Thursday, April 17, 2014

Riviera Bistro

12801 Shops Pkwy., Ste. #200
Bee Cave, TX 78738
(512) 263-2960
Tue-Thu: 11am-2pm
Tue-Thu: 5-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-3:30pm
Fri-Sat: 5-10pm


Riviera Bistro

The relative quickness with which people who have suffered from gluten-related intolerances for years without really understanding them but then come to some clarity is quite remarkable. No doubt the Internet and social media have played huge roles in this process. But restaurants have ramped up on gluten-free offerings as well, and the Riviera Bistro at the Shops at the Galleria in Bee Cave is offering a 100% gluten-free environment. And most critically, the food is quite good.

Gluten-free does not mean taste free. One dinner at Riviera will show you that. I love the Calamari which is lightly fried and breaded, and served with your choice of marinara, remoulade or basil mayo. Seriously nice taste here. And if Meatballs are your forte, the offerings at Riviera are made from ground beef and pork, and baked with marinara and cheeses. Not only is this a gluten-free dish, it’s also low carb (perfect for me). And the flavors are subtle, but don’t lack the zest that accompanies good meatballs. There is also a chickpea focaccia flatbread called Cecina made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil. It’s also known as “farinata” in Italy, and it is free of any gluten and has a wonderful flavor. What a great idea. The soups at Riviera, and the Shrimp Bisque in particular, are always spot-on, as is the case at any good restaurant. We tried the Asparagus soup on the last visit, and it too was light with wonderful accents and flavors.

Of course you would expect to see salads at a gluten-free restaurant, and Riviera has some classy selections. Marge loved the Spinach Salad which begins with organic baby spinach, carrots, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, and topped with fresh prosciutto, roasted portobellos, red bell peppers and goat cheese tied together with a goat milk dressing. The Caesar is traditional but carried off very well nonetheless. The organic hearts of romaine were delicious, and the flavors nicely integrated.

The first thing I learned about gluten-free dining years ago was that Risotto (made from Arborio rice) was just fine. The Chicken Saltimboca makes great use of a wild mushroom risotto that really carries the dish. The Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin is another excellent choice. The pork comes in a brandy demi glace with asparagus and good old fashioned American mac and cheese. The pork is quite tender, and the flavors not in the least bit compromised.

The Gulf Shrimp is an absolute delight. It’s topped with an interesting orange butter sauce along with caramelized cauliflower, and I had only one thought as I finished this dish: “MORE!” Likewise the Shrimp Frites are fun served with a nice remoulade and grilled asparagus. You can order five or ten. Trust me: get the ten!

Gluten-free does not mean a compromise on desserts either. The Crepe with Chantilly Cream and seasonal berries is a great example of that. Likewise the Vanilla bean Crème Brûlée. I mean this is delicate and delicious as any good Crème Brûlée should be.

So for those who suffer from gluten intolerance this place is a little slice of Heaven. For the rest, it’s still a terrific spot to grab a nice meal.