Ask For A Gluten-Free Menu
When I first started eating gluten-free, I never would have imagined I would live long enough to see gluten-free menus in a restaurant! It is amazing how much the food landscape has changed in just the past few years. Sure, I still wander into places where I know that they have no idea what I am talking about. Several months ago I was at a conference, out of town, so really no other choice but to eat at the hotel restaurant. I was thrilled to see GF items mentioned on their menu, but I had a question about something that I thought should have been GF but wasn’t labeled as such (a basic salad with chicken – I wanted to know if it as the chicken, the salad dressing, or what the heck had gluten in it). When I asked the waitress, she gave me the look we all dread, kind of that cocker spaniel head tilt, and started talking about how she could bring me something that even she referred to as “faux chicken” which could only be some type of vegetarian thing? I’m not really sure, I just know I ate very little at that lunch, just in case.
Many of the restaurants in the Charlotte area (where I am living) have finally come around and after one or two restaurants started with their GF menus, many have jumped on the bandwagon. All good news for us! I actually eat out very infrequently, but when I do, I still ask a lot of questions and advice everyone else to do the same. A good restaurant that values your business won’t mind, either will a really professional waiter/waitress. I have been surprised, on several occasions, when my waiter/waitress actually tells me of something I shouldn’t eat that I was tempted to try. They always get the best tips!
I also know of a few restaurants that, although they don’t have a specific GF menu, will just help you find something that is suitable and will talk to the chef on your behalf. Actually, any restaurant that really has a chef should be pretty safe if you can talk with them. If it is one of those restaurants that serve meals that they buy from a distributor and just heat up for you….. I would make a different choice.
A big thank you to Charlotte Celiac Connection (www.charlotte-celiac-connection.org) for putting together a very comprehensive list of local restaurants with GF menus (click here to see all the places you can eat!) Another great resource for Charlotte and other areas is Gluten Free Registry who also has a long list of options (click here).
So ask for that GF menu! Even if your favorite restaurant doesn’t have one, the more you ask, the more they will see the need and maybe by the next time you go in, they will. If not, there are lots of other places to choose from. Let’s support the businesses that are supporting us!