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2012-12-12 20.02.50

P.F. Chang’s GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Have you realized yet that not every Gluten Free Menu at a restaurant is created equal? Well, they aren’t.  Last night I ate at Iron Starr Urban Barbeque and their GF menu had four items, four sides, no dessert and one appetizers on it.  I was there for an event, and they had three choices planned for us, none of them GF. When they asked if we were ready for bread pudding for dessert, I asked about GF alternatives. They returned and told me they had none. That means they didn’t even have ice cream. So I had to sit there and watch all my cohorts eat decadent bread pudding with chocolate and I had NOTHING. Fail! Iron Strarr’s  GF menu appeared to be their attempt at, “let’s see, what do we already have that we can list on a GF menu?

Contrast that with several weeks ago when I was in Arlington, VA, I ate at Legal Seafoods. Legal Seafoods has a serious GF menu. They brought me bread, they had fried appetizers, etc. They had worked on their menu. For example, I asked for Fried Calamari and it took about 10-15 minutes. Then they apologized for it taking so long, explaining that they had to get me fresh oil and heat it, all the while wearing gloves. I was in serious restaurant love after this experience. Too bad they aren’t in Oklahoma. They even had an amazing dessert. They are my new standard for GF.

Both of these are better than the restaurants where you go and have to educate the people on gluten. However, I feel that with gluten sensitivity on the rise, that places like Iron Starr do themselves a disservice. The day after I ate at Legal Seafoods, I was having a chai at Starbucks (who definitely needs to consider having a GF pastry)   and I met a man who was gluten intolerant. I told him how wonderful the Legal Seafoods menu had been and he said he was going to eat there.

P.F. Chang's Fried Rice

P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice

At lunch the next day I walked a block or so from the hotel and found King Street Blues, a restaurant in Crystal City, VA. They gad a GF menu and even mention the fact that they have a GF menu on their web site. I even got to eat baked beans. Amazing.

I was sorely disappointed last night. But it’s not that I live in an uncivilized city. Cheevers, a local restaurant, had a GF menu. It’s not as awesome as Legal Seafood (but what is?) but it’s solid. They have given their GF menu thought, and tried to create dishes for those that are GF in their midst. P.F. Chang’s has a GF menu, and true, all the items on the GF menu are on the regular menu. But still, it is a decent attempt.

Note: After I wrote this I was invited to a luncheon at Jamil’s Steakhouse. I called to see if they have a GF menu. Nope, they don’t. I asked what they had that was GF. They didn’t know of anything that was GF except the salads. That was beyond insulting. Scratch that one off your list of contenders.