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Monday, December 31, 2007


Gobo II

A few years ago, I stumbled onto Gobo, in the Village, on the recommendation of a British friend. He had an impeccable food sense (read: really picky) and a strong stubborn streak for fiercely independent places. He was right, in this case.

Gobo has a meticulously beautiful aesthetic, with warm lighting, long tables, and Buddha statues interspersed throughout the dining room. I enjoyed that dinner more than any other in New York during that visit three years ago. This time, now that I have to find gluten-free food, I assumed they might be able to help me, given their vegetarian mission.

So my friend Kari and I sat down for lunch. After she took off her coat, I asked her where she had found her elegant scarf. "France," she said, surely referring to one of the many trips she makes to France with her fiancé.

"Ah, of course," I said, already laughing. "Those French. They do everything well."

At this moment, our tall, blond waiter approached the table and leaned down toward us obsequiously, and said, in an outrageous French accent, "'ello. My name is Matthew. I will be your waiter...." Before we could unfreeze our faces, he broke back into his flat American twang. "Nah, I'm just kidding."

I knew we'd be okay.

Much of the menu, as I scanned it, seemed possible. They serve organic, vegetarian food in small plates, from a variety of cuisines around the world. It's not quite raw cuisine, but it's close. After all, they call themselves "Food for the Five Senses," and that's not an exaggeration. More is at play at Gobo than simply serving customers meals, fast. There are organic juice cocktails, Vietnamese spring rolls, slow-cooked Malaysian curry stews, and desserts bereft of refined white sugar. I thought I would be fine.

But still, I had to ask. So I went into my typical spiel, a little obsequious myself, but firm. Before I reached the point where I have to explain what the heck gluten is, Matthew looked over my head to the hostess and said, "Honey, can I have the gluten-free menu?"

Oh my. I never knew how happy this would make me, before I stopped eating gluten. To have a restaurant that truly cares about food care enough to know the meals that I can eat? Well, let's just say I'm a generous tipper.

Better yet, when I asked the waiter if I could take pictures -- explaining about my website and why I write about this -- Matthew said, "Wait, what's the name of the site?" I gave him this address, and he said: "Oh, my best friend can't eat gluten. She's on your site all the time."

Now that was exhilarating.

And the food? Superb. We lingered for a long time, with avocado tartare, rice-pasta lasagna in a dark red sauce, and pineapple soaked in rum caramel and topped with vanilla ice cream.

This is not deprivation.

401 Avenue of the Americas (we all know that's 6th Avenue)
(there's also another one on the Upper East Side now)



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