Timberlodge Steakhouse is hands down our favorite restaurant to go to. It has many gluten-free options; from seafood to steak and chicken. This weekend we went to the restaurant and asked for the gluten-free menu and they handed over a newly-printed menu with all the details. And then I found the asterisks.

Timberlodge started publishing a gluten-free menu in 2006. At the time it was three pages and practically made me cry. The restaurant had always been accommodating, even without the menu and we had been going there for years. But when the menu came out, I just felt the company understood our needs and the weight of explaining our food requests was lifted off my shoulders. What a blessing.

The Gluten-Free Menu Changes

For the first time, back in 2006, we tried their potato canoes. Very tasty appetizer and my daughter loved them—they were on the gluten-free menu. But the new menu that I saw last week, had them listed like this: *Potato Canoes (French Fries and Buffalo Wings were the other foods that had the asterisk). What is that all about? I looked at the “note” below and it said these foods may come in contact with gluten.

After our meal, I talked to the manager about them. Basically the gist of the note on the gluten-free menu is that the oil the potato canoes are fried in could be frying other “gluten” products like mozzarella sticks. Also, I was told when it’s really busy; the potatoes could be put in the fryer that’s dedicated to a big breaded onion appetizer. Part of me was astonished, yet another part of me was not.

I explained to the manager that they’re contaminating gluten-free foods by sharing that deep fryer with gluten-containing foods which will make people who order from the gluten-free menu, get sick. I recommended they get a dedicated fryer for their gluten-free items or they need to (unfortunately) take them off the menu. He said he would address the company with my concerns. I then followed through with the company, emailing them with my experience and sending them links to reputable sites that discuss cross contamination like the deep fryer.

Fixing the Gluten Contamination

In a way, I feel like I’ve been cheated on – or like they’ve broken a promise to me. I want to give the company some slack because they were one of the first in the Twin Cities area to offer this menu. They were extremely proactive. But now what? I’m curious how the company will handle this situation. Will I be ignored? Will they get on it right away? Will they fix the problem or just pull the items off the gluten-free menu?

One big question: will our family return? I think so because they have so many other food options. I do have a little something in my head that wonders what other cross-contamination might be going on. But I also know this is the risk I take by going out to a restaurant and having someone else prepare my daughter’s food. But am I being reckless by continuing to go there and order off the gluten-free menu?

I can confidently tell you, potato canoes are not in our future until the asterisks are removed from the menu – one way or another. I will let you know what I learn in the coming weeks.

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