A Shout Out to Bonefish Grill for their Gluten Free Honesty

bonefish grill gluten

I am heading up to Connecticut soon for some family festivities. On one of the nights, there will be 23 of us going to dinner and the host has selected Bonefish Grill as the venue.

Not knowing anything about this restaurant, I got in touch with my best friend to do some research. He goes by the name of Google…you may have heard of him.

Low and behold, Bonefish Grill has a gluten-free menu. Here is a blurb taken directly from their website.

At Bonefish Grill, you can choose from an entire menu dedicated to gluten-free options. From gluten-free beer and appetizers, to fresh, wood-grilled specialties and even decadent desserts, you can have something new and different every time you come in. It is important to note that gluten-free does not necessarily mean a fat-free or healthier diet, and it’s crucial that Americans consume the right amounts of nutrients and minerals in fresh foods to be healthy.

They had me at gluten free beer πŸ™‚

But naturally I needed to be sure I was safe to eat there so I called the restaurant yesterday and asked to speak to the manager and asked all my questions about cross-contamination, shared utensils, blah, blah, blah.

And what I got was…honesty. Refreshing honesty.

The manager said that although they have dishes that are completely gluten free, because of the size of their kitchen and how busy they are, especially on a Friday night, he could not guarantee my safety. They simply didn’t have the capacity, for example, to make sure part of their grill was reserved only for gluten-free items.

I then asked him if it was ok if I very inconspicuously brought in my own food. He said it would be absolutely no problem and to ask for him by name when I arrive.

Now granted I could question why they offer a gluten free menu if it may not be completely safe for those who truly need it, but after a week of getting beaten up online over the Disney fiasco, I will keep a completely positive light on this one.

Although we are often labeled as such, we celiacs are not a demanding bunch (and if you are…please stop…you’re giving us a bad name.) We just want to stay healthy. If you are a restaurant owner, just be honest with us and we’ll be totally cool with it.

Am I bummed that I can’t simply relax and eat my meal like a normal person? Not one single bit.

It’s not always about the food.

Give me good friends, close family and a couple of cocktails, and I’m one happy Dude.

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27 thoughts on “A Shout Out to Bonefish Grill for their Gluten Free Honesty”

  1. And this is different than any other restaurant how? Can you please tell me a 100% safe restaurant for a celiac?

      1. I have had some AMAZING experiences at some chain restaurants. (The problem is, there isn’t always consistency between different locations of each chain). Uno’s has always been unbelievably proactive, careful, knowledgeable, and they have clear policies in place to avoid cross-contamination).

        I am TOTALLY and absolutely thrilled when I get honesty from a restaurant and when they clearly recognize the limitations and strengths of their gluten-free menu and policies. I get that going out to eat is risky unless you’re at a 100% gluten-free place, but I choose to take the risk occasionally. I usually try to go to restaurants during their less busy times just because they can pay more attention to me, but I’ve also definitely had to bring my own food before. πŸ™‚

        Also, I’m moving from MA to CO in a few weeks, and received a gift card to the Bonefish Grill as a going away present. I’ve never been there before (don’t think we have them in MA), so I’ll have to give them a call before I go.

    1. Hey Zach-

      In NY, and a other places there are restaurants 100% GF. Small towns, chain restaurants-it’s hit or miss. Like dude said, i always ask if they have a seperate grill, pizza oven, etc. that they dedicate GF. If so, I usually will go for it. That being said, its up to you to decide.

      Dude, have a Tito’s on the rocks for me. Make it a double…this week has been nuts.

      Jersey Girl

      1. Sorry, the question was more hypothetical. My point was that celiacs shouldn’t be eating out in restaurants with shared kitchens.

  2. Sandra Rowland

    I agree that a chain restaurant is never truly safe. That is why when I do go out we do not go on a busy night or busy time (I like to say we eat with the old people!). Also I very carefully choose my place to dine. My current favorite is Burton’s Grill in the Boston area. The CEO is celiac so they do take cross contamination seriously. I was told yesterday they do not even have flour in the restaurant (except rice flour) for breading. The manager said “we just don’t think we should take a chance”. They do have pizzas (both versions – GF and non-gf) but I avoid those as I do not like the toppings anyway.
    I believe it is very important to get to know the staff so they can understand what you really need. You asked all the important questions.
    I do like the fact that Bonefish reminds everyone that just because it is GF doesn’t mean it is healthy!


