The other day we were in the Nashville area running errands, and we decided to stop for lunch at Ruby Tuesday. I had found that they have an allergen menu online. I thought this was great since most restaurants do not have this feature. I was able to look over my options ahead of time, thus saving time and aggravation.
The online options allow you to select what allergens or intolerances you need to avoid and then you are given options based on the selections. They were actually quite a few selections in each category such as chicken, seafood, salads, etc. Based on the choices I decided on grilled salmon with a side of a baked potato.
The errands that we had to run lead us to have lunch around 11 AM. This turned out to be a perfect time as they had just opened. Once we sat down I asked if there was an actual allergen menu available. I was told that it was only available online. I wondered how the staff would know about food choices available to those with allergens if they did not have an actual allergen menu to refer to. I also was concerned that those avoiding those allergens would not be able to order safe options if they did not check out the allergen options on the restaurant website.
After we were seated we received regular menus. I noticed that they offered gluten-free hamburger rolls. I was not originally going to get a burger, but after seeing that I could get a gluten-free hamburger roll, I got so excited that it clouded my judgment. Instead of following the allergen menu I ordered the burger. That would turn out to be a mistake.
I ordered a burger with the gluten free roll emphasizing that it be gluten-free to the waiter, which he wrote down. I did not order fries as I had noticed that they were not safe due to cross contamination.
The burger arrived on a toasted bun. This should have been a red flag but I ignored it. I ate the bottom half of the bun along with part of the top half. The burger was actually very good.
We finished up our lunch just as it began to get crowded. We left and proceeded to finish our errands and visit a local antique shop. Within about half an hour of finishing lunch I got that familiar glutened feeling. I began to feel sick and luckily there was a bathroom in the antique shop.
We all make mistakes and eat things that we shouldn’t. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. When we find that a restaurant has something that is actually gluten-free sometimes we forget where we are.
There are some things you can do to prevent this happening to you:
- Go to the website of the restaurant you will be going to see if they have an allergen menu
- If you don’t find an allergen menu on their website try googling the restaurant name plus allergen menu
- Another option is to contact the restaurant directly and ask them to email the allergen menu to you
- Look for reviews on Tripadvisor and Yelp to see if the restaurant caters to those with allergens and how well they accommodate those that have allergens
- Ask the waiter to check ingredients with the kitchen- “I’m not sure” is not a good answer
- Always make sure you do your homework, and no matter how excited you become over something on the regular menu DO NOT order anything from the regular menu unless you are absolutely sure it is safe
It is imperative that you do your research ahead of time. Do not go in blind or uninformed. Learn a lesson from me! Don’t get so excited about a gluten-free item on the regular menu that you forget the consequences.
I hope that you all have many safe and delicious meals whenever you dine out!