Allergy Alert! I Am Allergic to Flavor!

After work today, the kids and I met my husband at a local restaurant, a pub that was given high marks for both their beer selection (for my husband) and their food (for me). I’d already reconciled myself to not sampling anything from their substantial single-malt scotch or bourbon offerings because my husband was going to be working through their beer menu and one of us needed to drive home, but I figured I’d make up for it with a tasty meal.

Regulars to this blog know that I don’t do so well with gluten or dairy. But I really don’t like mentioning it when I go out to eat in a restaurant. I usually try to cobble something together based on the information provided on the menu and hope for the best.

But my husband has begun showing his chivalry by letting the waitstaff know about my food issues. Tonight I let him, and it seemed like a good idea when I learned that my first-choice entree had a gravy on it that the menu hadn’t mentioned. (Flour-thickened gravy is a hidden source of gluten.) With the server’s help, I chose something that appeared both safe and tasty.

I’ve had some very good seafood dishes, most often topped with an alluring fruit-based salsa and grilled to impart a little more flavor.

But not this seafood dish.

It was a large slab of haddock that looked like it had been steamed. There was no seasoning at all, no sauce, no oil, no salt. On the side was a serving of unseasoned broccoli so under-steamed it crunched as though it were raw.

I couldn’t eat it.

“Do you want to send it back?” my husband asked.

No, I didn’t want to send it back. I never send anything back at restaurants. I think it’s rude. And plus, if it’s bad enough to send back, I certainly don’t want anything else from that kitchen to replace it. In which case, what’s the point in sending it back? Besides, my husband will eat anything, so it never goes to waste.

The kids’ food was, as both they and my husband reported, quite good and better than average for kids menu offerings. We wondered what on earth had happened to make my entree so blah.

When the check came, all became clear. I had been flagged as an “ALLERGY ALERT! GLUTEN, DAIRY ALLERGY!” This apparently was code to the kitchen for, “Make this dish as boring as possible. Then if we’ve messed up and used something she’s allergic to, she’ll not want to eat more than a couple of bites anyway.”

At $15, I could have made a meal for my whole family, plus dessert (which I never get to eat when we go out).

My water was good, and I got to yoink a couple of the kids’ french fries. My husband has a tummy full of bland fish and really tasty beer, and he’s already planning his next visit. The kids can’t wait to go back, either. Well, maybe I can drop the three of them off there and then eat a dinner I’ve brought from home alone in the car. Sounds pitiful, but just a meal without a child draped across me would be a treat.

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