Dining Out?

An important thing to remember is that unless a restaurant, bakery, candy shop, ice cream parlour, bar, et cetera, is 100% dedicated to being gluten free, it may not always be safe. Just because it didn’t make you sick last month doesn’t mean it won’t make you sick this month.  Or even from one week or day to the next. Are there non-dedicated restaurants I will go to eat? Yes, but they are few and far between, and I never make assumptions.

Always, always, always double check before you order. (And after you receive your food.) The staff may have changed. The ownership may have changed.  The supplier may have changed. Today’s cook may not know you can’t cook the gluten free pasta in the same pot as the gluten pasta. Yes, there are plenty of stories of restaurants not only using the same pot (which is risky enough) but scooping out the gluten pasta and putting the gluten-free pasta in the same water! Or even cooking them together but saying it’s safe because they’re inside their own little pasta holders! (ex.: I hear this about Olive Garden restaurants all the time; in a variety of states.)

And it never hurts to make sure that the dedicated gluten-free place is still dedicated. Ask the tough questions, because it is better safe than sorry for you! I found an amazing chocolate store in Boston, MA in 2018. They were listed as a dedicated gluten free facility. They did sell some non-GF candy, but it was from another company, and came in already packaged in fancy little sealed candy boxes.

All good, right? Nope. They’d started selling chocolate covered pretzels – gluten pretzels. Shared lines. AND the pretzels were in the same display case as everything else, loose, with every possibility of breaking and shedding little gluten crumbs into the case. They didn’t see the problem with it. They said no one had reported an issue. But if you’re ostensibly buying candy from a store marketing themselves as dedicated gluten free, you’re going to assume that the pretzels are also gluten free, right? The only reason I found out is the lady working there that day overheard me say something to my wife about the pretzels looking good, and she admitted the truth. But most people would assume something else made them sick, and in those scenarios, it can take a long, long time to put two and two together.

Always check the date of my reviews too. I started checking with companies in 2008. Some may have gotten better; some may be the same; some may be worse. And if I know of a write-up for the same place from a GF blogger I trust (like Gluten Dude), I will include that link (or links) too.

Always play it safe, no matter how gluten-free friendly places say they are. Do your homework. Bring chef cards. Be prepared to explain about cross contamination. Ask to speak with the chef if you don’t think the waiter understands. If you don’t think anyone understands, go somewhere else!