|Apr 09 2009|
It's really exciting to find a restaurant I can safely eat at. But trying new restaurants is very risky, as all of you Celiacs know. I had heard and read that Buca di Beppo restaurants are veryconscious of allergies, and that they can actually make some of their Italian dishes GF. My boyfriend and I went there a few weeks ago, and I approached with skepticism. I talked to a few employees before even agreeing to stay and eat. They all ensured me that they were a very allergy conscious facility, and that they knew plenty about my condition, and knew how to make my food GF. I liked how they seemed to display some sort of knowledge on Celiac, so we stayed. I asked the server which dish she recommended. She pointed out a pesto salmon dish. She said it could be made GF. I agreed to try it, and Steve ordered a pizza. The food arrived, and she had put the sauce on the side. The pesto sauce, which was very thick and creamy, looked delicious, but also made me nervous. I asked her again about the sauce, and she reassured me I was safe. Something in the back of my mind said the sauce was not GF, but I decided to believe them, and ate it. Oh GOD, big mistake!!! Less than an hour later, I blew up like a huge balloon, and my intestines were on fire. We had already left the restaurant by then, so I couldn't stay anything to them about it. We were planning on seeing a movie that night after dinner, but those plans were quickly abandoned. I went straight home, and was sick and miserable for over 24 hours. Within the next two days, I emailed Buca's corporate office and explained what happened. A few or so later, I received a phone call from the GM of this location. He was very apologetic, and said there was absolutely no reason for this mistake. He identified the problem, and said the sauce was indeed a pesto alfredo sauce, made with wheat. Great. He said he was disgusted that such a huge mistake was made, and that he was embarrassed about it, especially after I trusted them to make my meal GF. He sent me a $50 gift card in the mail, and begged me to come back so I could try something else, and talk to him in person. If I do go back, I'm just gonna have to stick to a boring salad. I don't wanna risk that again.
A few nights ago, a couple friends and I went to Duke's, the Hawaiian restaurant we love. I've been there plenty of times. The first time (which was Thanksgiving night, see my T-giving post for the wonderful details), we went, I did get sick...but I take the blame for that, because I ordered mashed potatoes, and didn't ask what was in them. I was with a bunch of people, and didn't want to make a scene with the server who was really busy, so I just assumed the mashed potatoes were okay...they definitely were NOT. The mashed potatoes were thickened with flour, needless to say I was in severe pain that night. Since that night, every time we go to Duke's, I've ordered the same thing (a caesar salad -the dressing IS GF, I checked- a sirloin steak, and a plain baked potato with butter). I've had this dish a million times and NEVER have gotten sick from it. Well, I went out with these friends, who were in town from Chicago. I ordered my meal, as usual. It came out looking the way it always does, nothing unusual. Everthing tasted great. By the end of dinner, I was in absolute misery walking home with my friends. I was ready to explode, and I still had to take the city bus back to my apartment! I felt so guilty bailing on my friends, and rushing out of there like I did, but I was also trying to pretend that nothing was wrong. I had just gotten through explaining to them at dinner that this was my "safety meal," something I knew I could order safely without getting sick. I would've been so embarrassed to tell them just how sick I was after. The ride home on the bus was excruciating, and when I did get home, I was in hell for the rest of the night.
For about 12 hours, I had those "typical" Celiac symptoms...the bloating, churning in the gut, pain, diarrhea...oh, I know it all too well. But then two days later, I was still not well...but I had some new -and very scary- symptoms. I was at work that morning, and I was having difficulty breathing. I couldn't catch my breath, and I had sharp pains arcing through my chest. My heart beat was erratic, and would speed up really fast for no reason. I felt like I was on the verge of a heart attack. The managers saw my condition, and let me go from work. They tried to encourage me to go to the ER, but I just went home. A few hours later, after the symtpoms susided, after everything passed through my system.
Ugh, it is so unbelievably frustrating when you trust a place to make your food right -especially if you've been there before!- and they mess it up. Looking back, I have absolutely NO idea what made me sick at Duke's. My meal looked perfect, it looked GF, just as it always has been in the past. I don't know what went wrong, but my guess is cross-contamination. If this is true, that pisses me off, because I specifically told the server how important it was that they be careful with my food. Some of my friends tell me over and over, "Sue them, sue them, you've got a perfect case!" But if I start down that route, I'd be suing every other restaurant I eat at! I don't have the time or energy to persue any of these cases. But my confidence level in restaurants around here has definetely lowered. I don't even want to think about what kind of damage I must have inflicted on my intestines in the last few weeks. It's been a rough month...
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