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Horrible Restaurant Experience

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My wife and I went to a restaurant which had a gluten-free menu. Obviously, she was very excited and ordered from the menu. When the food came out, we asked again whether or not the food was gluten-free. It was confirmed that it was. We proceeded to eat our food. About 10 minutes later, the runner comes out and says there was a mistake in the order, that our dish was not gluten-free.

Has anyone been through this experience before? What actions have you performed? In addition to the obvious physical ailments of ingesting gluten is also the emotional distress that it causes. In my mind, this is just as intrusive to someone's life.

We thought about using legal action to improve their processes and have dedicated gluten-free sections of the kitchen. Such mishandling of food does not bode well for restaurants though and I am skeptical whether or not something can be done.

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Guest gfinnebraska

Wow... I don't know what I would do. The least they could have done is give you the gluten-free meals and give them for free to boot!! I would be very upset ~ and sick! Good luck in the future...

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Wow! That's pretty awful. I feel so bad about it! It really bugs me when people fail to understand that there is a real impact to eating gluten. Sometimes I feel that people think it's just like saying you don't like it. I feel like this will start to get better and better as information about celiac disease becomes more wide spread. I totally understand the emotional frustration that you feel. Did the restaurant manager come and talk to you and/or apologize? Is it a chain restaurant or a local place? :(

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I can understand your distress over this, but my opinion is that if lawsuits start popping up, most restaurants will simply refuse to say whether or not something is gluten-free. Restaurants are not required to serve gluten-free meals any more than they're required to serve vegetarian or low-calorie meals.

richard

Edited by lovegrov

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The repercussion of a lawsuit may be to stop serving gluten-free food and thus thwart the momentum that this allergy is receiving recently. On the flip side, I see it as a real opportunity to bring this to light for the general public. This was actually a large restaurant. I will divulge the name as soon as the dust settles on this. We would really like for them (and hopefully others) in the future to handle food more responsibility. Had it been a peanut allergy, we probably would have spent the night in the hospital in the best case. Mishandling of food crosses over to more general cases such as vegetarians and religious limitations.

I will continue to update you all on what happens w/ our situation. Should anyone have any advice or support, we surely appreciate it.

I can understand your distress over this, but my opinion is that if lawsuits start popping up, most rerstaurants will simply refuse to say whether or not something is gluten-free. Restaurants are not required to serve gluten-free meals any more than they're required to serve vegetarian or low-calorie meals.

richard

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I had a similar situation at PF Changs recently. We went there because there was 2 of us dining with celiac. We asked for the gluten-free menus and verified the appetizers were gluten-free as they brought them out. The server was very helpful and understanding (we had a party of 14 with 8 kids) and brought out the gluten-free soy sauce etc.

However, when they brought my main course I asked if it was gluten-free and they said yes. Then a few minutes later they came back and said they made a mistake. I had not eaten it yet as I was finishing the gluten-free lettuce wraps. My initial reaction was relief and I thanked them for catching and admitting their mistake. Later, I thought to myself should I have gotten upset since they made the error to begin with.

Should we have had doubts about the enitire meal or should we feel extra confident that they corrected their mistake?

BTW - I felt fine afterwards but I don't always have an immediate reaction.

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Here's the thing, people make mistakes. Yes, I realize that it's your health (and my health! I'm in the same boat), but you are putting yourself at risk with food that you don't prepare yourself. It's always a question of determining what an acceptable risk is. In a situation like that, I think a lawsuit is not appropriate, because - as has been noted - they do not have a legal responsibility to provide you with a special meal. I do think that it's worth discussing more with the manager/chef/owners (even if it's a chain), to help them understand the repercurssions of their actions. There's still no guarantee - there can't be in a situation like that - but it may help.

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It is frustrating when you look at menu's and not one thing is glute-free or you stand in the middle of a food fair and realize there is not one thing that you can eat. It is always a chance when you eat out. My family is so worried

of contaminating me that I am cooking all the dinners this Yule season.

The restaurant experience I had was good but then since I have been diagnosed I have only ate out once.

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I got sick at PF CHang's once. I know they messed my order up, but didn't want to make a big scene about it. OF course I didn't realize this until I had eaten most of it, but had my suspicions. My case was a bit odd in that I had forgotten to order the lettuce wraps with tofu instead of chicken and gluten-free. Well they sent them out gluten-free with chicken. SO I sent them back and said I meant to order them with tofu and I think that they forgot to say gluten-free the second go round. THe dish looked like their regular lettuce wraps and not the one's I had had that were gluten-free the time before. I almost questioned them again, but someone else had brought them out and I was starving. Stupid mistake on my part. Needless to say, I was very sick that night and know they were wrong. I had a good experience there the first time I ate there. I am just scared to eat out personally and it isn't worth it to me. I rarely eat out and I agree it is a risk we take when we go out. As far as it being compared to a Peanut allergy, I agree, but it is easier to keep peanuts out of a kitchen, then wheat. I think that making too big of a deal about this will make no restaurant want to say anything is gluten-free, so I think it is a personal decision about whether we choose to eat out or not. Just my opinion. Believe me, I didn't enjoy being sick and I am scared to go back.

MOnica

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IAs far as it being compared to a Peanut allergy, I agree, but it is easier to keep peanuts out of a kitchen, then wheat.

