One of my best friends has a gluten intolerance, so I am always on the lookout for restaurants that offer GF menus or substitutions. Recently, Eater Boston updated their guide, "Where to Dine Gluten-Free in Boston," so of course, I shared it with her. The number one recommendation on the list was True Bistro in Teele Square in Somerville (which she had been to, but I had not) so we decided to make a reservation.
True Bistro is located at the corner of Broadway and Curtis Street, in the same intersection as two of my other go-to spots, PJ Ryans and Rudy's.
When we walked in, the host greeted us right away and walked us to our table. Every table in the dining room was draped with a white table cloth, which was much fancier than I was expecting.
To begin, we ordered a round of drinks, the El Diablo for her (tequila, blackberry liqueur and ginger beer) and a glass of white wine for me. I had a feeling our waiter wasn't on his A-game when he returned with her cocktail and a glass of red wine. I said, "I'm sorry, isn't the pinot gris a white wine?" He looked completely confused, whisked the glass away and then returned with the correct one.
Unfortunately, the El Diablo was a bust. She described, "This has a bit of a medicinal aftertaste. Definitely not my fave."
My dinner date insisted we get the French fries to start, which she promised were McDonald's level, and came with an addicting aioli. Who am I to say no to that?
The fries did not disappoint. The were thin, expertly crisped, and the aioli had this great cheesy / onion flavor that was irresistible. When we asked our waiter what they put in the dip to make it so tasty, he said, "Umm, it's a remoulade, that's really all I know." Womp womp.
Next we tried the seared romaine heart (this was weeks before the ban!) with warm lentils, whole grain mustard and croutons. I love seared / grilled romaine, so was really looking forward to this.
The lentils were the star of the dish. I really need to eat them more often! The croutons added a fantastic crunch. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more of the mustard dressing. Much like with Caesar salad, the whole reason for ordering it is the dressing.
We also shared the seared cauliflower, which was completely underwhelming. It felt like it wasn't really seasoned and it was missing a strong texture - grilled, charred - anything.
After a bit of a rocky start, our entrees brought redemption. My friend ordered the mushroom and winter squash risotto.
A few forkfuls in she said, "This is one of the best risottos of my life. I was full, but I kept going!" She continued, "I never would have thought to use delicata squash, with the skin on, but it added a sweetness that balanced the earthy mushroom flavor. I also really loved the pumpkin seeds, they delivered a satisfying crunch."
I decided on the shepherd's pie. As a vegetarian, it's rare to get to eat this dish, so whenever I see it on a menu, I feel compelled to order it.
True Bistro's version is a mix of root vegetables with smoked paprika, topped with crisped mashed potatoes and served with a side of celeriac. For me, this was the ideal portion size. The mashed potatoes on top were creamy and delicious and the veggies underneath were piping hot, nice and hearty, and with every bite I felt like I was being warmed from the inside out. The brightness of the celeriac (sort of tastes like green apple) helped cut the heaviness of the dish.
Though our waiter was a total novice, we really loved the French fries, the salad, and both of our main courses. I would absolutely go back and I'm eager to try more dishes.