Josh Marten was dreaming about gluten-free, dairy-free onion rings. The dream was so vivid it woke him at 1 o'clock in the morning. A short while later Marten, who is head chef at The Vine restaurant in Grants Pass, had the mixing bowls out and was trying to recreate the recipe that interrupted his sleep.
"I got out of bed and started experimenting," recalls Marten. "I wanted three things. They had to be gluten-free. They had to be dairy-free. And the onion couldn't pull out and burn your lower lip when you bit into it."
Today those insomnia-induced onion rings are a favorite on The Vine's menu, along with gluten-free pizza, pasta, calamari, chicken strips, fish and chips and more. Between 60 and 70 percent of the restaurant's menu items are gluten-free, and most everything else can be made with gluten-free alternatives on request, says Marten, who had no background in either natural-foods cooking or gluten-free experimentation before starting at The Vine.
In fact, The Vine, located at 1610 Allen Creek Road, isn't actually a natural-foods restaurant. It just acts like one.
"I'd describe it as upscale, casual dining with a chef's touch," says Glen Hendriks, who started the restaurant 10 months ago with his wife, Tawni Hendriks. Their daughter, Tiffany Albright, also chips in as server.