    P.S. By the way we have a mutual BFF!

  3. I’ve eaten at various Bonefish Grills several times with no problem, so I’m a bit surprised by what the manager told you – I’d think they’d be able to poach or broil you some fish in a clean pan safely, even if the grill didn’t have a dedicated area – but hey, if they can’t, then it’s much better that they admit that honestly and let you bring your own food. I’m actually more comfortable eating in restaurants that have a disclaimer about possible cross-contamination, because then I know that at least the restaurant understands it exists.

    1. I’m also more comfortable with ones who understand it exists and are upfront about it. I think with some restaurants it is an issue of when we go in. Some will say that coming in on a weekday or on a weekend at a non-peak time will be the safest for me, but that a Fri, Sat or Sun evening just won’t be safe because they are simply too busy to worry about CC or my safety. Know what? I will take that refreshing honesty any day of the week. I prefer non-crowded restaurants anyway and we stick to going out mostly on weekdays.

  4. I too was thrilled to see that Bonefish now has a gluten-free menu, and our family chose a nearby one for our Mother’s Day brunch. I ordered an omelet from the gluten-free menu, and when it was delivered, it was served on toast. I said “That’s not mine, I ordered the gluten-free omelet.” The food runner looked at me like I was insane, insisted it was indeed mine, and unceremoniously left it on the table. My son, trying to keep things happy and lively, quickly pulled the toast out and started wiping the crumbs off the plate, giving me a pleading look to let it go and asking if I wanted a glass of wine. (nice diversion!) Not wanting to ruin Mother’s Day by making a stink, and realizing the place was a madhouse of brunchers, I just ate a few safe-looking bites and left the rest. Our harried server saw the toast, even left it on the table when he later took my plate and handed me the gluten-free dessert menu, but never said a word. *sigh*

    I am “merely” gluten intolerant, so a few crumbs will not cause much distress, but it was still disappointing. Hardly the carefree Mother’s Day celebration my family intended, but the understaffed and overfilled Bonefish couldn’t have cared less and it was too chaotic a time for me to attempt to educate anyone.

  5. Best gluten free restaurant meal I ever had was at the Redwater grill in Calgary Alberta – I knew when the chef peeked out at me and gave a nod that it would all be ok and it was πŸ™‚ especially the gf bun!! yum!! it’s not easy and yes it’s a risk but I’m not giving up the social bit over the food bit, it’s possible and responsible servers and chefs make it happen everyday for people, and everyday I’m sure there’s bad ones too but getting better I think…cheers dude have fun, at least they’re letting u bring your own food!

  6. I think maybe it depends on each location. Although a chain restaurant wouldn’t be my first choice, I have had some good luck with certain ones. I have eaten at the Bonefish Grill multiple times, but always at the same one. I’ve never gotten sick or had any issues with them. I ask a lot of questions and always speak to the same manager. They have told me (whether there is truth to this or not) that they take pride in having a GF menu and are very careful about their cooking procedures. I get sick pretty easily if I get “glutened” and have never gotten sick there, so maybe there’s some truth to what they’ve told me. ???

  7. It’s good of them to be honest about it. Here in Canada, my mom and I thought we had found an okay place to eat safe and socialize. But the chain effect was against us. Milestones has a gluten free menu that notes very clearly that there is a potential for cross contamination in the kitchen, but they are very helpful and will clean the grill if you ask. I always ask them to do my steak in a pan rather than on the grill, just to be extra safe.
    My mom asked for the chicken from the GF menu and asked to see the ingredients list to check on her egg and dairy allergies. Imagine her surprise when the ingredients list noted that the product may contain wheat. What the Gluten? Why is it on the GF menu? Cross-contam in the kitchen I understand, but coming out of the factory already potentially contaminated? Not cool.

  8. Miss Dee Meanor

    The smart thing is to do what the Dude did..call the individual restaurant since each vary in size and ability to watch for cross-contamination.

    I have eaten at our local Bonefish several times and had excellent service and food. The waitstaff even told me each ingredient on the “specials” that would be gluten-free and had the manager verify how they would cook it to ensure it was safe.. My plate was delivered from the kitchen by the chef separate from the others at our table. It is one of the favorite places to eat by a local Celiac group due to the care taken at this particular location.

    I still take the time to question before revisiting this restaurant. A change of management can make a difference, but I will say that Bonefish seems to at least be educated on the topic.

