Courtney87 July 20, 2015 at 10:21 am #11985
Going out to eat used to be a treat – something special to do now and then with my hubby, friends or family. It used to be stress-free, a fun break from home cooking. Nowadays, I’d rather just stay home and make my own food that I know is safe. Gambling with my health was never my intention, and now that I have Celiac, it’s become way to easy to do just that.
This weekend I went to a local Steakhouse. I was so excited because they actually had ‘GF’ symbols on their regular menu! No trying to read a GF menu on my phone because it’s only online – or holding the dirty piece of computer paper that the GF menu was printed out on that looks like it was stored on the floor of the walk-in – or spending a half an hour talking to a waiter or chef trying to figure out what they can safely make gluten free for me to eat. It was actually printed on their menu – so I got my hopes up! They might actually know what they’re doing!
That hope lasted until I started conversing with our waitress… who turned out to be completely oblivious to gluten (she didn’t even know what it was!) which is hard to fathom since it’s listed on their menu. “Yes! Our salads are gluten free!” so I asked about the dressings. 10 minutes later, after talking to the chef, she notified me that NONE of their dressings are gluten free. None of their soups are GF either. Oh, and the sides? Another 15 minutes in the kitchen asking about them – and she comes out smiling because ONE of the many sides are gluten free (plain baked potato of course). I asked about the seasonings they used on their steaks – and, you guessed it – another 10 minutes in the kitchen and she says the seasonings they use are gluten free. I’m starving and frustrated at this point, I order the plainest thing on the menu and hope for the best. I do appreciate the effort made and the checking of ingredients to make sure everything was gluten free, but it just made me worry! I had the talk about cross-contamination – using a separate pan and utensils for my food – etc. I just don’t like gambling with my health…
Of course, today – I have that pinging headache and brain fog that can only mean one thing – so after all that talk, preparation and checking – it still didn’t do me any good.
I’m just tired of it – frustrated – and ready to be a food hermit.
Hopefully the experience will motivate the staff at the steakhouse to become more informed, but I’m guessing not. And someone in the kitchen clearly didn’t take my requests to heart – because I’m feeling the effects now. I’m not comfortable anymore placing the state of my health in the hands of other people – although I keep trying.
I have a very short list of places I will actually go to eat. That short-list equals FOUR.
I’m ever-hopeful that one day, conditions will change.
JulieBParticipantJulieB July 20, 2015 at 11:37 am #12003
I have eaten twice at different Outbacks and had no problem at either one. We have gone to Red Robin at least fifty times the last three years, and had an unfortunate experience there only once. They gave me a regular bun instead of gluten free and the manager on duty said it was his partner’s fault for being a bitch and yelling at him on the phone. He then went into a tirade on why he was breaking up with the guy, but I got no apology and they didn’t offer to comp my meal. None of his personal problems had anything to do with my getting the wrong item, and I am afraid to go back there again. On the plus side if you tell them you have allergies, they do give you an iPad that lets you look up the items you can eat, and it tells you the ingredients. Most of the time they are a great place to eat, and the staff is super, except for that one idiot. The safest place I have ever been was an Italain restaurant in the West Village in New York. Their food was all gluten free, and they even sold mixes and desserts you could take home with you. I can’t remember the name, but they aren’t the only GF restaurant in the West Village. I would feel very safe there, but most other places, even when they have gluten free options have a disclaimer that they can’t guarantee your food won’t be contaminated. As a rule of thumb, I won’t eat at places like that. It all comes down to training and dedication. It takes only one person to gluten us. After Red Robin, I stopped eating out. I just don’t trust anyone any more. Really, I should have insisted on getting my meal comped, and I should have asked for a district manager’s phone number. I should have complained more and been less polite.
JordynBParticipantJordynB July 20, 2015 at 11:48 am #12005
I have been to red robin a couple times and had no problems :) I also have had no issues with chipotle. The staff are very friendly and helpful at both places I have found. Both are in Lansing Michigan though. I’m sure every restaurant is different depending on where you live.
CanadianCeliacParticipantCanadianCeliac July 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm #12020
We have a handful of entirely GF places in and around the Toronto area, three that aren’t vegan (I struggle with most vegetables and fruit for some reason), it makes things easier!
Outback and Red Robin have very good reputations. Some Canadian chains that seem good include Turtle Jack’s, the Keg, Jack Astor’s, Boston Pizza, and a couple of gourmet burger chains, South St. Burger and Hero.
HollieJParticipantHollieJ July 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm #12269
Wahlburgers in Toronto is also amazing. They have gluten free buns and there are only two things on the menu (not including dessert) that actually contain gluten. That would be the onion rings and thanksgiving burger. They also have a separate fryer for there fries and tater tots. One of the best restaurants I have ever been to.
CanadianCeliacParticipantCanadianCeliac July 26, 2015 at 1:24 am #12302
Hollie – interesting, that’s two great reviews I’ve heard about Wahlburgers’ Toronto location! Yet I’ve avoided it because the menu specifically says their gluten free options are not meant for people with celiac disease. So what I’ve heard is good, but it scares me they feel the need to say that, as I’ve never come across anything like that elsewhere in the Toronto area.
JulieSFParticipantJulieSF July 27, 2015 at 12:26 am #12319
Courtney87 – thanks for starting this conversation. I agree with your comment about being a “food hermit”. I have found that eating at restaurants is scary, risky and frustrating, unless the entire place is GF (which is rare). I would much rather eat at home and not have to worry about getting sick.
When I was first diagnosed (7 years ago) I would go out with friends and just order water, but they made so many snarky comments (such as “your diet would RUIN MY LIFE”) that I had to give them up as friends. Being unable to eat what everyone else eats makes it hard to socialize. I’m working around it, though. Sometimes at very casual places I discreetly bring in my own food and pull it out when everyone else is eating.
I agree that I am hopeful one day conditions will change.
Courtney87 July 27, 2015 at 8:27 am #12321
I think one of the worst things is when someone says “I would never be able to give up gluten!” or “I don’t know how you survive without ‘insert gluten-food here’!”. I know they don’t mean it – but it just makes me feel more isolated. I try and explain that it isn’t a choice – that if you feel the way I did before being diagnosed with Celiac, you would graciously give up those ‘gluten-foods’ to even feel some small sense of normalcy. Unless someone has a medical reason to give up a food, their brain is wired to treat it like a diet – like a choice. Especially because most other medical reasons are ones without the symptoms of Celiac (instant & lasting effects). Once you accept that they just don’t understand – it makes it a little easier… Sometimes I wish they did understand because I feel like I have to defend my lifestyle constantly. I know this ‘gluten-free fad’ is partially to blame – but I feel like the truth of it is that people (in general) don’t really care about troubles unless they are directly affected. Could just be me, but that’s what I see. I’m lucky enough to have a best friend that is gluten-intolerant who understands my plight, a husband who is very protective and amazingly supportive, and a family who is behind me 100% and wants to learn. I hope all of you have a support-system like mine – and having access to resources like Gluten Dude, gfoverflow, etc definitely makes life easier every day.
JulieSFParticipantJulieSF July 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm #12326
Courtney – I agree that a lot of people out there “don’t really care about troubles unless they are directly affected”. I would even go one step further and say that a lot of people feel so uncomfortable with “troubles” (especially health problems), that they would rather bully friends about what they eat and pretend like someone’s medically-necessary diet is a choice than have to confront the real “trouble” (an illness that they might get themselves one day).
I’m glad you mentioned the importance of a support system. I also am lucky to have a very supportive husband and some family members and friends who “get it”. I’m so grateful for them! They definitely make life easier and better!
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