I’m proud to be from an area where there’s so many fast and easy lunch options for celiacs and the gluten sensitive. It’s an exciting time, as local restaurants trade over-processed accompaniments for fresh, whole foods. SKWR is no exception, recently making its debut in McPherson Square as the district’s first fast-casual kabob joint…
The décor is eye catching – various hues of blue stand out in the dark, industrial-style venue. The menu works similar to all of the other meals-in-a-bowl these days: pick your base, toppings, sauces, protein, and FEED. Unlike many other places where you can’t see what’s going on until you get to the front, SKWR has large and easy to read menu boards overhead so that you have plenty of time to create your bowl in your mind while waiting. No pressure.
There isn’t a gluten-free menu, but the menu is coded with symbols to indicate various allergens. The gluten-free options, indicated by a triangle, are PLENTY. Let’s break it down.
Greens or grains? You have the choice of a salad bowl or rice bowl, which can either be brown basmati or white basmati rice. The greens are seasonal, and the rice is aromatic, well-seasoned, and cooked perfectly. Can’t decide? Get both! You can do a half-and-half bowl.
Spread it on. 5 of their 6 flavor packed spreads are gluten-free (the potato spread is off limits). You can choose 3: jalapeño chutney, hummus, eggplant (think babaghanoush), yogurt + cucumber and apple chutney. If you want a good balance, go for some heat, some cool, and some creaminess by pairing one of the chutneys with the cucumber yogurt sauce and either hummus or eggplant.
Proteins. ALL gluten-free, whee!* Options include grilled all-beef meatballs, chicken, steak, and lamb. All of them are cooked in a rich, aromatic and tasteful blend of herbs and spices that pair well with the sauces. No shortage of flavor here. They also have white bean falafel, but, as you could expect, not gluten-free. Sigh.
*The meatballs are not labeled gluten-free as they were unsure whether or not they were going to use breadcrumbs during the product testing stage, but as they decided not to, they should be good to go – double check with the employees!
Toppings. Veggies by the plenty, all locally sourced and organic when possible. All are gluten-free with the exception of the lavash crisp. They are all good, but tend to be on the acidic side – if choosing more than one, make sure you cut the tang by pairing with one of the yogurt-based sauces.
Sauces. All 4 are gluten-free, and you can choose 2: yogurt and mint, charred chutney, za’atar yogurt aioli and pesto. The yogurt and mint and za’atar yogurt aioli are very similar to each other – if you want more variety, choose one of the others. All are delicious, and don’t be afraid of the chutney – it’s only got mild heat.
Beverages, but no extras. You’ll unfortunately have to pass on the beautifully rolled baklava from Baklava Couture, and the dips and breads, but hey, the water is gluten-free 😉