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MrsManners

What Do You Say To The Server In A Restaurant?

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What do you say to explain that you can't have gluten to a server or a chef in a restaurant? I need a script so tell me as if I were your server.

Also, do you use a restaurant card? If so, do you just give it to them or do you give it to them and then explain?

I work in sales and travel some so I'm going to be forced to eat out and I want to get it right. Thanks!

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They have Triumph Dining Cards. But as I learned today....sadly....that you shouldnt just talk to the server. You MUST ask for the Manager. The Manger will make sure it is done right. Servers generally wont.

It is basically a crap shoot when your health is the hands of others. For instance, today, I ate out with my family. They miss it so and I wanted to feel "normal" for a day. So off to Cheescake Factory we went. I brought my own dressing and meat and dessert. Initially I was just going to get a salad and toss my own meat on it (I've done this before without issue). BUT I mentioned Celiac to the server and she said....oh...yes...our General Manager has Celiac so we are VERY AWARE and TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION. He eats here......I said...so you know I need fresh pans....YES....So I ordered sauteed spinach and asparagus cuz I had meat. So I am sitting there eating my asparagus and it dawns on me that I didnt say....no pasta water. When she check on us....I ask her if she made sure my asparagus was cooked in fresh water. Nope. She comes back and takes the plate away and says that ALL of their veggies are cooked in pasta water. mad.gif

Then the Manager comes to our table and asks who he just "poisoned". He knew of course knew the consequences. He felt terrible. Apologized profusely for his server not being trained well enough. So he paid for all of our food....about 60.00 worth for my DH and DD with dessert. Now....I wait.....and pray.......


GLUTEN FREE 4/4/08. LEGUME/SOY FREE 5/15/08. YEAST FREE. CORN FREE. GRAIN FREE. DAIRY FREE. I am eating all meats, eggs, veggies, fruits, squash, nuts and seeds. I just keep getting better every day. :)

Do not let any of the advice given here substitute for good medical care. Let this forum be a catalyst for research. Find support for any post in here before you believe it to be true. Arm yourself with knowledge. Let your doctor be your assistant. Listen to their advice, but follow your own instincts as well. Miracles are within your reach. You can heal!

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What do you say to explain that you can't have gluten to a server or a chef in a restaurant? I need a script so tell me as if I were your server.

Also, do you use a restaurant card? If so, do you just give it to them or do you give it to them and then explain?

I work in sales and travel some so I'm going to be forced to eat out and I want to get it right. Thanks!

Here is one person's protocol, at allergic girl's restaurant instructions - she is gluten-free, nut free, fish free, etc...

In general, 'chain' restaurants with gluten-free menus are okay.

'chain' restaurants w/o gluten-free menus are tough

'fancy' (make it themselves from scratch) restaurants are better than chains w/o gluten-free menus but it depends...check here or on your local celiac support group's site to find gluten aware restaurants to try

Cards can help. Chefs really DO appreciate it if you call ahead.

The more you eat out, the better you will get at communicating with the server & dealing with menus (I am now a menu gluten psychic, very good at guessing where gluten is least likely but I ALWAYS double check that it really isn't there).

When you get your food, if *anything* looks amiss, double check before touching it or taking a bite! If you don't feel comfortable that your server can handle your needs, talk to the manager or the chef. Or leave if it's really not working.

I have found that using open table (for restaurants that link to it) is effective, a note there that I am gluten-free is much more likely to reach the server than a note on a phone reservation in my experience.

check the travel and restaurant boards here for good tips, too. kenlove has had many very useful posts on this topic, try searching for those.

Good luck and happy eating!!


gluten-free (except unintentionally) from 7 Dec 2007

3 gluten-free cousins and counting (1 gold standard, 1 pos blood/no endo, 1 self/dietary diagnosed)

suspect mother was celiac (also, cousin suspects my mother's twin is celiac)

Feb 08 testing 'normal range' for gluten antibodies, IBD and food allergies

Staying off gluten - dietary reaction is compelling for me!

"Hi, I'm the gluten-free diner at your table."

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You need to make sure they "get it". If you feel uneasy or they seem annoyed or confused....go hungry and eat when you get home. I travel for work too. I usually just but some fruit and veggies, cheese and crackers. I used to get sick way too often. It is so not worth it.

I went out with a group last night. It was a set menu because of the size of the group. My sister and I both have celiac and called several days ahead to discuss the menu. We were presented with a gluten free menu that they had altered from the set menu. They seemed really on the ball. The side dishes were served seperately for everyone but the waiter assured us they were fine. I had an uneasy feeing when I saw the rice and green beans. Looked like there was soy sauce on them. So I asked. And there was. It is kind of scary to think they seemed so confident and sure our meal was gluten free but didn't even know there was wheat in soy sauce. It was a very high end restaurant too. If in doubt always, always ask.

I never even thought that vegetables would be cooked in pasta water. Wow! Scary.


