Restaurant Review: Gluten Free at Ostra, Boston, MA

A seafood and celiac-safe sleek dining destination in Boston, Ostra plays with both surf and turf, with a seasonal menu whose subtlety is serious as its chef's care for avoiding cross-contamination.


Ostra is beautiful. Before you even see your plate, the high ceilings and silver tones of the interior evoke the sea; and they've somehow calibrated acoustics to allow voices and piano played from the entry way to wash more like waves than the racket of Niagara. But beauty and stellar seafood together wouldn't be a good match for me -- or many other autoimmune-abused diners -- if the chef and kitchen weren't so conscientious about safe food preparation. Ostra is one restaurant in which a gluten-free eater, and celiac, will never feel ostracized.

To summarize the stats of just why I felt safe dining out with celiac disease in a few sentences:  The hostess instantly recognized our reservation, and the term "celiac"; she assured us the server would check with us; and the chef would check with us if need be; and a note would be put on every order from our table. The server did check in with us. The server also walked without rush through all questions I had regarding the menu, from the gluten-free bread (baked in the same oven and same pans as non-gf bread) to the Salmon Tartare (easily modified to remove brioche) to the Roasted Quail (which  dish our server immediately also offered to remove the seriously dairy-and-gluten-filled mousse and replace it with made-to-order herb-roasted vegetables).

Recognition and time are an immediate green light and good sign when it comes to dining out with celiac in a non-gluten-free environment.

All that said, Ostra also prepares some of the loveliest and most precise food I've ever enjoyed.
salmon tartare, modified to be gluten free sans bread

My boyfriend, who does not suffer from celiac, ordered the tuna tartare;  I chose the salmon.  His, reportedly, was very, very good. The bread -- fresh-baked (for all those he or she who can tolerate gluten without taking it in the gut) was a ball knocked dead out of the park. Or so I got through hearsay.  Not that I missed it. I was enjoying my salmon too much, which came  smoking (smoked to order, no lies at Ostra); the server removed the dish lid to let it escape.

Though Ostra specializes in seafood, it serves steaks and poultry as well. I ordered quail. Not quite as inspiring as the salmon -- perhaps it missed its pomme mousse? But the vegetables, herbed and roasted, gave it a subtle side that shone.
Quail, modified to be gluten free sans mousse, plus
roasted vegetables & potato

High praise for the salmon entree. "Lots of restaurants do salmon. Not many do it well. Ostra did it really well."

Rarely do I get dessert in a restaurant, whatever end of the spectrum it lies on in terms of quality or cost. But Ostra even had a diary-free and gluten-free option: sorbet. Oy, sorbet? Again? That's generally my response too.

When one says: I can't eat gluten or dairy, whatcha got? They give you sorbet. Usually a berry of some sort.

coconut yuzu sorbet atop whipped macarons
Rather resignedly, I ordered sorbet. Coconut Yuzu. Ah! But they they did this subtle too; and I'll never write-off sorbet in all kinds again (only in specific kinds). This conception of the stuff was lovely. The chef balanced each scoop on miniature macarons, and the contrast of sweet, and a creamy texture, with the slight bite and crunch of the macaron, was wicked smaht.

So you wanna eat safe and good on a trek through the Hub? Got a date with an autoimune disorder or dietary restrictions you wanna impress? Or maybe you're looking for gluten-free food, and an ambiance of seashell beauty matched with excellent food? Ostra is it, mates.

My boyfriend took me out to this wicked smaht seafood spot. Adventures -- like meanders around the harbor, lit by evening city lights, are naturally gluten free; and they take a mite of planning. But food, much of it on the menus of a good restaurant, is not naturally gluten free; it requires effort and planning and care on the part of an entire restaurant's team. It was a joy to experience it downtown Boston at Ostra.



Fun outtakes from the review roll: 
#1 
A rather interesting fellow took me out on a date to this high-end seafood spot downtown Boston. Ostra, whose seasonal menu plays with both surf and turf, is not a dedicated gluten free environment. But like many serious chefs these days, its servers and food-creators take cross-contamination, modification, and celiac-safe edibles seriously.

#2
How do you end up in wicked smaht eateries in the Bahston downtown? go out with a wicked smaht bloke on a daring date

#3
Got celiac? don't get Ostra-cized at Ostra. 

#4
...nevermind. Humor is humor, but its key is proportion, and these are getting to be overkill.

Tumbling Free!

CJ



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