  9. Dude!!
    I LOVE Bonefish Grill. I write them up on Find Me Gluten Free!

    I am with Miss Dee on this one and I cannot wait for them to open one here in the Albany, NY area.

    I have NEVER, EVER had a problem at one of them.
    I tell the waitperson politely,”hon, I have celiac and I would appreciate it if you would keep a watchful eye out for me in the kitchen” (smile and wink).

    It has always been no hassle and on two occasions, the manager came over to say hello and to assure me I was in good hands.
    The staff told me they “announce” a GF order when it comes into the kitchen.

    I am not sure WHY this manager said that to you, but kiddo, that is a CYA statement. I have been in these places when it was standing room only on a Friday night during season in Florida and I never once had a “glutening” occur.

    The management, waitstaff and kitchen staff at the locations I have dined in (NJ, VA, and several in FL) have been well-educated about cross contamination.

    If I were going out to dinner with you, I would get the Chilean Sea Bass, mango salsa, and asparagus. (I would also get the Bombay Sapphire on the rocks and a creme brulee for dessert, but I’m a piggy) πŸ™‚

    You can take your own food if you want, but from one very sensitive celiac to another, this is the one place I would not hesitate to eat in.

      1. yes, bro, that’s why I would not steer you wrong. πŸ™‚

        Listen, kid, in all seriousness….we all know eating out is a crap-shoot, but we’ve both had good luck in high end places…. and of all the “chains” out there, I really feel Bonefish “gets it”.


        1. I’m in agreement with IrishHeart. Two visits in Sarasota and my daughter was happy and not glutened. They really seemed to care. But it seems that every restaurant offering GF items seems has lawyers that craft warnings/disclaimers to avoid lawsuits. And that makes Celiacs uncomfortable. So sometimes it is best to place your faith and make your case with the mananger, cross your fingers and enjoy some decent restaurant food.

    1. Miss Dee Meanor

      I may be mistaken, but I think I remember that Bonefish was one of the first chains that was GIG trained. It was the first restaurant I visited after learning I couldn’t have gluten and one of the very few that (at that time) had gluten-free menus.

  10. I ate at a Bonefish Grill in the NJ area on a busy Friday night and was NOT glutened, and anywhere that has GF beer gets a big plus!

    And since GF beer is a hit with you “They had me at gluten free beer “….

    Just had a new one at The Blind Pig” in Philly….Foxtail…my son loved it and just found it in Langhorne at the Philly Steaks and Beer for him for his 25th birthday. Also this gastropub has wonderful food, and while there is no GF menu, the chef has fed me very well, and safely two times now.

    A friend told me about a great GF bakery in Glastonbury, CT if you are travelling in that area of CT…let me know, I’ll dig thru my emails to find the name

  11. I would imagine the “can’t guarantee” is more of a “don’t sue us if we get it wrong by accident” than “we are not careful in our kitchen”. The only certainties in life are death and taxes, so you may as well enjoy yourself in the process.

    Personally, I would rather eat somewhere that does everything it can to cater properly for us, but admits that the kitchen is run by human beings. So much better than going somewhere where the gluten-free promises are made lightly and promptly broken.

  12. Hi – I’m assuming you’ve already come to CT, but just wanted to say that the bakery in Glastonbury that Kathie mentions is AMAZING! It’s called Dee’s One Smart Cookie – and I feel so lucky to live so close by since being diagnosed celiac (and lactose intolerant) a little over a year ago. They are gluten, dairy, soy and nut free – it’s a tiny place and everything is delicious. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. The owner is celiac – she doesn’t even allow staff to bring their own food into the bakery – she prepares lunch for them everyday – so there’s no chance of cross contamination. It’s such a good feeling to be able to walk into someplace and be able to order whatever I want and know that it’s safe (and yummy).

    On a Bonefish note – I tried the new CT restaurant a couple weeks ago for the first time (takeout) and I had no problem.

  13. Our Bonefish here in Indianapolis (E. 82nd street) does an awesome job! Harry & Izzy’s, The Colt’s Grille, Greek Islands, St. Yared’s Ethiopian and C.R. Heroes are a few more that do an exceptional job of doing everything they can to ensure that we have safe gluten-free meals. We love and appreciate them all!

    We also love DaLuciano’s in River Grove, IL (extremely safe and always a wonderful gluten-free dining experience). It is a good thing I don’t live closer to DaLuciano’s.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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