Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Ongoing Risk Of Dining Out Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Apps That Just Are Not Gluten Free!


I had just recently gone out to eat in Hoboken, NJ at a restaurant that was available via FindMeGlutenFree mobile application... (hint, don't use it)  It had good reviews and I had been there before, awhile ago, so I knew it was a frequently visited location with a lot of gluten-free food service experience so who are these gluten-free customers...


We went to an early dinner and were the only people in the entire restaurant. Perhaps because it was a cold and rainy day and that may have foreshadowed the next turn of events... Part of me thought this is awesome, because I'll receive 1 on 1 attention and possibly ideal circumstances from their server and chef, to avoid issues, right? On the contrary, empty tables signify slower food moving in/out of the kitchen and that's always a nerve racking feeling that a restaurant has out dated meat, veggies, etc. 


The server, albeit he was nice and tried to assure me that a truly gluten-free experience was a ahead, said he catered to gluten-free customers often, which only made me feel a tad better because I'm always wary. We had a detailed discussion about how I had Celiac Disease and require a very carefully made gluten-free meal. He assured me that they were pros and it all sounded great until the brought out the food...

First, my meal had cheese and I didn't ask for it and the dressing wasn't gluten-free so I inquired. We had a deeper discussion about the ingredients and he brought out the questionable products in which I googled them and they were not gluten-free brands.  He then dared to tell me that he didn't know much about gluten-free but they always serve that product to patrons and never had a problem... yes his scary! scary! scary! defensive position came out. Fortunately, I avoided a major gluten conflict by asking a lot of questions during the actual meal by challenging the plate in front of me and asking the server, courteously, but effectively, to guarantee the food in front of me was indeed gluten-free. 

The truth is folks that every time you eat out, no matter how much a restaurant tries, they'll never provide a truly 100% safe gluten-free meal as you would in your own home. Each dining out experience is a risk, every time, no matter how many times you go back to the same place or try a new one from a mobile application because you get to buy the food, prep it, and cook it in your safe and controlled environment. 

Advice To Those Who Eat Out Too Often

In conclusion, please continue to eat at home 95% of the time, spoil yourself with cooking classes, upgrade your pots, pans and cutlery to protect yourself from risks of dining out. You should eat ahead of time or bring small snacks or safe bars and meals with you if you have plans out and about. And if you're going to dine out, always call ahead and get a name to hold these people accountable, and go with the safest options as possible such as fresh fruit, veggies, beverages and still tell your servers that you have food restrictions.  Don't take too many new risks and only go back to the places that have proven to be the best. Good luck out there!