Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Americana Diner: Never leave unhappy. Or hungry, for that matter...

What a lovely weekend we had, big guy (refer to previous posting) and myself. We had our first house guests! My friend from NYC and her allergic fiance were in for the weekend for what we called the "Jersey Experience." Unfortunately, due to time, weather, and the fact that we hadn't all gotten together in awhile, the Jersey Experience really consisted of taking allergic fiance and friend to one of our favorite diners, the Americana Diner on Rte 130 (recently written up in the Washington Post!).

I've been to this place several times, and in addition to the incredible variety of food (it has a menu that could be considered a book), I'm always pleased with the service and attention to detail. These servers, without fail, answer almost any question with, "I'm not sure, let me go ask the chef." Subsequently, without fail, everything I've ordered there has come to the table allergy-free and uncontaminated.

We had a fantastic meal there, and highly recommend it as a must-eat stop in New Jersey. Big guy had an omelet, allergic fiance a blackened chicken sandwich, friend had a tuna salad sandwich (that came to the table looking like a was enormous!), and for me, an egg salad sandwich, of course. I've had plenty of other things there, but the egg salad is a keeper.

Allergic mom and I are heading out Friday for our annual girls' weekend, so I should have some new and hopefully good reviews for you then.

Until next time,
Your Allergic Diner

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What food! What service!

What a lovely evening we had, the non-allergic in-laws, NAH, and myself. When we got to Outback, we were seated immediately. When the waiter came to take our order, I explained that I had called previously, and was told that they could make anything plain to accommodate my food allergies. I then requested the salmon, plain, the steamed veggies, plain, and a baked potato, you guessed it, also plain. To which he responded, "Not a problem, but I'm required to ask about your allergies so I can oversee this in the kitchen." I jokingly said "all of them," and then realized I was going to have to be more specific, so I asked to him to look out for olive oil, dairy, tomatoes, and every spice/seasoning known to man (I can add my own salt & pepper, and it's much safer that way). To my relief, there was NO pity (though there appeared to be a brief look of astonishment at what I was listing), and I was so heartened by the fact that I already felt safe eating there I ordered a drink, too!
I especially enjoyed when they brought out NAH's prime rib, and our waiter handed it to him and said "here, big guy!" (I almost dissolved into a fit of giggles, and had no drink in me at that point). NAH will most likely be referred to hereafter on this blog as big guy. Too funny.
The big guy had a most excellent prime rib, mom-in-law and I both enjoyed our salmon, and dad-in-law had a wonderful strip steak. I can't neglect to mention that the table started with the requisite Bloomin' Onion. My Wallaby Darned (Australian peach bellini), on the recommendation of my mom-in-law, was fantastic, and I'm happy to report that not a single spice, drop of butter, or any other of the dreaded allergic contaminants touched my salmon plate. It was a fantastic meal had in great company! Thank you Outback, we'll be returning soon!
Also, before I leave you for the day, when I looked at the Outback website I was heartened to see that they offer my gluten-free friends a gluten-free menu! A sign of the times. Check it out here, and enjoy your next meal being well taken care of in an allergy-friendly environment!
Yours in the pursuit of anxiety-free eating,
The Allergic Diner

Monday, April 21, 2008

Let's go Outback tonight....

Tomorrow night NAH and I are taking the non-allergic inlaws to dinner at their favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse. I was just reading their menu, and grew a little concerned at the amount of seasoned items on their menu. Then I read:

When the worries of the day are too much, Australians say it's time to let go and 'Go Outback.' A place to stop, unwind, and share time with family and friends. So kick back, relax, you're Outback. No Worries!

I thought I'd put this to the test. I remembered reading somewhere that Outback, if you told them upfront about your allergies, would be more than accommodating. I decided to test that theory, and was more than upfront, I called 24 hours ahead of time.

The conversation went like this:
Me: I will be eating dinner at your restaurant tomorrow night with my family, and I'm a little concerned about my food allergies and the amount of seasoned items on your menu. Do you know if it's possible to get something without all the seasonings, or if those spices and marinades are placed on the meat ahead of time?

Outback representative: Certainly! You can get anything on our menu without seasoning except for the Tuscan Ribeye, because that marinates for a long time before we grill it. Everything else can be made to order, as we season each food before we cook and serve it.
(Wonderful! But wait...there's more!) Also, as long as you inform your waiter, we'll have our line chefs switch their gloves and we'll clean the spot on the grill right before putting your food on it to make sure there's no cross-contamination (I almost swooned!). If you're concerned about simply telling your waiter, tell the manager when you come in and if you're specific about your allergies, he will oversee the whole process to make sure it's safe.

Me: That sounds wonderful, THANK YOU!

And then I did a little dance...well, not really, but those of you who have food allergies know how good it feels to know you don't have to worry (as much) about the food you're going out to eat.
Check out the Outback menu, and happy ordering! I'll check back Wednesday with a dinner review. I'm off to review the menu to figure out what I'd like to eat, allergy-free.

Allergic Diner

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cookbooks and cookbooks and more cookbooks!

In an earlier post I may have mentioned my love of all things cooking. I especially love cookbooks, and take it as a challenge to try and alter everyday recipes so that they become allergy-friendly. As such, I've started a wonderful cookbook collection, and subscribe to several cooking magazines. I recently found a group for people like me. I'd like to call it a support group, but it's a cookbook book club (like a Doubleday, or a Columbia House).
Check this out!
The Good Cook (and admire my fabulous new hyperlink skills while we're at it. Thanks husband, I love you!)

I have 5 new cookbooks coming in the mail for the low price of $26.00! Oh happy Day!

~Allergic Diner

And for those of you wondering where my top chef recaps have gone, until the show stops being "whiny chef," I am not reviewing. I am watching, and I am enjoying, but I am not going to condone some of the cast members' bad behaviors with a review. They stop whining, I'll start recapping! Should have done the butternut squash soup, though.....