The amount of restaurants that now have gluten-free menus is staggering and many offer incredible options that are safely prepared (as much as is possible in a mixed kitchen). But the number of menus that list fried items that are not made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer seems to be on the rise. Forget chips and fries - I'm talking about even gluten-free breaded items in some cases.
The good news is that many places will denote on the menu that the items are cooked/fried in a regular gluten fryer. The bad news is that most of us can't take the risk of getting sick, and therefore must avoid those items. In some instances, avoiding those items will leave you with few safe choices on the menu. And at least in my case, that's not a place I'd bother patronizing.
So when you're doing your homework, looking for gluten-free options at your neighborhood or on your dream vacation, pay great attention to the little things regarding food prep, etc. It's not only about the ingredients. It's not even about those and the preparation methods. It's about the plating after everything has been done to prepare the meal correctly. One line cook tossing a piece of bread ruins the whole darn thing.
Years ago, I watched someone throw a roll on my plate at Ted's Montana Grill. Someone yelled "no bread gluten-free" quite loudly. The roll was quickly removed and they brought out the plate as though nothing happened. They had no idea I'd seen the whole thing from our table. I explained that I could not eat anything on the plate now and I'd take just a baked potato. We didn't have the time to wait on another steak...and I really had no trust in the place at that moment. I think Ted's has improved greatly since then, but it's not a favorite because of the incident years ago.
What many companies don't understand is that it's hard to forget simple mistakes, because those mistakes can take us down for the count. If you get the feeling a place doesn't take gluten-free orders, or food allergies, seriously, it's hard to shake that feeling no matter how much you'd like to.
Restaurants that don't understand how to feed us safely would be better served to do away with their gluten-free menus altogether. And the places that do get it, and care about our business, are the places we all need to support as often as possible!.
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