I likened the dessert to one of the masterwork paintings in the National Gallery of Art.
It featured a decadent chocolate tart chock full of almond and dates. Small bites were needed here to relish the rich flavoring and sublime pairing of the layers of tart and a richer, gateau-like frosting. Candied oranges provided a nice contrast in sweetness and tanginess and the flavor and creaminess of soy ice cream was a nice way to cut through the richness of the cake with a refreshing taste of vanilla. I really appreciated that the dessert was sweet, but not overly so, and was perfectly portioned so that it satisfied without being a weighty end to the meal.
Whether you are a DMV local or a visitor to the area, Little Beet Table simply must be at the top of your list of restaurants to visit if you are looking for a gluten-free meal at a table service restaurant. Not only do they assure peace of mind with an entirely gluten-free kitchen, but the creativity and quality of each dish I had reveals a food-focused ethos that looks beyond simply shedding gluten to elevating the seasons best flavors in truly inspired ways.
There's a lot of restaurants I can recommend for gluten-free diners in the area, but they now are all secondary to Little Beet Table, as it is a most welcome pioneer, filling the void of the type of dedicated gluten-free restaurants that make visiting New York City such I treat. I hope this is a indicator of a turning tide with more gluten-free spots to come, but in the meantime, am already eagerly awaiting my next visit.