Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

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.



Maggie May’s Ice Cream – Pound Ridge, NY July 2, 2012

We just returned from another fabulous trip to my parents’ house in New York.  While there to celebrate a host of festive occasions, we had plenty of long, unstructured summer days to enjoy.  And, nothing tops off such quintessential summertime like a visit to a good ice cream shop.


Maggie May’s in Pound Ridge appears to have their act together.  Although they just opened, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness in which the owner considered her shop.  Set up as both for ice cream and self-serve frozen yogurt, Maggie May’s also serves dairy-free sorbet.  A coup!


I spoke with the owner, who mentioned that one of her own children has a variety of food allergies, appeared very careful about how she handles and prepares her treats.  She makes her own ice cream and sorbet by first processing the sorbet on the thoroughly cleaned machines, followed by the ice cream, followed by the ice cream with nuts thereby reducing risk of cross contamination.  She offered to get my son sprinkles from the back, to ensure they were safe.   Although state requirements are that ice cream parlors have something like 2-4 scoops, she uses more than 20!  Each scoop only gets used in one flavor bucket before it goes in for sterilization – again eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination from scoopers.  What a relief!  And, she was more than happy to double check ingredients when we asked and followed up with us as he was eating.


What impressed me most of all was the owner and her son’s concern for my son when they noticed him laying with his head on my lap as I sat on a bench outside their shop.  Unrelated to their sorbet, he was beginning to feel sick (I don’t know…could it have been the 14 treats he ate before consuming a huge lunch in the heat and THEN sorbet?!  Yes.).  They immediately came out to check on him, offer him ice water, and double checked his order (all perfectly safe for him).  I appreciated their concern and was enjoyed getting to know them.


I wish Maggie May’s well!  In my book, they’re doing everything right.


Elevation Burger January 29, 2012

I was recently contacted by Elevation Burger execs with whom I had a fabulous conversation about their brand and food allergies.  They were so happy to hear about our great experiences eating at their franchises, re-emphasizing that [feeling well taken care of is] “definitely the mission that our brand tries to embody.”  Elevation Burger’s Managing Partner could relate to my post noting that he himself has a severe dairy allergy.  “I hear you loud and clear on that!” he wrote,  “It’s very few restaurants that take allergies seriously.  Since I’ve been involved with EB I’ve made sure our staff and franchisees are aware of just how serious an allergy can be and how we can, and should, accommodate our guests who have an allergy.”  


**CORRECTION:  Importantly, the Managing Partner noted that I had mentioned in my original post that their hamburger buns had dairy in them.  Well, turns out that Elevation Burger switched suppliers a few years ago and the buns no longer contain dairy (only vegan butter flavoring).  So, go out and get eating —  burger, buns and all!**


Ok, it’s hard for me to convey just how much I love Elevation Burger.  A fairly new burger chain, Elevation Burger’s hook is that the ingredients are so fresh and of great quality.  And, it is relayed in the way it tastes:  Heavenly…


Their menu consists mainly of organic burgers and veggie burgers with a smattering of other options.  Not to be missed are their “diet fries”.  Ok, they’re not really diet.  But they are heart healthy as the folks at Elevation Burger fry them in olive oil.  To justify their essential consumption, I think of them as “health food”…


But not only is Elevation Burger delicious, they were so great handling my son’s food allergies.  For example, several years ago Elevation Burger used buns which contained milk. (Please see CORRECTION above regarding EB’s buns)  At that time, they suggested serving my son’s burger wrapped in lettuce.  They’ve offered to give him Oreos from their milkshake station when his friends were eating the homemade variety they sell.  I certainly felt they took his allergies very seriously and I really appreciated that.  And, the limited menu reduces the risk of possible dangerous cross-contamination.


It’s lunchtime as I’m writing this… I might just have to go to Elevation now!


Tribeca Grill, NYC March 2, 2011


You’d have hardly known it was my mother’s birthday this weekend.  Except if you were at Tribeca Grill on Saturday night.  Upon entry to the restaurant, she inquired/announced to the hostesses (and everyone within earshot),  “Hello, we-have-a-reservation-at-7:30-it’s-my-BIRTHDAY!”


Not only was I overjoyed to be in NY celebrating with my mother,  but I was also pleased to see how Tribeca Grill handled food allergies.  Although my kids were back home in D.C. and I didn’t have to manage my family’s food allergy issues personally that night, other members of our party did.


I noticed right away their menu was sparingly dotted with asterisks, noting dishes that either contained nuts or nut oils.  A good start!  Someone at our table ordered a dish without sesame seeds.  When the dish arrived without sesame noodles, but sprinkled with sesame seeds the waiter became gravely concerned.  Of course it shouldn’t have come with the seeds in the first place.  But I was happy to see the seriousness with which the waiter surveyed the dish and his offer to immediately replace it.


For dessert, I noticed they offered a sorbet du jour — something to look forward to if you’re living dairy-free.


Tribeca Grill offers something for everyone and my meal, for one, was DE-LISH!   I can’t wait to go back!


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.


Gluten-free Pizza in Connecticut December 24, 2010

If you live in Fairfield County and you can’t eat wheat or gluten, you are in LUCK!   I was just shopping in New Canaan, CT yesterday when I noticed that one of the town’s most delicious and enduring pizza shops now offers gluten-free pizza.  How I would have killed for this when my son was allergic to wheat (now outgrown).

For those of you still avoiding wheat or gluten, Pinocchio Pizza is a great option.  Located on Elm Street, it has been featured on the Today Show, Emeril Live, Rachel Ray and the Food Network to name a few.

If you know of other gluten-free pizza options, feel free to share it with others below.