Monday, February 25, 2013

An Evening Out

I have said it before and I will say it again – there are two types of restaurants: those that have a set menu and eliminate foods based on your allergies, and those that cook for you. The first set includes most chain restaurants that source their food from a distributor. With these restaurants they have little choice but to eliminate items prepared with ingredients you are allergic to – because they weren’t prepared in their kitchen. The second type of restaurant uses real food (often locally sourced), cooks everything in their kitchen, and has the ability to control the ingredients the same way you would in your own kitchen using whole foods.

Unfortunately, there are far more chain restaurants and more popping up every day. These restaurants tend to be convenient, available, and affordable, and the good news is that many of them are highly rated on Allergy Eats.

When you have an opportunity to eat at a restaurant that cooks for you, there is nothing that can compare. My husband and I recently ate at The Artist’s Palate in Poughkeepsie, NY. We’ve eaten there before – always very successfully – but this time I was blown away.

When my husband called to make the reservation the receptionist asked if we had any food allergies. Yes, they asked us, before we had a chance to bring it up. My husband let them know his wife was allergic to gluten and soy. Things were off to a very good start.

When we were seated I let the server know about my allergies, but she already knew. Even better yet, she had spoken with the chef and already knew exactly which dishes could be prepared for me. In this case it was nearly all of the entrees (except the pasta), and many of the appetizers. A couple appetizers were ruled out due to gluten in the cheese. Yes, the chef had actually researched the cheese processing to determine what was safe.

The server brought my husband and I an amuse-bouche (that tiny free appetizer that is served “compliments of the chef” at fancy restaurants), and he had adapted mine to be safe. Right about that time I was falling in love with the chef and the server brings the bread with a tomato pesto – my roll is gluten-free:

This restaurant procures their gluten-free rolls from the nearby Soul Dog Cafe, and they are yummy! (They are gluten-free and dairy-free but do contain eggs.)

For an appetizer we decided to share a Caesar salad. I know what you’re thinking – that can’t possibly be safe! I almost never order Caesar salad because of the risk of contamination from croutons. But check this out – ours came with polenta croutons:

Note that there is also parmesan cheese on this salad. The croutons are the smaller squares that you see in front. I later discovered that the polenta croutons are always served on their salad. Note to self: figure out how to make polenta croutons at home!

And for dinner, I had swordfish with garbanzo beans and spinach in a Meyer lemon dressing:

Are you drooling yet?

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