The deluge of companies that are coming up with gluten-free menus is amazing!!! The list of gluten-free friendly restaurants and those with gluten-free menus has expanded tremendously in the last three years, but who are they doing it for: us or them? I ask because I’m going a little nutty over some of the service of these places and how these menus tend to be filled with stripped down versions of a regular meal just to make it gluten-free. I’m not talking about a “minor stripping” –because clearly chefs have to adjust for gluten intolerances. I’m talking about an all out humiliating, bare-naked stripping of the entrees….well, just take a look at the following examples and you’ll know where I”m coming from.
Gluten-free Menu Case in Point #1
They’re everywhere and it really is nice to go into a restaurant and order something gluten-free from their gluten-free menu. Last week we went there, the server knew nothing about what actually was ON the gluten-free menu and what the restrictions even meant.
While eyeing the menu I saw the chicken caesar salad. Yum! But when you read the fine print on the menu it says:
“All Listed w/o Dressing, Croutons & Tortilla Strips”
I understand the no croutons and tortilla strips, but no dressing? So I’m just going to get plain, romaine lettuce with chicken? Why bother putting that on the menu at all? Does it make the gluten-free menu just “look” better?
We ended up agreeing on a plan burger, no bun, and their rice. Emma’s meal came out with the bunless, plain burger (yup she can have) and french fries that she didn’t order (and no, she can’t have) — thus contaminating the entire meal. Yup — time to send it back. To give them credit, the manager said they would make it right recooked her a fresh meal and apologized. Chili’s has a descent, basic selection from which to choose on their gluten-free menu: burgers, ribs, steak and chicken but what worries me is that if the servers don’t know what they’re doing, then it makes me skeptical about what is happening behind the doors in the kitchen.
Gluten-free Menu Case in point #2
Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
I took Emma there Friday night for a girls’ night out of dinner and a little shopping. We get the menu and I scanned it for information. And I saw their pasta dishes and I thought “Wow! That’s new!! They’ve added gf pasta!” But look a little more closely at the menu from the picture I took of it while we were there:
Yes, it actually says Handcrafted Pasta on the menu with two items — that say “w/o pasta” Huh? Again here, I ask the same question. Why are the pasta dishes even on there?
I have emailed both Chili’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill for a response. I am sad to say instead of having someone really address the issue, I got canned (nearly identical) responses even though I explained my concern and that I was hoping for an on-the-record response for my blog. Here it is:
Thank you for contacting Chili’s [For Macaroni Grill (MG) insert that here] for information on menu items that would be suitable for your dietary needs.
At Chili’s [MG], a top priority is always the health and safety of our guests. As part of this ongoing commitment, we provide the most current allergen menu information available from our food suppliers on the eight most common allergens to help our guests with food allergies to make informed food selections. Below is a link to suggested menu items for Egg, Fish, Dairy, Peanuts, Shellfish, Soy, Tree Nuts, and Wheat/Gluten allergens.
Because this list expires on a monthly basis, please be sure to contact us for an updated version or please bookmark the below link and check it at the first of every month. We hope that you are able to choose a meal to your liking and look forward to serving you soon. ” [added a link to the menus listed above]
Should we shut up and be grateful?
Anyone who reads this post who doesn’t deal with the gluten-free lifestyle may just wonder what the problem is…and that maybe we should just suck it up and be grateful. Should we? Should I be happy that my daughter can have a dry caesar salad with chicken, but at least she can go out to eat with my family (there was a time when I did feel that way)? Or should we be holding out for something more?
There are times where I think I should just be quiet and be thankful. But other times I want to be loud and proud. I crank up a rant and let it go — as I have today. What do you think? Should we suck it up? Or should we hold out for more?