Gluten Free since April 2007

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I haven't eaten out much, but I hope this helps:

I tell the server I have Celiac disease, and could I please talk to the manager or chef about what is safe on the menu for me to eat. ( most managers have some idea about celiac, as do most chefs. Servers usually don't have a clue)

I usually have a couple of different ittems on the menu picked out, so I can get specific about what I want and how it can be modified.

I have Celiac disease, which means I will get sick if I eat anything with wheat , barley.........

How do you season your steaks?....or chicken or fish...

Do you use a cooking spray?....(some use Baker's Joy to prevent sticking...contains wheat)

Can you fix mine without seasoning?

Could you cook mine on a separate pan?...or put foil down on your grill?...( I had one restaurant say they couldn't)

How do you fix your veggies. Could you cook mine in the microwave?

I try to call ahead during a slow time of the day first. I research the restaurant by looking for their website and trying to find their menu.......gluten-free or regular, then googling the restaurant on celiac.com to see what others have experienced.

One time my company took us out to lunch to a steak place. I knew we would all be served the same thing, but didn,t know what that would be. I found out on this forum that their green beans were not safe, nor the seasonings on the meat. They coat their potatoes in bacon fat.

They were not open to regular customers during the day so didn't answer their phone. So when I got there I told the hostess I needed to talk to the manager, because I have Celiac disease (I always use the word "disease" cuz I figure they'll realize it's serious and not just some dietary fad) and there are certain foods that make me sick. He came to my table and we discussed what was to be served----chicken, green beans, and a baked potato. I asked him to have mine fixed without seasoning, with foil on the grill. I told him I couldn't have the green beans, so he offered a mixed vegetable. I said I can't have the bacon fat on the potato, so he had mine microwaved. (The potatoes were already cooked, so he had to get a fresh one for me.) I apologized for being such a pain :sweetsmile!: He was very nice and concerned that he did everything right. The manager oversaw my entire meal.

I'm sure others will think of things I have forgotten....but this is a start. Hence the reason I don't eat out much :P


~~Lisa~~

"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."--Moliere

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."--Douglas Adams

Friends may come and go but Sillies are Forever!!!!!!!--Amanda

_________________

gluten-free since 1/08

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I am still really struggling with this issue! My first big hint is to hand them a list or card or something in writing. The long list scares them and it is usually noisy in restaurants. ("I can't eat wheat." "Oh, we have lots of vegetarian choices!") My other big hint is to use the term bare naked--I want just bare naked chicken. They are usually appalled by my terminology but they leave everything off.

I had no idea about the pasta water either. Ew.


diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002--all test numbers off the charts

dairy free since 2000, soy free since 2007

other food intolerances: citrus, sesame, potatoes, corn, coffee

fibromyalgia, osteoporosis

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I usually say "I cannot eat anything with wheat, flour, barley or rye - this also means I cannot eat any bread, soy sauce or miso. Even a very small amount will make me very sick".

Again, if the server doesn't seem to get it - or doesn't seem to care - go to the manager or the kitchen. Generally, I have best luck with tiny family-run places or fancy/foodie places. Chains without gluten-free menus scare me the most, I'm not sure if anyone in the kitchen really knows what's in the food.

Most servers, and a fair number of kitchens, have no idea about wheat in soy sauce, much less barley in miso. Not that so many places use miso, but some of the 'fusion' type restaurants use it quite a bit.

Amazing how many folks then assume I cannot eat corn or rice...but most places after a few back-and-forths it eventually works out.

And I almost always have food with me - lara bars, nuts, something safe to tide me over in case it doesn't work.

frec, I like the "bare naked" term.

And yes the pasta water is something I would never have thought of, first heard about it on this forum a few months ago. Also always check about fried items, most of the time unless you are the first diner getting food after new oil -- some restaurants this is 2x/day, some it's hard to tell ;) -- the fry oil has already been used for everything (breaded/glutened and not)

One thing I look for is anything marked as 'sauted' or 'pan fried' or the word 'skillet' - often this means your dish is cooked in its own pan. Always ask to double check, though!!

other random thoughts on menu terms:

'braised' just means cooked with liquid (usually in oven, sometimes stove top), but *very* often there is a dusting of flour on the meat with this method, so generally I avoid it.

'crispy' almost always means breaded

'dusted' anything almost always means some flour dredging

'oven roasted' usually means cooked ahead of time, so it can be hard to alter such dishes if they aren't gluten-free in the first place

'rice pilaf' is often code for *there's pasta in this rice*

most any 'stuffed' item will have bread or breadcrumbs involved

'crab' often means sea legs, which have gluten. Best to ask both "is this sea legs" and if it's "all plain crab", not just if it's "real crab" (different regions call this different stuff - seafood salad, surimi are other terms I've seen)

Anyone else have favorite menu trigger words?


gluten-free (except unintentionally) from 7 Dec 2007

3 gluten-free cousins and counting (1 gold standard, 1 pos blood/no endo, 1 self/dietary diagnosed)

suspect mother was celiac (also, cousin suspects my mother's twin is celiac)

Feb 08 testing 'normal range' for gluten antibodies, IBD and food allergies

Staying off gluten - dietary reaction is compelling for me!

"Hi, I'm the gluten-free diner at your table."

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