In my hunt for gluten-free food, I have come across a few places that don’t even bother trying to be gluten-friendly. Here are the three worst offenders that I’ve encountered.
I visited Applebee’s once or twice before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and wasn’t a huge fan. I found the food salty (this from someone who puts salt on McDonald’s fries) but otherwise tasteless, the portions way too big, and the menu unappealing. However, I recently received a coupon so Mike and I decided to give it a shot.
I arrived at the restaurant first, and asked the hostess if they had a gluten-free menu. I got a blank stare and then a, “No.” I asked if they had an allergen chart. Same blank stare, followed by, “I don’t think so.” I asked if she could check. She did so, clearly annoyed, and returned to say that they didn’t have one. I waited for Mike in the parking lot and we went to Montana’s instead.
I’ve done some research since then. Although Applebee’s is a franchise (meaning that practices can differ between restaurants), their general practice is to tell those with Celiac disease that nothing can be guaranteed gluten-free. This includes steamed vegetables – they are typically covered in a seasoning that contains gluten.
Pizza Delight is a little bit better than Applebee’s when it comes to gluten-friendliness, meaning that they’re terrible instead of appalling. I went there once with friends, figuring that I could have a salad or a grilled meal. They did have an allergen chart (although I couldn’t find one online), which revealed that the only gluten-free item on the menu was a garden salad with no dressing. I had wine instead of a meal.
Before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, Pizza Hut was my favourite hangover food. I can’t properly rate their gluten-friendliness since I haven’t been back since then. However, their allergen chart shows that your gluten-free choices are limited to a Greek salad with no dressing, or traditional wings with hot or medium buffalo sauce, or garlic Parmesan sauce. (I highly doubt that the wings aren’t breaded and/or deep fried in contaminated oil, but this information is from their online allergen chart.) Many of their sauces and toppings are gluten-free, but there’s nothing to put it on!
What I find most disturbing is that items with gluten are not marked as such; instead it says, “Contains ingredients that may contain sensitivity.” (I think if I ate a slice of their deep-dish pepperoni pizza I’d have a reaction beyond “sensitivity!”) It seems clear that they don’t have a clue what a gluten allergy or intolerance really is.
Am I ever glad that Boston Pizza has gluten-free pizza and is allergy aware!