These days, there are sweet options for most people dealing with dietary and medical restrictions. “I’ve seen people literally dance when they learn they can have a vegan cupcake,” says Mark Zlatich, manager of Sweet 27. The Remington cafe and bakery is happy to fill a need by specializing in gluten-free goodies and vegan treats.
The bakery/restaurant comes by its mission honestly. Renee D’Souza, who co-owns Sweet 27 with her husband Richard, discovered she had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, not long after she got a pastry degree from culinary school. “It was a shock,” she says.
“I realized that even working around flour, breathing it in, was damaging to the system.”
She and her husband, also a chef, then began experimenting with gluten-free baked goods at home, developing combinations of potato, almond, and coconut flours mixed with tapioca and Xanthan gum. The couple decided to open the bakery in 2005, followed by the restaurant in 2010.
While an estimated one in 100 people have celiac disease worldwide, many people are turning to gluten-free diets for myriad reasons, including gastrointestinal issues, allergies, and a desire to avoid genetically modified foods. “People are constantly learning about what foods are best for them,” says Katie Smallwood, a manager at Great Sage, which went vegan in 2010 when the owners embraced a diet free of animal products. The Clarksville restaurant also has a range of gluten-free options and dabbles in raw foods.
Even mainstream restaurants cater to those who eschew wheat flour. B&O American Brasserie has a gluten-free bête noir, for instance, while the Rusty Scupper offers a gluten-free molten “chocolate indulgence” cake on its menu.
But, as Allison Parker-Abromitis, a spokeswoman for the Foreman Wolf restaurant group, points out, “There’s always sorbet.”