Trends irritate me. Mainly because I never feel like I am ON-trend. Somehow, I am always several steps behind. I missed when hats became cool in the early ninety’s only to wear one white crochet piece of shit to death a year after Jennifer Aniston dismissed it along with Brad Pitt.
Gluten Free is the big trend in restaurants right now and I hope it is a trend that continues and doesn't fizzle out like Technicolor t-shirts and the pet rock.
I have discussed (at length) on this blog about the dangers of trusting a ‘Gluten Friendly’ menu from a chain restaurant. The problem with this trend is in the training. Offering gluten free menu options isn't the half of what restaurants need to do if they want to tap into this new marketing goldmine. They have to train from the head to the tail of the restaurant.
I fear that so many restaurants are in such a hurry to catch up to this trend that their training quality is suffering.
People who choose gluten free as a healthy diet choice have less chance of getting sick from cross contamination but our bodies are amazing machines of adaptability. The longer you are away from gluten in your diet, the more sensitive your body will come to it. Most studies are showing that although consuming gluten won’t harm your intestines like it harms mine, it might certainly give you a hell of a tummy ache and make you feel like a big piece of shit for a while.
Restaurants are going to very soon, have to learn to be far more cautious with their cross contamination or else they are going to have A LOT of complaints on their hands and not just from Celiacs. An amazing example of a restaurant that understands good training is The Keg.
The Keg is no trend and as such, it is one of my faves.
The Keg has been around for years and is known for its quality steaks, prime rib and seafood. It’s also been known for its quality of service. The Keg has embraced the idea of ‘if its not broken – don’t fix it’. Frankly, The Keg does most things well and it is a rare and shocking occasion that you hear of someone not enjoying a meal there. Of course, the price point for this kind of quality is always high but at the end of the day, you pay a bit more and get a lot more.
The Keg has followed this standard right into their Gluten Free Menu. The menu itself has plenty of options from salads to the best of the best entrees. The difference sits mainly in the details – of which The Keg dazzles in spades. After ordering, the manager comes to your table and discusses your meal at length. This is a touch that I encourage every single restaurant to incorporate into their gluten free practices.
This extra set of eyes helps me breathe easily and relax during my meal. I know that someone other than my server (who has at least three other tables all with their own individual needs) has their eye on my ball. (Feel free to giggle at that – I did). They also have the manager run the food which again makes a massive difference and avoids me being the caddy bitch who interrogates the poor server with ‘are you sure it’s gluten free’? To which I often get a vacant ‘deer in headlights I just saw Miley Cyrus perform at the VMAs’ look and it sends me into a panic.
*side note - every blogger LAST week talked about Miley Cyrus. I, once again, am behind the trend and talking about her this week*
Once at The Keg, the chef himself ran my food out to me. This of course causes me to act all Princess Stephanie of Monaco and take on a fancy accent to say, ‘Why thank you good man.’
Now, some restaurants might counter my manager suggestion with:
“Oh but you foul mouthed little witch, my manager doesn't have TIME to visit every allergy table!”
To that I answer a resounding, “Bullshit.”
I was a restaurant manager for quite a few years (too many) and I can tell you that visiting tables should be your night leader’s job.
They should not be washing dishes, expediting, bartending or drinking in the walk-in cooler. Wait, I did all those things when I was a night manager! However, it was a rare and magical occasion that involved a dishwasher with the Norwalk virus that would find me in a business suit being protected by a garbage bag spraying dishes. A sad but true story.
If your night manager says they don’t have time to talk to tables because they are too busy, get rid of them. They are lazy bastards.
The Keg manager explained the chain of events that would take place during the preparation of my meal. The grill cook was cleaning their grill as we spoke. New salad bowls were being pulled from dish to toss my salad. (stop it!) The sous chef had been informed as well as the expediter. This is important to note as that means that there are now three sets of TRAINED eyes double checking everything that goes on my plate.
This is a level of service that I am happy to pay for.
In addition, The Keg’s food is off the chain delicious and indulgent. Their prime rib can’t be matched because they have over the years perfected this recipe. I know it might be more trendy to eat your Gluten Free meal at some tiny little downtown exclusive bistro that you have to make a reservation six years in advance and where the server looks at your shoes and handbag before they say hello but I beg of you to head back to that place that you might have forgotten about over the years.
The Keg has managed to stay on-trend with their Gluten Free Menu and maintain their standard of quality that we have all come to expect.
Now - off I go to buy some leg warmers, drink bubble tea and learn what a 'twerk' is all while wearing my Varnet hat and Chip and Peppa shirt.