Thursday, February 1, 2018

Valentine's Day - worst day to dine out gluten-free

I'll never forgot my first gluten-free Valentine's Day.  It was 2006 and, back then, dining out was NOT easy - even at chains with gluten-free menus.  After exhaustive research that spanned the three weeks between my dx and Valentine's Day, I finally chose a place in Buford, GA to eat at on the big night.  The place has since closed so I'm not naming it here.  Since we could not make reservations, we arrived when they opened at 5pm.  I think we were seated in just under two hours, at which time we were both hungry enough to eat the table cloth.  No apps were safe for me so my husband wouldn't order anything for himself.  We did end up having a lovely meal, but that was my first meal out since going gluten-free and it didn't make me feel like doing it again anytime soon.

That night taught me to take emergency snacks when going out to eat.  Many years passed before I didn't feel the need for that safety net.  Everyone has their own faves for purse snacks and mine included nuts, dried fruit or crackers (to use with sans gluten cheese plate).

After skipping dining out on February 14th for several years, we finally went out again (to another place that has since closed) and had another bad experience.  This time around we had reservations, but since the place was jammed packed and fairly chaotic (they had clearly taken more reservations than they could handle), we agreed to sit in the bar area instead of the main dining room.  Our meal took a while to come out, but everything was really good.

The bad part was that the server informed me (after our order was put in) that I could not have the goat cheese on my salad...the exact salad I'd had many times without issue.  That's because there was NO gluten in the cheese.  Someone was confused in thinking gluten-free and dairy free were set a bad tone for the rest of the night and my husband suggested that I might mark the place off my list of safe places.  I didn't do that, but I did inform the restaurant that they might do a little retraining of the staff.  It should be said that this place was known for gluten-free service - one of the few such places in the area back then.
We've had a couple of other negative experiences on Valentine's day so a few years ago, we decided to celebrate the holiday early.  We're not the only people doing this, of course, but the difference in the atmosphere at restaurants on Valentine's day and the day (or so) before it is like night and day.  The staff is much more relaxed which lends itself to a diner with allergies being more relaxed as well.

Have a sweet gluten-free Valentine's Day - however you choose to celebrate!

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