Where: Lantern, 423 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Lantern, located in Chapel Hill, NC, is one of Gourmet America’s Top 50 Restaurants. Chef-owner Andrea Reusing was the 2011 James Beard award winner for Best Chef in the Southeast, has given a TedX talk on collaborating with small farms, and has written a new cookbook called Cooking in the Moment: a Year of Seasonal Recipes.
GF Menu: No. However, the menu instructs, “Please let us know about any food allergies.”
What we ate: Local heirloom tomato salad and spicy carrot soup for appetizers, Flounder and Salmon for entrees, and Panna Cotta for dessert.
How to order it: Lantern is famous for fusing Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients. The Lantern menu does an excellent job of listing ingredients, but since it is not marked specifically for food allergies, let your server know that you will be dining Gluten-Free, and ask for their recommendations.
Our server checked with the kitchen and marked our paper menu with all Gluten-Free options, acknowledging when and if soy sauce was used in a dish, to alleviate concerns we might have had about sauces. We had more than a dozen choices.
What it looks like:
This appetizer was art on a plate. Local heirloom tomatoes were drizzled with fine olive oil, then topped with shiso leaf, shallots, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper.
This summer carrot soup was served chilled, but it was warm with the exotic flavors of vadouvan curry.
The server asked whether I was comfortable with the whole fish being presented on the plate, and explained that some customers will request that the head be removed. Fresh and crispy NC flounder was served in the style of a Vietnamese fish dish.
Here’s the closeup of the fish. On top of the tender white meat and delicately fried fish skin were hot chiles, fresh turmeric, dill, fried shallots, the occasional cilantro leaf, and roasted peanuts. This is one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten, and according to our server, it is their most popular.
There were two gluten-free dessert options the night we visited. I was delighted with our choice of the cherry stone panna cotta. A cool and impossibly delicate panna cotta was garnished with Blue Ridge Mountain cherries and crunchy almond-sesame candy. Warning: you will not want to share this, so go ahead and get your own.
Green Note: Chef Andrea Reusing is a local luminary and a national leader in culinary sustainability.
From writing about “Egg Economics” in Gourmet magazine to organizing tours of a pollinator garden in Chatham Mills, NC, to hosting Farm-to-Table dinners to benefit Kitchen Patrol, her mission is clear. She aims to use locally-sourced ingredients from small organic farms and build community, all while educating others about sustainability. She also chairs the Triangle’s Slow Food convivium. These are just some of the reasons Chef Andrea was named one of “15 Green Chefs” on Grist’s international list.