I have long found this a problem, but in the last 5 to 10 years it has become much easier. People generally get it, they’ve heard of a gluten allergy and the gluten-free diet. Still, eating out can be a stressful experience when you go to somewhere new.
I have always preferred one-off restaurants and generally avoid chain restaurants. After all most chain restaurants are in the business of serving gluten-laden foods! At least, that was my impression. On the occasions when I have gone to a chain restaurant, I usually order steak as it seems like the safest option.
However things have changed in the landscape of chain restaurants. They all seem to offer nutritional guides, and most offer allergy guides as well. This can be extremely useful. Locate your allergy in the columns at the top of the page, and run your eyes down the column and see which items on the menu contain that allergen and which don’t.
Also, I found the staff at these restaurants to be quite well-trained with allergies. The fact that they have training at all is in stark contrast to your average one-off restaurant.
Another feature of chain restaurants is that they have won the hundred numbers. Actually, I’ve never tried calling one of these numbers, but they are there to help. You could find it what you could order at a particular restaurant in advance so that you don’t have to make a big deal about it in front of your friends or business associates.
My ability to eat gluten-free and stress free at a chain restaurant is really quite remarkable. The best I’ve seen is P F Chang in the US. Not only do they have a separate menu for gluten-free, they also have a different shape plate for their special menu orders. This way everybody knows that it’s an allergy order, and I have the confidence to know that they’ve done it right.
I’ve had good luck at Denny’s, Kelsey’s and Eastside Mario’s.
What has your experience been with chain restaurants and a gluten allergy or any other allergy? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.