Wheat Be Gone!

People with gluten allergies will love Gourmet Girls, glitches aside

If I had gluten issues, I would rejoice at the presence of Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery/Bistro.

The bakery part has numerous choices: artisan breads, pizza shells, cupcakes, bread crumbs, cakes, muffins, bagels, gourmet and nongourmet cupcakes, pies, crostini and much more. Seriously: The number of choices is amazing. On one visit, the baker was filling the cases as we ate our meal, so the items are obviously fresh. There was a steady stream of customers picking up baked goods on both visits.

The bistro part uses many of those baked goods to make breakfast and lunch items. The French toast ($7) is made with cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread. The grilled cheese ($6.50) is made with a dense, multi-seeded bread. The turkey club ($9.50) is served on baby baguettes. Breakfast and lunch are served all day, which is nice: You can get what you want, when you want it.

Lush herbs sit in pots just outside of the front door, greeting you with their aromas. Inside, the walls are painted in cheerful colors. Splashed on one wall in large letters is: "Indulge yourself again," referring no doubt to all those goodies in the bakery display case.

Fortunately, I don't have problems with gluten, and when I tasted the various offerings, it made me appreciate the role that it plays in food. Many of the things we ate were good, but there was a decided difference in all of them. For those who eat gluten-free, this little eatery must seem like a blessing, but I'm not sure whether Gourmet Girls will attract those of us who don't mind gluten.

The grilled cheese is a perfect example. The bread was delicious, but a little dry, and maybe 2 inches square: This was a tiny sandwich. To top it off, there was hardly any cheese between the bread slices. Even though it came with a mess of greens tossed with a really nice balsamic dressing, I walked away hungry. All of this was served on a good-sized plate, which made the serving look even smaller. A smaller plate might've helped the eyes fool the stomach.

The open-faced turkey club on a baby baguette ($9.50) was a bit more satisfying, but was still small for the price. The avocado on top was a nice addition, but the other ingredients were nothing special. It was served with fresh fruit.

Our breakfast choices were the French toast ($7) and a waffle ($6.50), both of which were served with a maple syrup/agave syrup blend on the side.

The French toast came in a decent portion, but was dry and had an odd flavor I couldn't identify. We did like the waffle: It was both light and full of texture—and it absolutely filled the small plate on which it was served.

We tried several of the baked goods: a nutty brownie ($4); a chocolate chip cookie, half of which was dipped in chocolate sauce ($2); a gourmet peanut butter and bacon cupcake ($5); and a regular chocolate, cinnamon and mocha cupcake ($3).

The brownie was moist and full of nuts. The cookie was packed with chocolate chips, and the sauce on the outside was just sweet enough. The cupcakes, however, disappointed. While the gourmet version had a bit of bacon on top and a creamy chocolate filling, it was dry. The other cupcake had more moisture, yet it lacked the promised flavors.

And then there was the service: At breakfast, an owner waited on us, so things were fine. But on our first visit for lunch, it was obvious that the server needed more training. We'd barely sat down before she was at the table with silverware—but no "Hello" or "How are you?" She seemed to have trouble taking care of the few tables that were occupied. A little bit of instruction here would go a long way.

Many people think that gluten is found only in breads, pastas and the like, but it can be hidden in vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, soups, salad dressings, candies, beer, hot dogs, cold cuts and much more—so avoiding gluten can be harder than most of us think. Thank goodness that Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery/Bistro is offering tasty choices for people with gluten issues, and maybe some more healthful choices for the rest of us.