Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The GF Travel Experience

I was sick, then I travelled for a week…so, I have been away for a while.  Sometimes in life pauses just happen.  I had a nasty cold, it wasn’t much fun, and it took almost two weeks to get through.  I guess if you are only going to get sick once during cold season you may as well do it all and get it out of your system.

On the bright side, part of the travel was a quick trip up to see family for a couple of days.  It was great to spend some time with my parents, siblings and nieces/nephews.  I really wish that I lived closer so I could spend more time with them.  I have lived far away for over 20 years now and it never gets any easier.

I thought I would mention a couple of restaurant experiences during my travels last week, one big negative, and some really positive.  GF eating out can be quite the experience!  What’s surprising to me is where you will find knowledgeable people that can help and where you find people that just plain don’t care.  I’m going to start with the just plain don’t care because I want to end on a positive note.

On the "don’t care what you want/need" end of the spectrum you will find Rao’s Italian at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  I will say that I don’t know if the entire restaurant’s attitude was the same as the experience that I had indicates, but it certainly made me angry and unlikely to recommend the restaurant to anyone, GF or not.  I started out by checking the website for the restaurant, it indicated that they will accommodate for those with food allergies.  That’s usually a good indicator that I should find some good options and a good attitude at the place.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case at this restaurant. 

We ended up with a waiter that had the worst attitude about everything.  When asked if they had a GF menu his response was “No” with nothing but a stare following it.  Ok, I thought, I need to ask…do you have anything on the menu you can recommend?  “No”.  Ok, is there anything on the menu that you know wouldn’t have gluten/wheat?  “Maybe a salad”.  REALLY??  Then I asked him a couple of basic questions, which apparently irritated him.  When I asked if he would be willing to ask the chef to make one little change to a dish (Veal Picatta, which can be prepared without flour) he refused and told me it simply wasn’t an option.  I moved on and ended up with a chicken dish that’s prepared on the bone.  I have a weird thing about meat served on the bone, so I asked the waiter if the chicken could be removed from the bone prior to serving…..guess what the answer was?  No.  I ordered it anyway; it was pretty much the only thing I could tell likely wouldn’t have gluten.  The waiter refused to put anything indicating a gluten allergy on the ticket.  Can you say pissed off?  When the service assistant (who clearly had better people skills than her senior partner) came to clear our plates and noted I hadn’t touched mine she asked if I liked it, I simply answered “no”.  She offered to replace it with something else; at that point I was so mad I was no longer hungry so I told her no.  At least the manager removed it from the final bill, but he never bothered to come to the table to ask about our experience.  Really bad idea people, I was the one paying the bill.

Anyway, enough of that one, there were some good experiences as well.  There was breakfast at Denny’s and IHOP with wait staff that actually understood and were helpful.  I find it amazing that I paid less than ¼ of the cost at Rao’s and received service way above them.  Lunch was at Jason’s Deli where they actually carry GF bread.  Dinner at the hotel again, this time at Mesa Grill, a place I have wanted to go to forever (I’m a big Bobby Flay fan).  The waitress was wonderful, accommodating, and knowledgeable.  I had an amazing meal, lots of flavor, great experience and all GF.  My thanks to Mesa Grill for making my last evening in Las Vegas a positive one; it was all I was hoping it would be.

Finally, I had a GREAT lunch with my Mom at a place in Portland, Oregon named Old Wives Tale.  What an amazing restaurant, a huge menu that stated exactly what was in everything (a good indicator they actually make everything themselves).  Also, they indicate what is gluten free, and there are a lot of options!  I had a great curry-cauliflower soup that I loved, salmon cakes AND a dessert (because there were several options, I couldn’t pass that up!).  It was fun, the atmosphere was so Portland, my Mom and I had a great conversation and the food was wonderful.  If you are ever in Portland be sure to stop by, you won’t be disappointed.  I know that I will be back the next time I'm in town!

No recipes today, maybe tomorrow, I have a bunch of veggies in my refrigerator just waiting for me to do something with them.  I may need to share a recipe from my sister too, easy crockpot taco soup.  I will put my twist on it, but it will still be from her!

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