Since I have been advocating dining out with food-allergic kids, I just had to post about our great dining out experience in Chicago this weekend.
The family and I visited Athena restaurant in the heart of Chicago's awesome Greektown. My husband is Greek-American and loves the place. I enjoy Greek food also, but sometimes worry about taking my daughter to eat Greek cuisine. This type of cuisine can be very safe--but it also is a culture and cuisine that loves almonds, walnuts, etc. Generally, we order grilled items for our daughter (chicken skewers, that sort of thing) and we find that works very well.
We enjoyed a wonderful courtyard table near a relaxing waterfall and a lovely view of Chicago's skyline. The weather was perfect (and if you live anywhere near Chicago, you know that's no mean feat ) which added to the whole experience.
But the best part of course was our waiter's knowledge of nut allergies and the great attention and service we received. We brought up our concerns right away, and he gave us recommendations for food (the grill!--good to know we were on the same page) and assured us that this particular restaurant has taken their "almond garnishes" off their seafood entrees due to the increase in nut allergies. (The menu does not reflect this new policy--so always ask, people! You just never know.)
We ordered our daughter chicken souvlaki (skewers) and she shared our cucumber-yogurt dip and yummy village salad. It was a joy to dine out with the family and also reassuring to see that it can be done and should be done, even with food allergies.
Every time we have a postive restaurant experience with our daughter, it teaches her how to cope with her allergies and boosts her confidence.
Ethnic dining can be as easy as our experience or much, much trickier to due language barriers and cultural differences, so please make sure you are certain that your needs are understood and addressed. If we had any concerns we would have gotten the chef involved and I urge you to do the same.
Also, when you get nice service from an understanding waitperson, I suggest reflecting that in the tip and also with verbal thanks. I know we all appreciate it when our kids eat out without incident and it's nice to show it.
What are some of your tips? I'd love to hear about your dining experiences--both good and bad. Until then, be cautious but have fun!