Freeman’s Does Gluten-Free!

Visited On: December 7, 2012
Gluten Free Menu: Yes
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude:
Variety of Gluten-Free Options:
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating:
Price Range: $10-$20, plus drinks, tax, and tip

Last month, we visited Freeman’s Little New York on Quinpool Road with some family members. (They also have locations on Grafton Street downtown and in Fairview.) I was fairly surprised when we sat down and there was a sign advertising new gluten-free pizzas! When a server came by to take our drink order, I asked about toppings, and was even more surprised when she said they had a gluten-free menu.

The surprises continued when I saw the two page menu, which you can check out here. It’s one of the most comprehensive menus I’ve seen in a while, and the prices are the same as the regular menu. (The gluten-free menu is available for takeout too!) The first page of the gluten-free menu offers four appetizers (including nachos), two soups, four salads, and four entrées (including a hamburger on a gluten-free bun). The second page lists three specialty pizzas, as well as an option to build your own, with a list of 26 gluten-free toppings! There is also a list of gluten-free sauces and salad dressings, which I thought was a nice touch, since so many condiments have gluten. At the bottom of the second page, there is a statement that they are not a wheat-free facility and cannot guarantee that their items are wheat-free, but the server seemed quite helpful so I was willing to give the pizza a try.

I ordered a custom medium pizza with bacon and extra cheese ($16.99). (I was kind of overwhelmed by all the options, to be honest! Add that to being starving and I’m sure to go with something safe.) My fellow diners all had various gluten-containing pizzas ($10.99 for a small, $16.99 for the medium), except for my father-in-law who ordered the chicken clubhouse with fries ($12.99). Everything arrived pretty quickly. I was impressed to see that my medium was actually the same size as everyone else’s – Mike and I probably could have shared it for dinner. There was a ton of bacon on the top (although we all agreed that their bacon had an odd texture like ground beef) and plenty of cheese. The dough was a bit grainy and doughy, but it certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had.

Everyone else’s meals were great. Their pizzas are amongst the best in town, and their clubhouse was fresh and tasty with lots of fries on the side. We were so stuffed that we didn’t even bother checking out the dessert options. However, there are lots of things on the gluten-free menu that I’d still like to check out. I’m looking forward to a gluten-free burger and a famous Freeman’s shake!

Freeman’s Little New York
6092 Quinpool Road (Halifax)
902- 429-0241
Website:
http://www.freemanspizza.ca

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  1. #1 by Dave on January 22, 2013 - 8:20 pm

    Wow…speaking as an ex-New Yorker, this is fantastic news!!

    I’m concerned about the pizza. How was it prepared? Did they put it on the floor of the oven, where the other gluten pizzas are prepared? Did they use clean GF utensils to cut it, prep it, etc? Their disclaimer language was not the most inspiring in terms of my hope for them to be vigilant about cross-contamination, know what I mean?

    • #2 by glutenfree4hfx on January 22, 2013 - 9:36 pm

      Yes, their menu has lots of exciting stuff on it! The impression that I got is that they do everything they can to meet gluten-free requests, but they aren’t a gluten-free kitchen so they can’t make any guarantees.

      PS: There was a typo about the price of the medium non-gluten free pizza. Both mediums are $16.99. Sorry about that – it’s fixed now!

  2. #3 by Dave on January 22, 2013 - 8:27 pm

    Also, you said their GF pizzas were the same price as their non-GF pizzas, and you said your medium pizza was $12.99. On their GF menu, the price for their 12″ medium pizza is listed as $16.99. Might want to check that bill a little more closely 😉

  3. #4 by Dave on January 25, 2013 - 3:51 pm

    Thanks. I just wanted to clarify the GF situation at Freeman’s in terms of cross contamination, and emailed back and forth with Laurel Harrington, the owner. This is what she had to say (read our conversation from the bottom upwards):

    From: Laurel Harrington
    To: Dave K.
    Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 1:19 PM
    Subject: Re: question about gluten free items

    🙂 my pleasure & thanks for the kind words!

    Re: other locations… I own all 3 locations… And yes, we have taken the same steps training at all stores.

