Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Red Robin

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Serrano and I were shopping at the Irvine Spectrum and decided to go to Red Robin for lunch. After we sat down, I started eyeing the buffalo wings on the menu, so I asked my server Candis if they were prepared with flour. Immediately she asked, "Are you allergic to wheat?" and when I said yes, she said, "Hold on, I have a menu just for you."

Unbeknownst to me, Red Robin has a gluten free menu. A couple minutes later, the manager came up to the table with the latest printed version of their gluten free menu and handed it to me, telling me that I could keep it. I was impressed.

A little over a year ago, I actually visited Red Robin for the first time in my life. Two Australian friends of mine and I did a quick road trip to Canada, and on our way out of Seattle we decided to stop there for lunch. One of my friends was craving a milkshake (something we Americans apparently excel at making) and we all agreed it was a good idea. My other friend is very health conscious and particular about what she eats, but she was happy to get a Salmon Burger with a salad. I was very surprised that they stated on the menu that a low carb way to enjoy your burger was to have it wrapped in lettuce, since I rarely see that anywhere. Since I love burgers, especially creative ones, Red Robin quickly grew on me.

The gluten free menu available is very helpful in figuring out what to get, since it explains what additions to subtract from your dish, along with which salad dressings are safe to eat. On the menu it states that if the fries are made without any type of seasoning, they are mostly safe, although they are fried in fryers shared with glutenous foods. I ordered fries with my gf burger, figuring I might have one or two and give the rest to Serrano. When I told my server Candis I wanted them, she immediately said, "Ok, fries with no seasoning." Perhaps I have simply had too many servers that seem to forget that you have a gluten intolerance about a minute after you tell them, but I was very happy to have a server who was friendly, didn't make me feel bad at all for having complicated orders, and knew the menu better than I did, even though it was right in front of me.

Sadly, there are no available appetizers, soups, sandwiches, wraps, or desserts available that are gluten or dairy free, but there is a kid's menu. And honestly, I think that there is enough to eat on the menu that going without an appetizer or dessert isn't a big inconvenience, not to mention it's healthier and cheaper.

Red Robin's Allergen Menu is available online, and I suggest to take a look and try it out. I am very pleased that restaurants such as Red Robin have gluten free menus, since they cover a fair amount of the country and aren't expensive. It's a good standby when you're in a strange town, want a good burger, or don't want to deal with the possible hassle of eating out. Because let's face it, eating out when you have food allergies can be frustrating and take more effort than you have the time or patience for.

Keep in mind as well that the Allergen Menu is changed and updated every few months, and not every store has the same dishes available. But the link above helps you search for a restaurant near you to take a look at the menu, and you can also send in your questions regarding food preparation and content. If you go, enjoy!


Austin said...

Interesting... I would've never guessed that Red Robin had a special menu. (Actually, I had no idea that Red Robin was in Southern CA, but that's another story.) Maybe over time, Red Robin will expand the menu to include gf appetizers, etc.

Spice Lovely said...

I certainly hope so. I think that the move toward more gluten free food will push Red Robin and other restaurants to have more dishes like desserts and appetizers that are gf.