Russian Roulette-or the restaurant allergen menu game



Below is a listing of some of the major chain’s restaurant allergen menus with my personal views.  My biggest problem is the limited choices that people with allergies are faced with.  There could be so much more of an effort on the part of restaurant owners.  Unfortunately I cannot list them all here.  If you would like a more comprehensive listing of major chains, click here

You can google all of the chains allergen menus:

Name of restaurant+allergen menu

Some are easier to find than others.  Some don’t exist at all.  If the restaurant does not have an allergen menu, order plain chicken or steak with plain steamed vegetables.

There is also usually a disclaimer on each menu which goes something like this:

With the guidance of registered dietitians, we have prepared this menu based on the most current information available from our suppliers and their stated absence of gluten within these items. Please be aware that because our dishes are prepared-to-order, during normal kitchen operations, individual foods may come into contact with one another due to shared cooking and preparation areas. Thus we cannot guarantee that cross-contact with foods containing gluten will not occur. We encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices and your individual dietary needs when dining with us. When placing your order, please let your server know that you are ordering a gluten-free menu item.”

Why not just play Russian roulette?  Or are they just trying to avoid a lawsuit?

Red Lobster

Red Lobster uses soy on everything.  Since soy sauce contains wheat, and everything with soy on the menu has wheat in it,  my guess is it is soy sauce.  The menu is very limited if you have both wheat/gluten and dairy allergies.  I usually order steamed whole lobster, plain, with steamed broccoli, plain.  The string beans have gluten-again soy, I suspect.   Watch out for dairy in salad dressing.  Alas, I had to give up caesar salad, and the cheddar bay biscuits; my favorite things.

I find this menu confusing.  I would like to see each dish listed with it’s specific allergens.  Trying to track my eyes across rows of allergens is asking for trouble.

The wait staff and kitchen  seem knowledgable.  I have not been glutened as of yet.

TGI Fridays

I like the setup of this menu-it is very easy to read.  However, I do not see anything anyone with gluten and dairy allergies could possibly eat.

You could order plain steak or chicken.


This would not be very good if you have dairy allergies.  Only three choices, one of which has cheese.  Can’t we do better than that?

Bonefish grill 

Much more of a selection here, but watch out for dairy-milk and butter.  Simple and easy to understand menu.

Cheesecake factory

Thanks to the gluten free menu site for posting. I would avoid this altogether-especially if you can’t eat dairy.  Comments that have been made state that dedicated fryers are not used and the gluten free crust has wheat husk. Plus cheesecake….sigh….. Enter at your own risk.

Cracker Barrel

Thanks to Stockpiling moms website for posting.  There is a good selection here.  In fact, on our recent trip to Tennessee, Cracker Barrel was a Godsend.  Their grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing was out of this world.  The only thing that makes it difficult is that you have to flip pages to view different allergens.  This makes it easy to miss important information.  I would like to see a menu like TGI Fridays, where allergens are listed under each food item.

I have to give special kudos to Cheddars.

I have only scratched the surface here.  There are some improvements I would like to see.

  • If you are stating you are allergen free, be allergen free.  Do not use the same oil, cooking water or cutting boards and utensils that you use on allergen containing products.  It’s just dumb.
  • Make your menu easier to read to compare allergens.  I shouldn’t need a course in physics just to figure out what has wheat, milk, eggs or shellfish
  • Do not roll your eyes when I ask you what is in something.  If you don’t know, find out.
  • Train your kitchen and wait staff properly.  Know your ingredients!
  • Please give us more choices!  We are tired of chicken, steak and salmon.  And stop putting gluten where it doesn’t belong in the first place!

I would love to hear your comments, suggestions and questions.



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