The Art or science of eating out???

I like eating out!! I do not try too many new things but I do enjoy going out and eating the things I know I love. Of course like everyone else after a baby this has reduced. More due to the sheer task of packing everything and going through the ordeal. Once Avy was bigger we wanted to, but his allergies proved it kind of hard. Since I was not eating, Milk, Soy, Egg and peanut, the question kind of boiled down to what can we ever eat?

After a lot of research I have gotten it down to a Science. The basic premise is to do your research BEFORE you go out to eat..ALWAYS!. Asking the waiters at the restaurants many times will get you blank stares or ‘I do not think it does, but I am not sure”…well those responses do not help much. The information is out there, almost all these restaurants have it on their website by menu items.

I have tried to give a gist of the popular restaurants we go to and list some menu items which can be safely consumed by those with allergies. Hoping this will help someone out there!

Olive garden (many Italian places also): I love this place. Thought it does not offer many variations for a vegetarian person, I love their salad and bread sticks. The first experience there in taking Avyu was very positive. We did go there last month, with in-laws and all and it was such a nice experience. The bread sticks by themselves do not have milk in them, in fact Italian bread in general does not. They do apply butted on top when they bake them which is the culprit. So I always request a few bread sticks with no butter on them and they almost always oblige. Avy loves nibbling on this. The salad of course is milk free, and point to note here is Italian dressing once again is milk , egg, and soy free. For the main course, I always go for a mariana based dish, like the capellinie pomodoro, but I do it with penne. I share this with the little one too. Olive Garden does NOT have the ingredient listing on their website, however I did find the people at the places very helpful. The last time I was there Avy was trying to keep a 7 month old in the next table occupied by playing peek-a-boo. Was so heartening to see this ‘kid’ entertaining another 🙂

Subway: This is one of my frequent lunch joints. Well till the recent past I would always have their whole wheat bread which is gluten free, however recent news of them containing high fructose corn syrup is very disheartening.  Anyways, Subway does have detailed information online on which of their bread and condiments have the common allergens etc. Here is a link to their info: http://www.subway.com/subwayroot/MenuNutrition/Nutrition/pdf/AllergenChart.pdf

Mexican: I love Mexican food. Especially the chips and salsa. I tell you, this would be my biggest downfall. I just cannot stop eating those damn chips! Anyways, I have tried a few Mexican restaurants and they seemed to helps me with my demands. Once you get over the feeling of being a pain, it is all worth it. I normally have a quesadilla with no cheese, grilled veggies, beans etc, or Burritos or tacos with no cheese. I have not found the ingredient listing on many websites but they usually have some information on site in the restaurant.

Panera: Once again a nice place to have some breakfast or lunch. Their website is really good. They give you all the detailed ingredient listing (the stores also have a big book with all this information that you can look up when you are there). Go to this link: http://www.paneranutrition.com/. You can pick what you want to eat and it would give you all the information. The Black bean soup is the only one with no milk, egg or soy as far as I know. The everything bagel is allergen free, and a good option for breakfast. You can get variety of salads, and couple of the sandwiches.

Starbucks: Well Well, you can get anything Black and it would be fine. But if you are like me and cannot tolerate black coffee or tea then your option is to carry a box of rice milk wherever you go. The one thing I did not like is, they refuse to warm up your drink after you have mixed it. Not sure why and that is a pain. If you do not need caffeine they do have some bottled juices, fruit salad types things.

Ben and Jerry’s: They do have quite a few sorbet and smoothies that are devoid of milk and is wonderful to have. Avy loves loves it, he gets all pink lipped and giggly after having some!!

Red Robin Burgers: Well if you can have soy, then they do have a Boca patty that you can do. But if you staying off soy too then hard luck, all they have is a pasta dish which is very OKAY!! BUT, I mention that place here because they have AWESOME fries which Avy LOVES!! They also were so considerate, they brought the manager out to talk with us and work with us and Avy enjoyed fries and a plate of fresh oranges that day!

Indian restaurants Honestly my biggest problem sometimes is with Indian restaurants. because they may in the least expected place add a spoon of ghee! I try to ask a million times. Usually the fried stuff like pakoras are okay. I always get Roti and mention that it should be without any ghee. Bhindi masala is the best option. However, we did got to an Indian restaurant over July 4th weekend that actually had VEGAN dhal on the menu! I was mighty impressed!

So as you can see, eating out is not  an easy task in this household. We plan, plan and plan. I think now I pretty much know what questions to ask, who to ask and what to expect. If you feel your server is not able to answer your questions, ask for a manager. But remember, BE NICE! They will be that much nicer to you. It also works better if I say I have the allergy than show my tiny tot, they tend to take it more seriously when I say I have it :):). It does scare them a bit. Avy always does well eating out, he is patient for the most part, I hope to go out more and more as he grows and teach him to say what he needs to say to get what he wants!!

Here is a pic of Avy at Olive Garden trying to entertain the baby in the other table…

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1 Comment

  1. telugumom said,

    July 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    We love Olive garden too!

    This is not related to eating out, but, if you have Trader Joe’s near you, you can get Vegetable Masala burgers with Indian spices (vegetarian burger patties). As far as I know they do not have any milk products in them but, I am not sure about soy. A friend of mine gives these to her daughter who has dairy allergies. Sarath loves them too. They are very tasty.


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