Fresh Levant Bistro
I’ve been a huge fan of Lafayette Village in North Raleigh for about 2 years now. The variety of restaurants, the outdoor seating and the great location make it just perfect. Well, being someone with GI struggles, I found myself eliminating all kinds of foods lately, and when that happened…I was plum bummed out. I thought I was done dining out. I thought I’d have to cook for myself forever. The plan for this next 30 or more days includes a gluten free, dairy free, soy free and corn free trial. I wandered into Fresh Levant with a little hope and a lot of skepticism. They are a completely gluten free establishment but they have a full bakery case, they have bread items (including pita sandwiches and flatbreads) on the menu…what in the world could this place be? I’ll tell ya…it was pretty amazing.
It was a Wednesday, I was tired of cooking, I was hungry…and I had one of my favorite dining companions with me. We had a lovely table out back, and some delightful half price wine. They have a good selection – maybe 8 reds, 8 whites, some Rose…and a good variety of each. The prices are somewhere around $8-10/glass, which at half price, can’t be beat. We both ordered some delicious reds and started reading the very exciting menu.
To start, we ordered the hummus and pita. I was excited to find there are two options for pita – one is gluten free, one is vegan. The vegan one (surprisingly) is also nut, soy and corn free!!! What?? It was good. My dinner buddy is NOT on any kind of an elimination diet, and even she liked it. The hummus had a good flavor. Overall, I would have liked a little more salt in the dish (not sure if it was the bread or the hummus, but…salt would have been nice).
They have the pita for sale too – I got this 4 pack for $9 (not a bad price for some good GF/DF/CF/NF/SF…thats a lot of freedom from food…anyway, it’s good).
There were several tempting items on the menu. Each item had symbols next to it to inform the customer what dietary restrictions it could satisfy. THIS, the Levantine Salmon ($22) was the dish that my waitress said was the best of my picks. And it fit the bill for all of the freedoms I needed. The fish was cooked perfectly, the green beans were crispy and delicious, the spinach was sautéed beautifully…it was a delight. I did request salt (but I’m a salt fiend) for that something extra, but I usually do. I would go back tonight and eat it again, it was that good. I cleaned the plate.
Dinner companion ordered the blackened shrimp flatbread (called Man’oush). It’s not on the online menu, but I believe it was around $15. It had dairy, so I couldn’t taste the whole thing, but I did sample the crust and it was tasty! The shrimp were well seasoned, the toppings were interesting, overall it was a hit. She ate the whole thing too.
They also have an entire bakery case of delicious treats. We ordered the vegan chocolate cake. I was skeptical. I really was. It was delicious!!! Really, the cake was so moist, the frosting was perfectly sweet. I want to learn how to make it. And the rest of the case is no slouch either.
They have an anise apple cake that I had once – it was very good. Kind of savory and very flavorful. You can kind of see the vegan donuts on top – what? I was tempted, but so full. I couldn’t have eaten another bite.
Every item is labeled with dairy free or nut free (if they are), but all of them are gluten free.
I honestly can’t wait to go back. Maybe I can convince them to teach me how to bake some of their amazing desserts.