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Follow-Up Review: Gordon Biersch and Food Allergies November 15, 2012

Even though I already wrote a review on Gordon Biersch’s express restaurant at National Airport in Washington DC, I wanted to follow-up with a more general write-up having just eaten at one of their full restaurants.

 

Again, Gordon Biersch’s waitstaff was incredibly helpful and clearly trained to handle allergy questions.  They were more than willing to take all questions back to the chefs and return with workable suggestions.  For example, GB’s fries have dairy in them.  Big bummer for a 7 year old.  But the waiter came back with several possible safe side substitutions from which my son could choose.

 

GB also has both a Vegan (which, of course, means dairy and egg-free) as well as Gluten-Free Menu from which to order.  Although the vegan selections are limited, it’s nice to have them singled out.  And, if you’re a meat eater, there is certainly a lot you can have on the menu with a little tweaking.

 

Finally, when the rest of the kids were planning to order dessert, the managers at our particular GB didn’t mind us running out to grab my FA son something he could enjoy.  We really appreciated the accommodation – and so did my son!

While we wished for french fries, we all had a great experience at GB.  With their attention to food allergies in both staff training and menu, we’d certainly go back.

 

 

Buy Me Some Popcorn and Cracker Jacks? Peanut-Free Baseball Begins! March 19, 2012

According to Reuters, roughly half the MLB plays host to peanut-free sections throughout their seasons.  For those who are severely allergic to peanuts, the idea of sitting next to someone unshelling peanuts seems daunting.  Although the risk of a reaction at an outdoor venue is very small, according to Dr. Wood (see http://nyti.ms/aFiHNY), these special accommodations offer enormous peace of mind at a traditionally peanut-full sporting event.

  

Many teams now offer peanut-free sections, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets among many others.  And, don’t forget about the minor league teams joining the peanut-free trend!

 

As for our local team, the Washington Nationals will host peanut-free sections during certain games in June, July and August games.  These typically sell-out quickly, so be on the look-out for peanut free game announcements!  Baseball season kicks off March 28th.

 
 
 
 
For details, check out:  Peanut-Free Sections In Baseball Stadiums Welcomes Allergic Fans
 

Gordon Biersch December 19, 2011

We’re finally en route to our warm weather winter vacation.  Although, let’s face it, with all this mild weather, what are we really escaping?!  Either way, we all need the break and are so excited!

 

As always, eating proves most challenging when the options are limited.  And the airport is like the epitome of limited options.  I’ve brought snacks, but we need dinner.

 

We sat down at a Gordon Biersch restaurant-ette where they offer a small selection from their regular menu.  Thankfully, one of those options was a burger (safe without the cheese and bun), so I knew we had a back-up if all else failed.  It figured that my son wanted grilled turkey.  So, we ordered the Turkey Sandwich, hold the sandwich.

 

Our experience was surprisingly good here.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • The waitress looked at me cross-eyed when I ordered the sandwichless sandwich, but understood as soon as I explained we had multiple food allergy issues to deal with.  She made note of them all before we continued.
  • I asked about what kind of fry oil they used, since French fries were offered as a side to the non-sandwich we ordered.  Without prompting, she said that my son could not have the French fries.  Turns out they’re soaked in milk (much like McDonald’s fries are).  I was impressed with both her knowledge and confident decision to keep him from eating something potentially unsafe.
  • She returned to let us know our food would take an extra few minutes, as the chef was thoroughly cleaning the grill to prepare my son’s turkey.  [They usually use a little butter on the grill and didn’t want to contaminate the food inadvertently.]
 

My son, almost 7, was a little disappointed that his little brother could eat fries and he couldn’t.  So, with a quick check on the smartphone, we learned that Ranch 1 Grilled Chicken’s French fries are safe (per their online allergen info) and ran across the terminal aisle to grab him some.

 

I was impressed with Gordon Biersch and most specifically our waitress.  And, this served as a great reminder that sometimes the restaurant has good procedures to handle food allergies and sometimes you strike gold with an allergy-aware server.  And, as in the case with this Gordon Biersch outpost, we got lucky and had both!

 

Famous Daves is Food Allergy Fabulous October 8, 2011

File:Famous Dave's logo.png

If you’re lucky enough to live near a Famous Dave’s, then eating out just got a whole lot easier.

