November 5th, 2011Dining & Travel, ReviewsMelinda 2 Comments

I have had two recent dining out situations I would like to share.

While visiting an Outback Steakouse, I ordered my typical Grilled Shrimp and Alice Springs Chicken.

I ALWAYS order from and remind the server that I am ordering from the Gluten Free menu, which I did.   I ALWAYS order at Outback the following way.

Grilled Shrimp from the Gluten Free Menu, (aka no toast points) NO Seasoning Please.
Alice Springs Chicken from the Gluten Free Menu, NO Bacon, NO Seasoning Please, Sauce on the side.  Baked Potato with No Bacon, and the toppings on the side and please.

The server was very sweet and when my shrimp arrived, I noticed they looked seasoned.  I mentioned that, and she informed me that the seasoning does not make it “gluten containing” it is serving it with the toast that does.   I said, yes I am aware of that, however I do not want seasoning on my dishes.  I was sharing this and only having a couple, so I did not request her to take it back, but to just be sure they get the notation on my entree. 

When my entree arrived, my potato was loaded.  No real biggy.. at least they did not put the bacon on it.  I did however receive seasoned chicken, swimming in sauce.   I mentioned it to her as she was sitting it down and she gave me the same response.   I politely said, yes, I understand, but gluten free or not, I do not like your house seasonings, find them way too salty for my taste and prefer to dine without them.

I did not push the issue as she really had that deer in the headlights look and it was almost 10pm and I was traveling to attend a speaking event the next day.  I wiped off my chicken and had my meal, leaving with some in a takeaway.

What did I learn?   NO, it does not involve tipping!  She was still generously tipped as 2/3 of the diners were 100% happy.  Point being, sometimes servers get a little tunnel visioned.  She made assumptions on what I wanted or needed.  Having food allergies as well, this could have been a disaster.

My other experience was at BJ’s Brewhouse and was enlightening.  My server (who’s aunt is a Celiac) asked if I was ordering Gluten Free because of medical reasons.  I said yes, and she clarified that they handle the meal differently to ensure no cross contact.  So I wonder…  what about the servers who do not ask?  If the kitchen has varied ways of preparing gluten free entrees is it always translated.

What did I learn?    With a lot of people trying Gluten Free Diets for many reasons.   Those of us with medical issues need to really let our servers know that we have to avoid gluten for our own safety and well being, so they do not assume our request is not just part of a popular “diet”.

I have found a few more establishments who offer Gluten Free Menus or Options

BJ’s Brewhouse  –   I have visited my local BJ’s several times with good results.  For some reason I overlooked them in last month’s post.  They offer Gluten Free Pizza, Stuffed Potatoes and a few other entrees.  Even a Gluten Free Dessert.

Uno Chicago Grill  –  This was passed along via my last post.   Gluten Free Menu

Joe’s Crab Shack – A nice variety to choose from.  Gluten Free Menu

Buffalo Wild Wings  – There is a link for printable allergen info. under the word Menu

Firebirds Grill –  Gluten Free Menu

Longhorn Steakhouse – Link to the Gluten Free Menu can be found on this page.

Zio’s Italian – Gluten Free Menu

The most important advice I can give:

1.  Make a Dietary Card.  I print them from my word processor, about 8 to a page, cut them into squares and keep them with me at all times, I rarely get them back so don’t go through the expense of laminating or making something special.

2. Engage.  Immediately and ask for a gluten free menu.  If none is available, politely tell (this is not really a time for an ask.. it leaves you open to a wishy washy response.) the server you need to send the card to the chef and have he/she help you with your decision.  Example  “Hi, I have some dietary considerations.  I need you to take my dietary card to the chef for review, please.”

'2 Responses to “Gluten Free Dining – Part 2”'
  1. Kristen says:

    My husband and I own a local pub and our son was diagnosed with celiac disease back in 2002. We added a gluten free menu this past summer and we made it extensive. We bought a fryer solely for gluten free items. We are very proud of the menu and have gotten great reviews. The staff was even “threatened”…the food has to be done right or customers will not come back! I also explained it was a health safety issue not a fad. Our staff has been there since my son was born. They realize gluten will make him sick and that our new menu is something near and dear to us.

    • Discover Gluten Freedom says:

      Thats so good to hear Kristen, Ya’ll must have a wonderful pub. I was surprised when the server asked. I see the point, but I hope that all will take the care to treat all GF meals the same. As you know consistency creates good habits. I hate to think someone is assuming anything. That is where the dietary card comes in really helpful.

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