Last night I had a little celebration to go to for my trainer and friend Maleia Tumulo of Urban Fitness who is off to compete in the Xterra Nationals in Utah!! I knew it would be a fairly large group of people at dinner, so I called the restaurant (k38 Baja Grill) ahead of time to discuss my needs. When I got to the restaurant, I comfortably ordered the grilled veggie fajitas with corn tortillas and began to nibble on some chips and salsa. Actually, quite a few chips and salsa. It had taken the restaurant 45 minutes to seat us even though the girl organizing the dinner had called ahead to give them a head count! After I'd eaten two fajitas I started to dig in to the vegetables sans accoutrements when I suddenly had an alarming bite of food. I tasted....SOY SAUCE. I said it out loud and several of the girls at my table dug into their veggies and exclaimed, "Soy sauce? At a Mexican restaurant?". My lovely dinner and mood were instantly killed and replaced with the dread of wondering how badly this mistake was going to make me feel this week. Stomach ache? Sinus Pain? Breakouts? Brain fog? Huge puffy eyes? When I asked my waitress if there was soy sauce in the vegetables she said yes and that she was sorry. "I guess you don't want a box for those then?" she asked. Uh, no. I sat there shocked and stressed for a moment when my friend asked why I was being so nice about it and insisted I ask for the manager, especially since I had called ahead. (So much for calling ahead in order to NOT make a scene and be a pain in the butt.)
Although the manager did his best to rectify the situation, (he seemed to be the only one seriously knowledgeable about the menu) the damage was already done. He offered to take care of my meal and send me home with another order of veggie fajitas sans gluten and disappeared into the kitchen....BUT NOT BEFORE TELLING ME THAT THE CHIPS WERE NOT GLUTEN FREE EITHER!! (Seriously? I practically ate half a basket! Did that employee I'd talked to before dinner not know anything?!) Apparently they are made with both corn and WHEAT flour. I think my husband put it best when he said, " Who makes wheat corn chips?"
The manager returned with my takeout, continued to reiterate how sorry he was, and told me next time (I can't even eat the chips and salsa, why would there be a next time?) to ask for him immediately in order to avoid confusion. He seemed genuine, but everyone at the table was upset that he seemed to be making it out to be my fault.
Lesson learned? I broke a cardinal rule in allergy friendly dining in order to not stand out at my table of friends (who were not only understanding but supportive AND insisted I say something). Even though I had called ahead I should've checked again. Always check, double check and check again with the waitress, chef, manager, (whoever) and make sure they understand and know what they are talking about. If you are still uncomfortable, leave (or if you're with your friends for a special occasion, order a cocktail and eat later....just don't drink too much on an empty stomach ;)
Until next time my gluten free friends.....
Eat, Drink and Be Gluten Free