I recently got the chance to get out and check out a relatively new gluten free menu in the Twin Cities area. I have wanted to check out Cooper’s Pub in St. Louis Park since my friend Alexa blogged about their promising new gluten free menu in June.  She was at their gluten-free menu unveiling and raved about it as well as their cooking/preparation procedures.

So when I was planning to go out with friends to a dinner and a movie last weekend, I had expressed my interest in Cooper’s.

When we  arrived (7 months after the launch of the menu) the gluten-free menu looked formidable.  They had appetizers, salads, entrees, burgers/sandwiches (with gluten free buns for an extra $1), desserts and beer.  The menu had french fries  listed on it — which is always exciting and a red flag all at the same time.  So I asked the waitress if the french fries were shared in the same fryer as other breaded/deep fried items. She said she’s heard both yes and no as the answer and went in the kitchen to check. She came back with a resounding yes, the fries are in a shared fryer.  Sigh.  But then she dug a deeper hole by acting like she knew anything about gluten issues and said “….so it just depends on how severe your allergy is to gluten….”  and I said, “with celiac disease you can’t have any gluten.”

She also explained how the restaurant’s menu was made with the intent of having a dedicated gluten-free  fryer, but the cooks weren’t able to commit to it and they were using the fryer for other things — causing the gluten contamination in the oil.

I then ordered a cheeseburger with a bun and mashed potatoes, which were on the gluten free menu.

I got my meal and the bun looked fine — smaller than their burgers — with poppy seeds on top.  I received a hearty serving of mashed potatoes and what was next to it? A ramekin of gravy.  I asked the guy who was serving our food if it was gluten free and he fumbled saying yes….but that it was made with a beef base so it should be fine.  Oh boy…he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  I asked if the gravy was thickened with flour (which it looked like) or something else.  He went back in the kitchen and asked and came back and said yes.  I told him it wasn’t gluten free then and I handed him the ramekin.


My meal was fine, the potatoes were good, but really could have used some gravy.

At one point I tried to explain to the waitress that if they’re doing their gluten free menu they need more education — and I explained the gravy incident to her.  I didn’t get the feeling that it mattered much to her, but from her perspective, she was busy.

Too bad.  We won’t be going there again because it’s a cool place with a great atmosphere.  Just a poorly-executed gluten-free menu.

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4 Responses to “Disappointment in Cooper’s Pub’s Gluten Free Meal”

  1. We had a similar experience and I was hoping that it was just a one-time thing. Bummer. Out of the 3 people we spoke with, they all had different answers, all pretended to know what they were talking about when I knew they didn’t have a clue. Did you say something to the manager?

  2. I completely understand the disappointment. I get nervous whenever someone asks me to go out to diner because I hate being “that” type of customer to ask a ton of questions and telling them that I want this instead of that. There is one restaurant here in Salt Lake that I love because they are amazing to anyone who orders off there fairly large gluten-free menu. I had a nice talk with the waitress about gluten-free and found out she was more caring about making sure my food was gluten-free because her best friend also had celiacs. If restaurants where more educated on these types of food caused illness and took the steps to make a dedicated gluten free menu then I am sure more people with the condition would feel much better about eating out.

  3. Big Bummer. It’s so disappointing when you look at a great “Gluten Free” menu – only to realize it’s not really gluten free. I once was so excited to see a gluten free appetizer menu – not having had any fried food in over a year. I quickly found out it was all contaminated….no dedicated fryer.

  4. I did not say something to the manager. I will likely call today. It was during the time of the 49ers/Saints game where it was touchdown central and the place was PACKED! I am pretty sure that any manager would have been distracted too much to really hear me out.

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