 

A Famous Dave’s moved into our area recently and when invited to eat there with friends, we wasted no time in saying yes.  As with all new restaurants, I set out to do my homework to ensure my FA son had a few menu items from which to choose.  Much to my surprise (and delight), Famous Dave’s has a link to their Food Allergen Guide (Click HERE for printable PDF).  Yay!

 

The Food Allergen Guide lists all of their menu items, checking off which include wheat, milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.  I noticed right away that nothing on their menu contained peanuts and only one thing contained tree nuts.  A huge relief just having those allergens out of the way.

 

While the Allergen Guide covered the top eight allergens, it did not identify which items contained sesame seeds.  I chose one or two menu items my son was interested in and asked the staff if they might have sesame seeds somewhere in them.  The girls I spoke with immediately went back to the kitchen to check on the items in questions.  They also came back telling me that the fries that usually accompany those dishes were fried in a safe oil as well (believe it was canola).  I was impressed with their quick reaction to my questions and forethought on the oil.

 

Our meals were all delicious. PS:  They serve prepackaged Oreos with all the kids meal…a safe cookie for us!  Bonus!

 

So, not only did Famous Dave’s handle food allergies responsibly, but their food was delicious and atmosphere fun!  We’re all already looking forward to catching the next football game there.

 

Uncle Julio’s Restaurant – No Mas! March 25, 2011

When my girlfriends and I scheduled dinner during my gluten-free week, I thought it was perfect that we chose to go to Rio Grande in Arlington (now Uncle Julio’s).  How easy would it be to avoid the flour tortillas and order something delicious off their extensive menu?!  I was hungry already.

 

Hours before going, I called to verify that their addictive tortilla chips did not contain wheat flour (they don’t).  But in doing so, I learned there was VERY little I could order on their menu.  Turns out, my choices were:  salad with no dressing and few toppings, fajitas with no marinade or sides, cheese enchilada with cheese sauce (that’s right:  cheese on cheese) and a grilled vegetable platter (again with no sides).

 

I ordered the grilled vegetable platter at the urging of our waiter who clearly felt bad for me.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  The vegetables were overly spiced and just not that great.  Thank GOD for those tortilla chips and salsa!

 

In short, if you’re eating wheat and gluten-free, you might do better somewhere else.

 

 

 

Jason’s Deli – A Healthy Habit I Could Get Into! March 14, 2011

Jason’s Deli, located locally in Tyson’s Corner, Fairfax and ALL over the country, has a simple philosophy.  Keep it healthy and delicious.  We ate lunch at Jason’s for the first time this weekend.  I had heard rave reviews and even so it exceeded my expectations.  And, while the philosophy may be simple their menu is extensive!  Jason’s Deli serves soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as baked potatoes with every kind of topping imaginable, po’boys, and desserts.  Plus there’s FREE ice cream.  That’s right: free.

 

Many of their ingredients are organic and all are nitrite-, artificial color- and dye-free.  Jason’s Deli long ago eliminated high fructose corn syrup as well as trans-fat from their food — and you’ll never miss it!

 

The menu appears to be highly customizable – which is how we ordered for my food allergic older son and my picky eater younger one.  And, they offer a gluten-free menu for those avoiding wheat and gluten products.  Jason’s Deli handled our allergy requests with ease and took our concerns seriously from the register to the table service.

 

NB: their organic lollipops, located at the registers, are dairy, egg, soy, tree nut and peanut-free (www.yummyearth.com/ingredients.html).  It seems like just a small thing — unless you’re on line with a 3 year old!

Jason’s Deli Menu

Jason’s Deli Gluten-Free Menu

Jason’s Deli Allergen Info

 

God Bless Bloomingdales! February 28, 2011

I spent the weekend in and around my hometown in New York.  And, as we’ve been known to do, my  mother and I decided to head down to White Plains to check in at Bloomingdale’s.

 

If there weren’t already enough reasons to love Bloomingdale’s, let me give you one more.  A trip to their cafe, Forty Carrots revealed something else to love about this landmark department store.  They sell Divvies treats!   If you don’t already know, Divvies bakery produces delicious dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free cookies, candy, and popcorn among other things.

 

 

Now I’m not sure all of Bloomingdale’s cafes carry Divvies’ products, but it’s worth checking out.   So bring the kids shopping and reward them (or yourself!) and replenish with SAFE treats once you’ve exhausted the sales racks.

 

 

http://www.divvies.com/

 

 
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