Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RAYA

We attempted to get away.  Dropped the dog at the doggie hotel and the kids at my sisters and we booked a night at the Ritz in Laguna Nigel.

The restaurant Raya is the brainchild of Chef Richard Sandoval and under Executive Chef Andres Jimenez it is run by Restarant Chef Marissa Gerlach.  It overlooks the Pacific in a quiet yet casual setting.

Their menu is marked with those items that are Gluten Free (always a nice start).  I let our waitress know that I had a gluten allergy and she said she would let the chef know.

They asked if we would like bread as they had bread plate but could bring out GF bread for me.  On with the bread, it was hot and freshly toasted, it was delicious - and it was Udi's of course.

I wanted to start with the smoked swordfish with pickled jalapenos that was marked as GF.  Not knowing where the corn tortilla chips came from I asked for cucumber slices instead.  Our waitress returned to say the Chef was putting on a pot of oil and would make my chips separate.  Well the dip was great with the cucumbers and the chips.

On to the soup.  They offered a pumpkin coconut soup.  It was a light and refreshing soup, not a thick bisque but with more texture than a broth.  It had a flare of thai cuisine but the topping gave off some heat in the Mexican style noted through the menu.

Dinner I had the Chimchurri Jidori Chicken.  Delicious.  This was over a bed of rice, kale, pomegranate and apples.  It was perfect blend of savory and sweet with a combo of textures that was over the top.

Chef Marissa even took the time to come out to see us at the end of the meal.  I hope I let her know not only how good the food was, but how impressed I was by the extra time and effort she took to prepare my meal due to my gluten allergy.

I would definitely go back and would recommend dinner at Raya to anyone staying in the area.

The only downside I had on the trip was breakfast.  Hate to cast a cloud on a great meal but breakfast with a new staff was a different story.  I let the waitress know about the gluten allergy.  I ordered an omelet with capers and salmon.  She offered the fruit instead of the potatoes but unfortunately they were out of the GF bread.

Out comes the plate from the runner.  I questioned the potatoes - a bit too crisp.  "Are they GF?", yes I was told.  "Are the cooked in a pan or a deep fryer?", fryer I was told.  Me, I won't eat anything out of a fryer for fear of cross contamination.  At this point I had eaten about half of the omelet and realized the capers were crunchy.  I cook my capers in a small fry pan at home but the fear settled in - would they cook them in the fryer?

Out comes the manager.  Yes, the potatoes are fried and they would bring the fruit that was supposed to come out instead.  And, Yes, the capers were fried in the fryer - Shit.  Out comes the Chef who apologized.  They comped the meal.  Luckily,  it didn't hit me too hard - a bit funny in the belly but otherwise okay - hopefully my intestinal lining isn't destroyed because I have had a few good months.

So, Raya.  Definitely go for dinner - you will be happy you went.  As for breakfast - I would go elsewhere or order plain eggs in a fry pan.  They said they would take in consideration marking the menu for breakfast with safe GF items and being the Ritz I would expect that in the future they will be extremely aware of the diners allergies.

The Un-Gluten Guy

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