Celiac Restaurant Blogging Chronicles-Blue on Water
Here in St. John’s our Restaurant options are starting to expand. Every day I hear about a brand new Restaurant. Now for me…the prospect of a new restaurant isn’t as exciting as it used to be. 5 years ago I got the worst and best news of my life. I have Celiac! It isn’t a death sentence or anything and at least now I know why I struggled for 8 years losing and gaining 25 pounds quickly, suffering from anemia and extreme exhaustion and struggling to stay afloat in school, work and my social life despite being incredibly sick. Now…I feel GREAT! As long as I avoid eating out! Which frankly. SUCKS!
Why do I avoid eating out? Because avoiding Gluten is trendy. Someone goes to a restaurant and proceeds to inform the server they can’t have gluten, this server goes through great lengths to insure that the patron’s meal is prepared to satisfaction with no gluten contamination, their meal is delicious and they feel great and then proceed to order chocolate cake with ALL the gluten and they whisper to the server “tonight is my cheat night” *wink*
Someone with Celiac walks into the same restaurant, it’s their birthday after all, they heard this restaurant had gluten free options and they are excited and apprehensive about the prospect of eating a meal they didn’t prepare but they won’t get sick from. They proceed to tell the same server that they cannot eat gluten, they have Celiac and they would appreciate it if all the care in the world was taken with their meal. This server walks to the kitchen to place the order and rolls their eyes…”another gluten free order, I bet they order the chocolate cake”. The kitchen staff isn’t as careful, it’s not serious, just another trendy. The patron with Celiac eats their meal, drinks their wine, indulges in some conversation but suddenly…something is wrong. They barely make it to the bathroom in the restaurant before they are sick. Exposure to gluten can cause physical, physiological and emotional harm to people with Celiac. It isn’t a trend, it isn’t for weight loss. Let’s not talk about what happens when the stall door closes because it isn’t pretty, it isn’t fun it’s serious.
So this leads me back to my original reason for this blog! Restaurant critiquing. Yep, I am making it my mission to visit all the lovely establishments of St. John’s and surrounding areas that sell “gluten free options”.
At Blue on Water they have a wonderful brunch menu. They now offer gluten free hash browns! I am excited and apprehensive as I order my meal. I inform the server that I have Celiac and I would like to order the Omelette (the omelette comes with toast and hash browns) for a grand total of $17.
The server informs me that there is in fact no gluten free bread at the establishment so I won’t be able to have that. I tell the server that I would rather not have the potatoes either because even though they are offering to fry them in a frying pan separately I still don’t trust spices. I ask if since I cannot have the bread (which they have told me I cannot have and they will not substitute anything for), and I can’t have the potatoes could I please have fruit. The server cheerfully tells me she will run it by the kitchen staff.
When the servers comes back to our table she informs me I can have the fruit for an extra charge of $4. So here I am paying $17 for an omelette and I can’t have the bread and I don’t get a sub, I really am afraid of the potatoes so I can’t have those either but I have to pay another $4 to get fruit….I was astounded. There isn’t much I can have anyways and the restaurant and servers were not accommodating in the least. At this particular time I was with 2 other people. My food took twice as long and they were half done by the time I finally got mine which was literally an omelette slapped on a plate without even a garnish or strawberry (I so wish I had taken a picture!). I was still charged the $17 dollars even though I only got 1/3 of the order. I was not paying another $4 for the fruit on principle and to make matters worse I still got sick.
Now, for anyone else this experience might not seem extreme but I don’t eat out and when I do, 80% of the time I get sick. Luckily I enjoy cooking because I’m a Dietitian and I LOVE food. But not everyone does.
So trendy gluten avoiders, if you go into a restaurant and order gluten free…remember there are people who need it….really need it. So, just skip dessert. And servers, cooks and restaurant owners…there are people who NEED to eat gluten free because it isn’t an option and they put their health in YOUR hands when they walk into your establishment. They are not trying to be difficult, they are stressed about having to make such a fuss with a simple order…trust me…but they want to feel like a normal person and eat out every now and then with their friends and family.
The Newfie Celiac Dietitian
***in this case the server felt bad and there was some confusion over whether or not the meal was $12 or $17 because the two numbers looked exactly the same and I walked out of there paying only $12 but it was because I raised a fuss and refused to pay the whole amount of the meal considering what happened.