    Re:oven baked fries… Im sure you’ll have no trouble… Just let your server know that you can have them in the fryer because of flour contamination & ask her to arrange for them to be baked in the pizza oven instead.

    Thanks again for asking, i always love an opportunity to connect & get feedback!

    Have a sensational weekend & hopefully we will see you soon!

    Kindest regards, laurel

    Laurel Harrington
    http://www.freemanspizza.ca

    On 2013-01-25, at 8:10 AM, “Dave K.” wrote:

    > Laurel,
    >
    > Thank you very, very much for taking the time to compose such a detailed and informative reply. I really appreciate it, and I wish other restaurants that offer a GF menu would take the time to do likewise (I’ve had a few where I’ve had no reply at all).
    >
    > I want to start by saying I completely understand your dilemma in whether or not to offer a GF menu. As someone with celiac, I admire and appreciate ANY restaurant that makes the attempt. While some celiacs restrict themselves to restaurants that are strictly GF and *can* guarantee 100% GF food, I have chosen to restrict myself to restaurants that, while not able to guarantee 100% GF due to the presence of non-GF food, are at least fully aware of celiac issues/cross-contamination, and that make every possible effort to be 100% GF when preparing a GF food order. I would say the majority of celiacs are similar to me in terms of their attitude toward restaurants, so it’s great to see restaurants that understand this concept and make the effort. There’s no greater joy for me, as a celiac, than to find a restaurant like this, and I’m glad you and Freeman’s understand this idea.
    >
    > After reading your reply, I just have a couple of follow-up questions, if you don’t mind:
    >
    > 1. I notice there’s more than one Freeman’s location. Do you speak for all of them in terms of their staff training/food handling/utensil cleanliness practices when it comes to GF food preparation? Are they all equally safe (at least as safe as can be, while keeping in mind the “no guarantees” idea)?
    >
    > 2. You mentioned that your husband has oven-baked french fries on parchment paper. If I were to walk into any Freeman’s, could I order the same thing, and would the staff know how to deal with the request?
    >
    > That’s all I need to know. Incidentally, I’m actually (ironically enough) a native New Yorker–I was born and raised in Manhattan and lived there for the first 30 years of my life, and like any New Yorker was practically reared on pizza…so I’m looking forward to a trip to my hometown’s namesake here in Nova Scotia to sample its fare 😉
    >
    > Again, thank you very much for your reply–colour me impressed.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Dave
    >
    >
    > From: Laurel Harrington
    > To: DK
    > Cc: John Bachmann ; Chris Mackler ; marie robinson ; Kevin ; Patrick Leclair
    > Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 2:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: question about gluten free items
    >
    > Good morning!
    > Thanks for reaching out to us with your questions… I hope I can put your mind at ease 🙂
    > We created a gluten-free menu to try and assist our customers with gluten intolerance. We find that the majority of the people that use our services are choosing gluten-free as a lifestyle choice as opposed to a severe allergy. I must stress that since we are not a gluten-free facility, we cannot guarantee that any menu item is completely free of allergens.
    >
    > My husband has a severe Gluten Allergy… so we are all to familiar with the need to train our staff to handle the food properly. I’m happy to say, we eat at the store most nights… and his stomach is in great shape!
    >
    > We take a number of precautions to make our Gluten-Free items as safely as possible for customers with gluten intolerance.
    > & have created a gluten-free menu (available online at http://www.freemanspizza.ca) with items that our staff are able to easily prepare without contacting floured surfaces.
    >
    > Pizza: our gluten free crust is prepared off site, and prepared & cooked on its own disposable aluminum pan.
    > Our cooks have been trained on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, and using dedicated cooking utensils for preparation.
    > Everything is made to order, and the aluminum pan that is used, helps to ensure that gluten-free crusts never make direct contact with the oven/prep table.
    >
    > you asked about french fries… Fried Foods… we do not have a dedicated fryer for gluten-free items.
    > Unfortunately, we have space and time constraints that prevent that from occurring. You’ll see on our menu that there are no gluten-free items that are prepared in the fryer.
    > My husband often orders “oven baked” fries with his meals… and we simply warm in the oven on parchment paper.
    >
    > We also have gluten-free burger buns (one of our more popular gluten free options) … they come individually packaged, and again… the staff are acutely aware of the need of dedicated work surfaces.
    >
    > The only item that we prep in our fryers are Corn Chips. But they are made a couple of times a week… and blanched in the morning after the fryers have been cleaned out sanitized, & replaced with fresh oil.
    >
    > While we take every precaution to ensure cross contamination of ingredients does not occur, I must stress …. we are not a gluten-free environment. Due to these circumstances, we are unable to guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens. All that being said, we have been very successful at providing a delicious gluten-free items to many customers in particular those who choose gluten-free as a healthier choice.
    >
    > I hope this answers a few of your questions…
    > we had a hard time trying to decide if we should be offering a gluten-free menu… it comes with a real responsibility to maintain the integrity of the training processes & methods. Since we are not a gluten-free facility, we find that the majority of our customers that opt for gluten-free are making a lifestyle choice, and are not in a severe allergy position.
    > and that group is gaining momentum. We (as a family) are very thankful that more & more establishments are taking the time to incorporate gluten-free items… and felt the obligation to that within our stores too.
    >
    > Hope that answers some of your questions… feel free to drop me a line if there is anything further that I can do to be of assistance.
    > all the best, laurel harrington.
    >
    >
    >
    > Laurel Harrington
    > http://www.freemanspizza.ca
    > On 2013-01-22, at 11:30 PM, DK wrote:
    >
    >> Hi, I just read that Freeman’s has a gluten free menu. I have celiac disease, and although I’m excited to hear you have gluten-free food, I’d like to know if there are any cross-contamination issues there. For instance, just take the gluten-free pizza. Is it baked on the same oven surface as the regular pizzas? Do staff use the same utensils (pizza peel, cutter, etc) for both types of pizza, or are they trained to use clean utensils for GF pizzas?
    >>
    >> Or take GF french fries for example. Are they prepared in the same fryer with oil that’s been used for breaded items?
    >>
    >> I know that there are no 100% guarantees in a restaurant that serves both GF and non-GF items. However, depending on how the restaurant attempts to minimize the risk, there can be major differences in the safety of eating those foods for us celiacs.
    >>
    >> I’d be very interested if you could tell me a little about what steps and training are taken at Freeman’s locations to prevent cross-contamination.
    >>
    >> Thank you very much!
    >> Dave K.
    >

