Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dear Anonymous,

Recently I received a question on my blog about Chicago. This woman has a daughter starting graduate school in Philadelphia, and wanted to know about restaurants in which I've had good allergy-free experiences, as her daughter suffers from tree nut and peanut allergies.

I am publishing this list, however I feel that it is important to state that as all allergy and allergy-sufferers are different, this list can only be used as a guide. Every allergic person needs to contact the restaurant and let them know about their individual allergies. These were the places that were not only receptive to the conversation, but were places in which I enjoyed a good meal...

For casual dining:

Buca di Beppo


For nicer dining:


Prime Rib

Capital Grille

McCormick & Schmick's

Legal Seafoods


Places I avoid and/or have had bad experiences:

Continental (despite the Steven Starr assurance, I had a bad experience there)

Cheesesteak Places (risk of cross-contamination is too much for me to attempt). I do realize what a bad Philadelphian this makes me. They are delicious and fantastic and not for me!

POD and Moshulu are next on my list of places to try...

I hope that this helps. I enclosed links to the menus of the places that are a little harder to find. I wish your daughter and your family the best of luck! Encourage her to carry an allergy card or wear a med-alert bracelet just to be extra safe!


The Allergic Diner

Monday, July 21, 2008

A hidden gem in Robbinsville, NJ

As seafood lovers, NAH and I often search high and wide for a place that serves excellent seafood, but isn't too fancy. I've written before about Red Lobster, and the good service I always have there, and Joe's Crab Shack, and the great meals I've had there. The tricky part is finding a place that is a little less pricey, and a little less fancy, a place that we could go to often and not worry about the budget. When we were living in South Jersey, Cap'n Cats Clam Bar was our second home. Don't laugh at the name. It was the perfect seafood place. There were plastic fish on the wall, oyster crackers on the table, a plastic menu, and specials for which we would have gladly jumped through hoops. For me, fish has always been a pill-free meal. For those of you who are severely allergic, or lactose intolerant, you understand exactly how incredible that statement is. I could leave the lactaid, benadryl and epi-pen at home, and eat there time and again with no problems. Give me a piece of fish, a baked potato, and some applesauce and I am in heaven. It's up there with stuffing, seriously. Then we moved, and I had a harder time leaving our restaurant behind than our first apartment!

A coworker of NAH recommended a fish market/restaurant several months ago, and we'd been interested in trying it. Unfortunately (as you can usually infer by the lack of posting on this blog), work, schedules, and just good old life got in the way. We hadn't been out to dinner in months, and the other day NAH suggested we go out to dinner (just the two of us! not for a special occasion! YAY!). It was a much needed break. So we decided to drive the half hour and try Shrimp King.

The food was INCREDIBLE (and CHEAP!). You can find their menu here. Everything was delicious, and I think our waitress had a bit of a crush on NAH....he got an extra appetizer! We've now been back twice, and I've had perfect allergy-free meals both times. No seasoning on the plate, and no butter either. They have plastic menus, old tables, and while there are no fish on the wall, there are some great oil paintings that are totally out of the character of the restaurant/market.

I think we have a new place. Worth the drive. What a gem! Thank you, Shrimp King!

Your Allergic Diner

Monday, July 07, 2008

Redstone Delivers!

Well, Redstone American Grill was fantastic. I've finally become one of THOSE bloggers. I had the camera with me for the obligatory family shots for allergic mom's birthday, and I thought, "Why not?"

So a few seconds after we all started eating, I commanded everyone to stop and took a few photographs of mine, NAH's, and allergic mom's plate (they were sitting on either side of me).

I told the waiter that a phone call had been placed about my allergies, and he assured me that they could cook me any kind of fish completely plain. I ordered the catch of the day, the striped bass, and was told that it would come sans oil, seasonings, and dairy, and even requested that the chef hold the parsley (for some reason chefs have this compulsion that food cannot leave the kitchen looking boring). I asked for a baked potato (obviously the sauteed broccolini and tomato and onion marmalade were a no-go) and asked for that plain as well. The waiter, Michael, returned, and was very concerned that the potato had been previously rubbed in salt and that it may have come into contact with oil or butter. I simply requested that it come on a separate plate (as you can see in the first two photos above). My meal was boring, plain, and superb.

Allergic mom, the birthday girl had a cut of prime rib (first photo) with the bacon wrapped asparagus and mashed potatoes. She loved it. NAH had a larger prime rib with the bacon wrapped asparagus, and I quote, "Even that won't trick me into eating asparagus!" He also had what they call the loaded baked potato. I think his meal photographed rather well, don't you. And no, he didn't eat the asparagus.
All in all, it was a delicious meal, and a wonderful birthday celebration. The biggest surprise of the evening? The allergic brother likes calamari! You'd have to have grown up with this kid to understand the leaps and bounds he's made since the years of refusing to eat anything but macaroni & cheese. The family was together. The birthday was lovely. It was one of those nights that we'll always look back on and smile. Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Redstone American Grill. This has possibilities!

Allergic mom has a birthday on Sunday, and she's selected Redstone American Grill in Marlton, NJ for us to meet for the dinner and festivities. Having never been there, I told her we'd be happy to meet her down there, and while we were on the phone I went online to look at their menu. American grills are always promising, allergy-friendly places.

She stopped me mid-google. "Dad already checked on your allergies," she said. "He called the restaurant and told them one person in our party has severe allergies, and get this, the woman's response was 'gluten-free or multiple?' "

Incredible. Apparently allergic dad (who himself has no allergies but is married to allergic mom, so what the heck) responded multiple, specifically oil and seasonings, and that I would need something made plain. He was told not a problem. I'm loving this already for two reasons. One, I didn't have to do the legwork myself (thanks, Dad!). Two, I already feel like I'll be well taken care of and I haven't stepped a foot into their establishment.

Please expect a review of Redstone American Grill on Monday, and have a VERY Happy 4th of July (and a SAFE one)!
~Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ah, Chicago, How I Love Thee....

Well, I am back from Chicago, safe and sound. Outside of a few airfare snafus, the trip went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, we gabbed for far longer than we thought and never made it to the aforementioned restaurants. Some views from the ferris wheel at the Taste of Chicago for you to enjoy above. What's wonderful about the booths at the taste of Chicago is that they offer their signature dish in a "taste of" portion. It costs fewer tickets, is a smaller size, and it allows you to sample some of Chicago's best restaurants to determine where you might want to eat later. We had previously had a fantastic lunch at Foodlife, the gourmet food court in the Water Tower Place, before heading over to the festival, but that didn't stop us from sampling the goodies!
Mazzone's water ice booth is HIGHLY recommended, should you make it out there. Delicious water ice in several flavors. The Chicago Chocolate Company had incredible fruit kabobs (covered in chocolate, natch) and chocolate-covered strawberries. Dominick's, the produce stand, was offering a "taste portion" of watermelon that was bigger than our hands! Also impressive was the line at the fruit stand. It's always good to see people making healthy choices.
I can wholeheartedly recommend Grand Lux Cafe, as I recommended in last year's post, though we didn't eat there on this visit. Sunday morning (this visit) we did visit Chicago Bagel & Bialy II. The bagels were delicious!
It was a wonderful visit with old friends, and is fast becoming an annual event. Thanks ladies!
Yours in allergy-free travels & eating,
Allergic Diner