Frederick Costa is well known as a chef/restaurant owner in San Antonio. He was one of the original L'Etoile founders, and then opened another successful restaurant further north on Broadway in 2000. Frederick's is still on Broadway in Alamo Heights, but the owner has joined the migration to the suburbs and opened Frederick's Bistro near the intersection of Huebner and NW Military. This new place is a little more casual, as you would expect a bistro to be.
Frederick, named as one of the top 10 Chefs in San Antonio in 2010 by Scene in S.A. Magazine, has a passion for fusing his French and Asian culinary skills creating signature dishes that blend his roots in both cultures.
I enjoyed a late lunch with Frederick and was able to talk to him about his cooking style and menu. Also, I described some of the ways gluten can inadvertently get into a dish where you would least expect to find it. He has had requests from some of his regular customers for gluten-free dining and is now ready to go the extra mile to provide us with quite a few safe choices.
Almost everything on the menu is prepared from fresh ingredients as it is ordered. Many of the menu choices are naturally gluten free, and some can be modified to eliminate the gluten. This is a French restaurant, after all, so you will find most recipes prepared with butter. However, if you cannot eat dairy, many of these dishes can be prepared with olive oil instead. It would be a good idea to ask for Frederick or the manager on duty when you come in.
We went through the menu line by line to find good gluten-free choices and also to identify what to stay away from. Frederick's Bistro plans to have a gluten-free menu printed up soon, but for now, here are some guidelines to help us order safely.
All three soups served at lunch can be gluten free with slight modifications, if you ask.
Salads include the Caesar, but ask them to leave off the croutons. Also, soy sauce should be omitted from any salad to which pan seared salmon is added.
The fryer is not dedicated, so skip over any items that would be fried. This includes the spring rolls, French fries, and Crispy Calamari.
The items that are described as Asian will have soy sauce. You can order the Asian chicken salad or Asian Rare Beef Salad but will need to remind the waiter that you want them to omit the soy sauce. As noted above, pan-seared Salmon is often marinated with soy sauce, so be sure and remind them to leave it out.
The crab cakes are not for us, as there is bread in them.
Almost all the lunch and dinner main courses can be made gluten free, but you need to discuss this with the waiter in advance. For fish dishes, this will mean eliminating the first step, which is dusting with flour before cooking in a sauté pan. Norwegian Salmon can be ordered without the soy sauce in the Beurre Blanc. Even though you can’t have the crab cakes, you can safely eat the crab salad as a main course. Duck Confit is one of the few dishes that are made ahead, as it takes six hours to cook, but the good news is that it is gluten free.
On the Dinner menu, don't order the Pork Shank Osso Buco, but you can order all of the other main dishes on this menu, although some will need to be modified. If the dish comes with fries, substitute other potatoes or steamed vegetables. The mushroom risotto is made with house made chicken broth.
Out of nine dessert choices, five are gluten free. Remind your server to leave the cookie off your dish if you order the Mixed Sorbet Cup. Otherwise, order a Chocolate Terrine, Crème Brûlée, Black Chocolate Mousse, or Home Made Cherry Ice Cream with Marinated Kirsch Cherries.
Frederick's Bistro has plenty to choose from if you are on a gluten-free diet. It is nice to know about a French bistro in town where you can enjoy wonderful food in a lovely setting.
This review was written by Anne Barfield in April, 2009 and updated September 2010.