I recently dined at Mezze, the small plates Mediterranean Restaurant in Fell’s Point. A friend told me he’d noticed they have a lot of gluten-free options so I had to check it out. I discovered that more than half of the 40 plus plates are gluten-free. The menu marks dishes that are gluten-free with two asterisks. One asterisk indicates the dish is vegan (but not necessarily gluten-free).
The food is amazing, but I had a hard time relaxing and trusting their gluten-free know-how. For example, the asparagus plate was marked gluten-free, but was topped with brown bread crumbs. I asked the server if they were gluten-free bread crumbs and he replied “No, the bread crumbs need to be left off the plate if you want it gluten-free.” I inquired about the fried items like Falafel and was told they’re fried in the same oil as the Spinach Fritters, which are not gluten-free. A final disappointment was the gluten-free Baba Ghanoush that I ordered came with a side of pita crisps for dipping. With a busy (and annoyed) server, I clumsily ate it with a fork.
The other thing that made me uneasy was the very nature of small plates, tapas-style dining: it’s meant to be shared. Sharing gluten-containing and gluten-free dishes can be tricky, especially when they come out in close succession and, as in our case, the wait staff doesn’t explain what plate is being dropped off. At our tiny table, we had ten small plates to keep track of. It would be helpful if the gluten-free plates could be marked or colored (this is asking for a lot, I know).