Valentine’s Day is gluten-free at the Bradley Inn
Like many business owners in Bristol, Tony and Laura Moskwa of the Bradley Inn and Restaurant are closing the windows of their 15 rooms and devoting themselves to improving the property in preparation for the summer season.
However, serving Lincoln County residents who continue to leave their homes during the winter months, the Bradley Inn is opening its restaurant for themed dinners by reservation every other Saturday, continuing February 12 with a menu of Valentine’s Day.
Built at the turn of the 20th century, The Bradley is a full-service inn located on the Pemaquid Peninsula. The Moskwas bought him in 2017 after more than a decade in California. Now nearly five years after owning and operating the inn with their son, chef Ross Moskwa, who runs the kitchen, the family is still learning how to become better inn owners every year.
“It’s a tough business to run,” Tony Moskwa said Jan. 31. “You always learn how to deal with different situations, how to react if something goes wrong. So, for me, it’s ongoing.
It is particularly difficult to balance the different aspects of the business. Between 15 rooms, a restaurant-bar, a spa chalet and a gift shop, there’s plenty to juggle.
“It’s not like your two-bedroom, three-bedroom B&B,” Tony Moskwa said.
Although the hostel itself will be closed for renovations until mid-May, an important part of the hostel’s success over the past two years has been staying in touch with the community during the winter months. with themed dinners.
The Bradley Inn serves gourmet cuisine from scratch in the casual atmosphere of the inn’s cozy dining room and tavern, often accompanied by music courtesy of Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lobster Haul at Damariscotta.
With a background in Caribbean cuisine, Ross Moskwa offers unique menus on the peninsula, including Mexican, Caribbean and Asian.
“We give people a warm, inviting place where they feel like they’ve come out in the middle of winter and had a great meal and drink,” said Laura Moskwa.
“It’s a great way to stay in touch with the community,” she added. “I believe we’ve had more regular guests throughout the season because of that.”
The Bradley Inn also offers full and sometimes exclusively gluten-free menus, a specialty that dates back to the chef’s early education.
In high school, Ross Moskwa was diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten that creates inflammation that damages the lining of the small intestine, leading to medical complications.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a restrictive diet that excludes gluten, which is most commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. For Ross Moskwa, that meant eating with friends suddenly became a challenge. The offerings on the menus were so minimal that he started cooking with his mother, who is also gluten intolerant, so he could prepare the food he couldn’t find elsewhere.
For his senior project, the burgeoning culinary professional created a gluten-free cookbook. It wasn’t long before he attended the Art Institute of California in Sacramento for culinary arts, then took classes at a culinary institute in Napa Valley and spent time as a sous chef at a Caribbean restaurant.
So far this year, The Bradley Inn has released a Valentine’s Day menu for February 12 and a Caribbean menu for February 26, and both are completely gluten-free. This isn’t a gluten-free menu from a chain restaurant, filled with ready-made pasta or microwaveable desserts. While the inn’s menu features gluten-free bread options, its themed menus often focus on savory salads, soups, and meat dishes served with creativity and zest.
This creativity is the product of the collective experience of Ross and Laura Moskwa, who understand the difficulty of going out to dinner and discovering that the only thing they can eat is a salad.
“When we went out to eat and it’s like, ‘We have to eat gluten-free, what can we have on the menu?’ And they say, ‘Well, you can have the salad;’ it’s kind of like, ‘Is that it?’ “, Did she say.
In his kitchen, the chef is particularly aware of how to cook without cross contamination.
“People often don’t understand that using the same knife, cutting board, or toaster can be detrimental to someone who can’t eat it,” Laura Moskwa said.
When a person suffering from a severe allergy to peanuts or shellfish comes to the restaurant, the kitchen staff goes so far as to change their clothes before preparing their meal. The process is demanding and can be stressful when orders come from multiple customers with allergies, but their dedication has become an example to others in the hospitality industry.
Thanks to their dedication, the Moskwas have a loyal cohort of customers who return to the Inn for their attention to their customers’ needs and their gluten-free cuisine. They have presented on cross-contamination and food allergies at national hospitality conferences.
“There are people who have been blown away. They say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it, I haven’t been sick all the time,’ and they will come back,” Laura Moskwa said.
The Moskwas also source as many ingredients locally as possible, with most of their seasonal vegetables sourced from High Hopes Farm and their meat from Broad Arrow Farm.
Ross’ soups are particularly popular, said Tony Moskwa, which often have a spicier twist derived from his background in Caribbean cuisine.
On February 12, the kitchen at the Bradley Inn will serve roasted beetroot soup topped with creme fraiche, a thicker, creamier kind of sour cream.
Although May is a few months away, the Moskwas have quite a bit of work ahead of them as they prepare to reopen with several newly renovated rooms and a new outdoor seating area. That said, the couple are thrilled to welcome new familiar faces to their adopted home.
“Talking to people in the morning over breakfast with their first cup of coffee (that’s my favorite part). Once you get your first cup of coffee, those are the happiest people in the morning,” Tony said. Moscow.
“What I really appreciate is how welcoming this community has been,” added Laura Moskwa.