    • #5 by glutenfree4hfx on January 25, 2013 - 8:30 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I agree that the most important thing is awareness and the restaurant making every possible effort to avoid cross-contamination, just as we do at home. It sounds like they’re doing a great job – hopefully you’ll get a chance to check it out soon. 🙂

  4. #6 by Dave on January 25, 2013 - 9:22 pm

    Definitely agree that awareness is huge. If I get a chance to go there (probably will get a chance in the next couple of weeks or so), I’ll try to remember to post my own review in the comments here. Incidentally, for anyone else reading this who may be wondering, I did ask Laurel if it was okay to post our email exchange publicly before posting it here.

  5. #7 by tribaljen on February 20, 2013 - 11:43 am

    The gluten free hamburger at Freemans was really good (I almost doubted the bun was gluten free) – definitely give it a try! I also tried the gluten free pizza at Bramoso recently (across from Freeman’s on Quinpool) and it was pretty good. It’s a thin crust, and it tastes really good on it’s own even without the toppings. Similar to Freemans with the possibility of cross-contamination from the regular pizzas, but they do cook the gluten free ones on parchment paper in the brick oven to reduce the risk. Stayners Wharf (on the waterfront) has a new menu with a lot of gluten free options marked as well as some that can optionally be made gluten free (a lot of it is the regular menu items that they modified to be gluten free all the time, like the pan fried haddock). Lots of great options!

    • #8 by glutenfree4hfx on February 20, 2013 - 5:38 pm

      Thanks for all the tips! I’ve tried Bramoso take out before and it was great, although I did not know about Stayners. Can’t wait to try it out!

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