For me, gluten free fine dining is the easiest way to eat. In many fine restaurants chefs make all their sauces, stocks, glazes, and desserts in house. Because of this I have more of my questions about ingredients easily answered-and many times that they are gluten free! This doesn’t however mean that eating out at a fine restaurant is a breeze.
Do you homework! Google restaurants, call ahead-ask about their practices. If making a reservation online note your allergy or when calling. Mention your allergy when you get to the restaurant. Also mention it to the server if they don’t already ask. I’m always so pleased when the server has been notified of my allergy by the hostess before getting to my table. It lets me know that the restaurant staff communicates so there is a better chance of good communication with the kitchen staff with the servers. Servers are your advocate in the kitchen so treat them well!
I always review menus online before making reservations. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by going to a restaurant that doesn’t do substitutions. It won’t be a good experience. Be smart about where you dine. I just heard about a restaurant in Miami that was highly reviewed. I checked the online menu and they say they respectfully don’t do substitutions or omissions. Ok, then I won’t go-as I can’t risk not asking about omissions. It’s a loss for both of us but I won’t put myself in that kind of situation.
Be thorough with your review of the menu. Ask about sauces, salad dressings, toppings. I’m forgetful about croutons, and sometimes sauces. Last night I forgot to ask about a mustard dipping sauce. I luckily dogged a bullet but it’s a slip up I shouldn’t have made.
Always check your meal before you dig in. Did they really leave off breadcrumbs? Are your potatoes the right way? Check your desserts too! Just because the kitchen made your entree correctly doesn’t guarantee they won’t slip up on the dessert. Don’t forget that deep fryer! I always ask what else other than french fries are fried in the deep fryer. Occasionally I get lucky and nothing else is. But I do still peruse the menu to make sure they haven’t forgotten the calamari or the kid’s menu chicken fingers. All too often I find children’s menus to be the downfall of the deep fryer. One night I thought I was all in the clear but after double checking I found out there was a doughnut special the night before and the oil hadn’t been changed. So sadly even know there was nothing on the menu that would have caused a problem it was the dessert from the night before.
Reward the restaurant for doing a good job. Give a good tip! Thank the server. Write a review online. Make blog posts. Do anything that will also help out other gluten free folk. I wish more fine dining restaurants were reviewed. It would make traveling easier for me!
If the restaurant is local then keep frequenting them. Hopefully they will become more aware (and want to keep you as a patron) so will keep gluten free items in their menu. A personal relationship with the staff and chef at a particular restaurant will help you become more comfortable eating at that restaurant. But don’t relax too much. People are human they do make mistakes so always ask questions and don’t assume just because they made something right last time they will the next.