Updated: Jan 13
Going out to breakfast, brunch (or any meal for that matter!) is such a treat. Our family used to LOVE to do breakfast out on Sundays, pre-Celiac diagnosis. Nine years ago, when my daughter first went Gluten Free, there were just no options. Like so many of you, I learned to perfect my GF pancake recipe at home and we made the best of it. These days, while many restaurants serving breakfast now offer a "gluten friendly" menu items such as GF pancakes and toast, they are not safe for Celiacs or the highly gluten sensitive. The risk of cross contamination is very high - shared griddles, toasters, prep areas - it's just not going to work for this crowd. It's no secret that gluten free bread toasted in a toaster used for wheat bread, is not gluten free. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing GF Pancakes on a menu, only to learn that they cannot be prepared safely!
This week, Crack'd Kitchen & Coffee opened its doors in Andover, MA. It's a scratch kitchen using farm fresh eggs from Maine, and other high quality ingredients. Breakfast is served ALL day and the lunch and dinner items (available after 10:30am) are mouthwatering as well. You may have heard the buzz around town or read the glowing article in the Andover Townsman. What the paper failed to report, is that Crack'd Kitchen is changing the game for gluten free dining available in our local area (seriously, it was never mentioned!). There is an extensive, Dedicated Gluten Free Menu....
Not a few select items that can be made gluten free...EVERYTHING on their menu, with a few very minor exceptions, can be ordered gluten free. But the question remained, how is it prepared? Is it safe from cross contamination?
I spoke to Owner, Danny Azzarello via phone earlier this week to find out more about how is gluten free food is prepared. Do you recognize his name? Danny is the former Director of Culinary Operations at Burtons. In his tenor, he developed their rigorous gluten free protocols. Inspired by a young family member with Celiac disease, Danny set out to make sure that people with Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity could eat out safely, and eat well. Bottom line - he gets it. Danny has built his open concept kitchen to accommodate safe gluten free food preparation.
He has two dedicated griddles; one for for GF buns and sandwich rolls, another for pancakes, eggs, etc. His staff are trained to understand how the food needs to be prepared, and he provides designated (purple!) cutting boards and knives for gluten free food. To further alleviate the chance for cross contamination, Crack'd ONLY serves GF pancakes (he uses King Arthur GF flour, which I personally use and trust), and you won't find croutons on his Greens & Grains menu. Danny feels it's just not worth the risk. When ordering, be sure to tell your server that you want your food gluten free. They front line staff could not have been nicer or more helpful!
So, now that we know it's safe, lets talk food! Yes, you can get a great breakfast here, but also so much more. This is NOT your average greasy spoon. The menu consists of Egg Sandwiches served on GF Country Toast or a GF Bun OR over Arugula), Toasts, Bowls, Greens & Grains, Smoothies, fruity mixed seltzers, and fun coffee drinks and of course pancakes! I met a friend for lunch at Crack'd yesterday and here's what we tried:
Sunny Chorizo Bowl
This was PERFECTION! Both my friend and I ordered this and we were not disappointed. Perfectly cooked sweet potato hash, with spinach and red pepper and savory chorizo, tomato, and feta topped with a farm fresh over easy egg. I added tabasco for extra kick - they have many hot sauces and their own ketchup blend to choose from, if that's your thing. Makes a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Since we both HAD to have the Sunny Chorizo Bowl, we decided to split this dish so we could try something else! SO.GOOD. This is one of their Egg Sandwiches, we opted to order it over Arugula (watching our carbs!), which was super fresh. No wilty greens here!
The Surfside Burrito is a fresh mix of scrambled egg whites, ripe avocado, tomato, corn, black beans & cheddar served over delicate baby arugula and topped with a tangy, creamy salsa. Very satisfying!
While I REALLY wanted to try the pancakes, we were just too full! I will definitely be back soon with my gf pancake connoisseurs :). *Note: Pancakes are made with Almond Milk*
GF Mac n' Cheese
I decided to grab some take out Mac n' Cheese, so the family could weigh in on this review (and so I didn't have to make dinner last night!). What a treat! I brought home the BBQ Mac and the Country Mac n' Cheese. Both were shareable portions and my kids devoured them. My husband was spared only the smallest portion of the Country Mac n' Cheese (oops!).
The BBQ Mac is loaded with tender BBQ pulled pork and topped with GF crumbs...down home goodness with the perfect mix of sweet and savory.
The Country Mac n' Cheese is lighter and a bit more refined, with spinach, tomato and feta, topped with crunchy GF crumbs.
Danny uses Barilla Gluten Free Penne, which we both agreed holds up better than most GF pastas. The sauce in both dishes was light, cheesy, and delicious. Hard to pick a favorite here..there's also a Bacon Egg & Cheese Mac that looked amazing!
With the majority of their menu items priced at $8.95 and under, Crack'd Kitchen & Coffee is not only serving amazing gluten free food, but it's a great value. The Mac n' Cheese is priced slightly higher at $10.95, but worth every penny!
We tried each order a mixed Seltzer Drink - yum. The Lemon Sparkle (Lemonade, Sustainable Seltzer, add strawberry or blueberry) and the Ginger Spice (Ginger, Sustainable Seltzer, Spiced Honey, Tumeric, Lemon) were both refreshing and a perfect compliment to the meal.
Seating is limited, so if you plan to dine in, allow extra time. They are BUSY, so if you want to save time, call in your order ahead of time. Be sure to tell your server that your order is Gluten Free.
Crack'd Kitchen & Coffee
319 Lowell Street, Andover, Massachusetts 01810
Monday - Friday: 6:30am-8pm Saturday: 7am-3pm Sunday: 7am-2pm
I hope you enjoy this restaurant as much as I did. Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you ordered! I will be back soon for those pancakes ; )