If it’s breakfast time and a weekend, you’ll most likely find our family dining at the McLean Family Restaurant (known to locals as MFR) in McLean, VA. We go there so often that the waitstaff no longer gives us menus and barely even takes our order. In fact, they just bring my husband his meal without even looking at him… he’s what we call “predictable.” It’s not just the convenient proximity, nor the friendly staff, nor the delicious food that draws us there. It’s their flexibility and attention to detail that keeps us coming.
In this case, the details are important: my son, my father-in-law and mother-in-law, who all have food allergies. Who all, by the way, have DIFFERENT food allergies. You can imagine ordering sometimes takes quite a while with all the questions and omissions. The manager and owners are attentive and thorough about understanding our families’ specific needs. So much so that they have actually brought me packaging from premade or other specialty items to read, approve, or be reassured by them.
Family owned restaurants are a great resources to those of us who live with food allergies. For one, owners are generally on-hand and managers are very familiar with the menu – often enough to know immediately whether or not an ingredients is used in any given dish. Secondly, dishes can be altered slightly to accomdate; such as asking for something to be sauteed in oil rather than butter. And, menus tend to be easy to mix and match. For example, MFR can easily substitute a sesame seed hamburger bun (allergy alert!) for whole wheat toast or whip up some fruit (only on the breakfast menu) for dessert when my son’s friends all order chocolate cake.