Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adventuring in Dining out - I dream of non-contamination

I've been looking for restaurants to go to lately. I want to eat out once in a while, especially when I have company so I don't have to cook and clean!

I dream of restaurants that are truly gluten free and I wonder why they aren't popping up. I mean, it's not like people without gluten intolerance couldn't eat there...

Anyway, here's my report out from good to bad:

Chipotle: I can't sing the praises of Chipotle enough. Their allergen statement is short and sweet - like I like it! http://www.chipotle.com/Chipotle_Allergen_Card.pdf All of their food is gf except the flour tortillas and they do that "fwap" with the stuff so crosscontamination hardly even concerns me. I ask them to put on clean gloves before they make mine and I'm happy. Extra kudos on the Organic options! Unnatural food chemicals will be the demise of us.

Jason's Deli - has an allergen report online: http://www.jasonsdeli.com/files/jdeli_allergen.pdf?phpMyAdmin=8d5f164b1d65cc8467461fb90f2883c9 and the staff was very helpful. Luv them! I ordered a build-your-own sandwich, w/o bread of course, and it's great. Where else can you get pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut, mustard, organic spinach, lettuce, tomato in a box - hot meat, cold veggies. MMMMM!!!
True story: I ordered meals to be delivered to my office by 5:00 pm so I could take them home to my family for dinner. The guy that delivered told me he specifically reviewed the book for me too and took out a dressing I'd ordered that isn't safe and replaced with with gf ranch. So, I luv him too. I'm happy to report one time/life saving discovery for me!! Plus, if you order online you get deli dollars to redeem for free food (Yay!)

Outback: Duh! I think anyone stepping into a gf website probably got tipped off that Outback has a gf menu, and has to some extent for a while. http://www.outback.com/foodandmenus/pdf/glutenfree.pdf. I luv me a fat juicy steak and a cheesy baked potato. Hold the bread!! We ordered ‘Take Away’ on a Saturday night for the fam and I’m happy to report it was ok. They forgot one of our sides, which seems to happen often when you order takeout from anywhere, but the food was good. We tried the gf brownie dessert and it was addictive.

Starbuck's: Ok, so they don't exactly qualify as a dinner type place but, their drinks can have as many calories and protein (if you get soy milk) as a meal...and now they have gf cookies, fruit snacks and some of their packaged foods are potentially safe like the fruit and cheese platter. You have to call their customer service line to find out about allergens, but the employees in the store will let you read the ingredients on everything including the syrups & milk. Yes, I asked to read the ingredients on the soy milk before I'd drink it!

Boston Market: Nice Allergen List online: http://www.bostonmarket.com/restaurant?page=allergens. I like what I see and have had 2 good experiences with them. I say Yes! It helps that I LUV creamed spinach and their poultry gravy is gf - hard to find gf gravy!

Chili's: posts Allergen Info: http://www.chilis.com/EN/Allergy%20Information/Chilis%20Allergen_Generic.pdf I'm encouraged, the entree warning says "w/o sides" but they list the safe sides, so I'm thinking you could make a decent choice. This goes on my list of places to try on a Friday night. p.s. there's one really close to my house - bonus!

Wendy's: has a gluten free list: http://www.wendys.com/food/pdf/us/gluten_free_list.pdf. It's mostly condiments but I was happy to see that I can have Frosties. And the salads are pre-made, that makes me feel safer since the croutons etc are in separate packages. I'll go there in a pinch.

And the bad…

Burger King: Has a Gluten Sensitive List: http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/menu_nutrition/GlutenFree.pdf So if all you are hungry for is packets of sauce… Me? Nix! Sorry BK isn't doing it my way.

Carrabbas: Publishes a gf menu: http://www.carrabbas.com/menu/pdf/GFmenu.pdf but the catch is you have to ask them to make your food without "grill baste". I nixed them based on the fact they have no dedicated gf grill. My logic is that if everything is basted with some gluteny goop and cooked on the same grill as my food, even if they don't add extra goop, I'm getting contaminated. The only things on the menu mostly ok are 3 salads and I'm sorry, as good as the Fiorucci sounds, if my dinner mates are eating Sirloin Marsala, I'm going to be a very grumpy girl unless I have several glasses of wine. Neither will turn out well.
I did try them for take out a couple months ago and it did not settle well with me – now I have an idea why.

Macaroni Grill: A friend of mine who has Muniere's disease suggested this to me based on her experience there. They accommodated her special requests (none of which include Gluten btw) so I decided to check out their menus. Surprise! They have an allergen report too: http://www.brinker.com/gr/allergens/mac%20allergen.pdf.

Nixed! When I saw all the "w/o" notes, I just couldn't imagine trying to make that all clear to a waitperson that's paid $2/hour on a busy Saturday night and expect any kind of success. I'm not that lucky. I mean, if they can't make risotto and goat cheese gf (these things are naturally gf!) I'm not eating there.

McDonalds: They may have best intentions but, NIXED! Online you can look at ingredients lists galore but I'm not that desperate or have enough time in my life to work it out!

Johnny Carinos: GF Menu: http://www.carinos.com/menu/74879/showgluten/1062 but the items on it describe angel hair pasta...Umm - what? I called and confirmed - they do not serve gf pasta - it's a hoax y'all!

Applebee's: My Mom loves Applebees (at least while she was in Oklahoma). Sorry Mom, they don't post allergens on line. They are falling to the bottom of my list.

TGIFridays: posts no allergen info online or even a FAQ statement. nix.

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