Also, the unknown presence of peanuts in a dish can KILL someone who has a severe peanut allergy. If wheat sneaks into your dish and you're Celiac, it won't *kill* you. It'll just make you sick for a few days...and otherwise *contribute* to a variety of fatal health problems that you may suffer if you eat more gluten. And if that happens, it's hard to prove legally that so-and-so died because of the negligence of one single restaurant. So, lawsuit-wise, the restaurant is in the clear if they accidentally glutenize you. But if you drop dead in a restaurant, that's a whole different story.

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I've reported my "method" before for avoiding this and I've had some tell me its overkill, however prior to my "method" I was glutened at Outback, since the "method" I've not been glutened.

In restaurants that advertise they do gluten-free (like outback, pf changs, Legal Seafood, some local places) when I walk in I say to the host/hostess that I need a gluten-free menu and when they seat me I ask if they could send the manager over to my table.

When the manager comes to my table I introduce myself and then butter them up a bit, that I've had great experiences in their establishments and that's why I'm back, but I'm more sensitive then most to gluten so I need to take extra care that the waiter and chef (I never say cook even if it is one) understand gluten-free. That puts a bit of the responsibility in the managers lap for not messing up. In every single case when I've done this the manager goes and speaks to the waiter and/or chef.

When I order I tell the waiter I need him to make sure it gluten-free for me and I ask him if he could make a notation on the order ticket for me that it must be gluten free.

When the food comes I reinerate, "Are you sure its gluten free" and almost every single time right then the manager comes to the table and assures me that my meal is gluten-free.

It all only takes a few minutes and it increases my chances of getting a gluten-free meal, not to mention I now know the managers in quite a few restaurants and because I'm very positive about their restaurants, their individual service, and I tip well, they are more then happy to see me and I get good tables to boot!

When I posted this before I had a few people tell me that it takes too long or that they don't like being the center of attention, I don't make a big deal out of this, its all done quietly but I'm not willing to be sick for a few weeks every time I eat out.

Susan

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I've reported my "method" before for avoiding this and I've had some tell me its overkill, however prior to my "method" I was glutened at Outback, since the "method" I've not been glutened.

In restaurants that advertise they do gluten-free (like outback, pf changs, Legal Seafood, some local places) when I walk in I say to the host/hostess that I need a gluten-free menu and when they seat me I ask if they could send the manager over to my table.

When the manager comes to my table I introduce myself and then butter them up a bit, that I've had great experiences in their establishments and that's why I'm back, but I'm more sensitive then most to gluten so I need to take extra care that the waiter and chef (I never say cook even if it is one) understand gluten-free. That puts a bit of the responsibility in the managers lap for not messing up. In every single case when I've done this the manager goes and speaks to the waiter and/or chef.

When I order I tell the waiter I need him to make sure it gluten-free for me and I ask him if he could make a notation on the order ticket for me that it must be gluten free.

When the food comes I reinerate, "Are you sure its gluten free" and almost every single time right then the manager comes to the table and assures me that my meal is gluten-free.

It all only takes a few minutes and it increases my chances of getting a gluten-free meal, not to mention I now know the managers in quite a few restaurants and because I'm very positive about their restaurants, their individual service, and I tip well, they are more then happy to see me and I get good tables to boot!

When I posted this before I had a few people tell me that it takes too long or that they don't like being the center of attention, I don't make a big deal out of this, its all done quietly but I'm not willing to be sick for a few weeks every time I eat out.

Susan

Well Susan, I am with you. So what if it takes some extra time? At least you know that you will not get glutened. My mother is allergic to dairy and when we go out we are super cautious to be sure that there is no milk or dairy of any kind in what she has ordered. If you are asking a ton of questions and then you leave a nice generous tip you will be remebered next time and you will be taken care of .

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I had a similar experience at PF Chang's in San Diego--they sent the food out gluten free but then they gave me the gluten filled sauce, and since I'd never eaten there before, I didn't know what the gluten free sauce was supposed to look like. The server ran out and said the sauce was not gluten free only after I happily and obliviously ate several bites of gluten--needless to say, I was sick immediately and felt off kilter the entire weekend of my friend's wedding.

I also just got glutened at Outback last weekend even though I ordered what I always order the same way I always order it--I'm not going to lose the faith though--maybe I'll try the "method" as well.

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We, also, have a manager come to our table. A few weeks ago, the manager at Buffalo Wild Wings told me to always ask for a manager b/c they are trained as line chefs and will go back and actually cook the food for us themselves. The 3 times we've eaten there, this same manager always is there and comes back around just after the food is delivered to assure us it's ok. So far, she has eaten fine w/no reactions!

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I've done the same thing as 'the method' before. I called our hotel in town (who have nice restaurants), and they told me that they would look after me. As soon as we were seated, they sent the assistant manager to look after me. He personally supervised the food being cooked, making sure a special corner of the kitchen was dedicated to just cooking for me. They cleaned the pots and pans and everything else again before using it for me, including the dishes. I was fine afterwards, and would feel safe going there again.

But since I've found out about the million other intolerances, I haven't dared go out. Especially because I hate being the center of attention, I prefer to be left alone. I guess you can't have everything. Maybe I'll go back there some time soon, because I know they'd make sure I'd be fine.

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