No good deed goes unpunished

So tonight I went out to eat at our local Texas Roadhouse. Our theater group was having a fundraiser, where a percentage of the sales during a certain time would go towards our efforts to keep electricity, water, and heat on in the theater. Our patrons tell us that lights, heat, and working toilets make the live theater experience SO much better!

Anyway, I did not do my due diligence on this restaurant, and (foolishly) assumed that a steakhouse … which serves meat, sweet potatoes, and vegetables would have something gluten-free for me to eat.

I was wrong…wrong… WRONG.

In fact, Texas Roadhouse doesn’t even have a gluten-free menu. From their website:

While we recognize that some guests have specific dietary needs, we are no longer able to offer our gluten-free menu at this time. It was a very difficult decision, but we concluded that due to the multi-use of utensils, supplier changes, substitutions, and the possibility of human error, we could not offer our guests a total assurance that the items were indeed 100% gluten-free. As such, we decided that the best approach was for the management team at each restaurant to work with guests individually to ensure that they can make the most informed menu decisions. Please ask to speak to your location’s Managing Partner, who will be happy to accommodate any requests or provide information about our food and preparation.

Uh. Ok.

Now, while I get that it really isn’t a requirement for a restaurant to accomodate food allergies, and I appreciate the honesty with which they put forth their statement on their website… I just want to scream. REALLY, Texas Roadhouse? REALLY? You’re not even going to TRY?

And for the record, YES, I should have checked. I shouldn’t have assumed. It’s meat and green beans, and a baked sweet potato for God’s sake! However, whatever they used in cooking my meal obviously had gluten in it because currently, I find myself in some pretty serious discomfort. I guess that’s the last time I eat there, which is sad because I do like meat, and the peanuts were a welcome diversion as well. However, it’s just not worth feeling the way I do now.

Guess I got complacent, figuring that I had managed so well for so long. Well not anymore… I won’t be assuming anything for a long long time.

The stomach ache just isn’t worth it, and even that 10% donation isn’t making me feel any better.

Now I’m off to find some cheese and fruit to go with my “whine”.

YES, I do go out to eat!

The big question I often get is “So, since you’re allergic to wheat, I guess you don’t eat out do you?”

Yes, I eat out. It’s not every day, and I am selective about where I will eat, but it’s a food allergy… I’m not giving up my social life! Most of the time, I cook at home, but sometimes when the spouse and I find people silly enough to be our friends, we’ll want to venture out for a meal.
Such was the case last night. We decided to take some friends to a local seafood restaurant. It’s Southern Maryland after all… Well of course the restaurant specializes in things like crab cakes, and fried shrimp, and fried fish. They also have amazing burgers, and pulled pork sandwiches.

You can see my dilemma.

This happens a lot. However, I have become very adept at ordering broiled/grilled protein, a salad, and the vegetable of the day. And while I USED to be reluctant to rock the boat, or special order my food, I’ve gotten very good at it now. I am no longer afraid to ask the difficult questions about how a meal is prepared, and to explain to my server that I am allergic to wheat, and what will happen to me if I ingest gluten. I’m finding that a lot of servers and restaurants are more aware and educated about food allergies. They are also more willing to accommodate special dietary needs.

A pound of steamed shrimp would have cost me over $20. However, the FRIED shrimp were on special…a substantial savings of money and including two side dishes! A chat with my server, Michelle, and she brainstormed the answer in the form of my shrimp being coated in Old Bay and then grilled, surrounded by a delicious tossed salad (no croutons!) and a vegetable medley of locally grown summer vegetables. You can bet her effort was appreciated, and my appreciation was reflected in her tip.

Again, it all goes back to keeping it simple. No complicated sauces, no difficult preparations, and a willingness to assert myself and ASK for information and modifications to accommodate my dietary needs. After all, if I don’t advocate for my own health, who will?

Now, who wants to take me out to dinner?