Eating Out Gluten Free – Top Tips
When I stopped eating wheat and gluten around 5 years ago, I remember going to some restaurants where the wait staff hardly knew what gluten intolerance was. It wasn’t taken seriously unless you had celiac disease, (which was still unheard of by most people) and hardly anywhere had the ‘gf’ letters on their menu.
Nowadays, times have changed and it’s a lot easier to eat out safely and not having to worry about feeling awkward when ordering or feeling ill the next day.
Since December 13th 2014, all venues where you can purchase food to order, have to have a record of the top 14 allergens that may be included in each dish for customers at all times making it a lot clearer and giving everyone a peace of mind when not cooking at home.
However, there are some key things to keep in mind when choosing a place to eat, and hopefully this will help you feel less awkward, more welcome, happy and healthy eating gluten free.
Do your research.
Have a look at potential restaurants online, do they have a menu available to read? Is it up to date? Are the gluten free dishes labelled, or are the letters ‘gf’ not anywhere to be seen? If there isn’t a menu, give the restaurant a call and see what they have to choose from that is gluten free.
As they will now have a record of which dishes are containing gluten, the staff should be knowledgeable and helpful when informing you what you will be able to eat.
If they aren’t, then give the place a miss, there are plenty of restaurants that will be go out of their way to help you, you just need to know where to go.
To save you time researching, I have been helping Restaurants Brighton find the best places to eat gluten free food in Brighton and you will find my reviews for these here.
Make a reservation.
If you need to call the restaurant regarding their gluten free offerings and you are satisfied with their response, make a reservation and mention that you have to eat gluten free. If you are celiac, mention this as well.
They should treat intolerances, allergies and celiac disease the same, but as celiac disease generally has more life threatening consequences this is most important to mention.
Now they have your reservation with a note that at least one of the party needs to eat gluten free, the chef will be made aware, as well as the wait staff so they can ensure they have any gluten free options available for your visit and it will make ordering time less awkward too.
When making an online reservation via Restaurants Brighton, you can add comments to your booking too, so make sure you make use of this facility. This is a link to the book online page.
When you arrive, if the menu isn’t labelled with ‘gf’ next to the gluten free friendly dishes, ask the wait staff (if they haven’t told you already) which dishes you can have, don’t assume.
I saw a post on twitter the other day from someone with celiac disease at an airport lounge who almost assumed that they would be able to eat the butter chicken that was on the buffet as this usually does not include any sort of flour in a recipe.
However, she enquired and turns out the chef had used a packet sauce which contained wheat flour so it wasn’t gluten free. For economical reasons, some places don’t cook their dishes from scratch, or they use flour to thicken sauces, bind dishes or coat meats, so it is best to always ask to be safe!
Now that the allergen laws are in place, the wait staff will easily have access to the ingredients in each dish and it might make the places that don’t have many dishes that are free from at least one allergen to rethink their offerings.
Be patient and polite.
For some people this may go without saying, but in my 12 years experience of working in the hospitality industry, there are some people with special dietary requirements that can be very rude, demanding and will unnecessarily treat the wait staff unkindly.
If you have already done your research then there should be no reason to come across rude or demanding unless the restaurant had been that way to yourself.
Compliment and spread the word.
As there are now more and more people that are following gluten free diets, restaurants are constantly creating new dishes that are gluten free friendly, and often appreciate your feedback and compliments.
It would be unlikely that the chefs would have to follow a gluten free diet themselves, so for something that is a gluten free version of a dish that usually would contain gluten, let the restaurant know that it was good (if it was) as they would love to hear it!
If you do find somewhere serving something new and exciting, or they have a really good range of dishes that are gluten free, tell all your friends, share it on social media, as this encourages other restaurants and supports the places that are really making an effort!