Monday, December 8, 2008

Nut Allergy Friendly National Restaurant Chains Anyone??

I'm hoping you all can help me with this one. As I've blogged about before, I'm a bit cautious about dining out with my daughter, though we do have a few "go to" places we visit with some regularity.

The other day I received an e-mail from an adult who was recently diagnosed with nut allergies. They wondered if there are some good restaurant chains that they could use for the purpose of business lunches. I agree that restaurant chains can be a good choice--you know what you're dealing with menu-wise ahead of time.

When I go out for an adult dining experience these days, I usually don't look at whether or not it's nut-free. So this question really got me thinking.

Of course, I directed this reader to Allergic Girl's awesome blog, but she usually doesn't go to chains.

In my family's nut-free dining out we generally stick to Mediterrean cuisine and American grilled stuff like burgers and unsauced chicken, etc.

I know that many of you out there will have some good thoughts on this, so let me know. Any chains you like? Any you would avoid? I'm all ears.

20 comments:

Jennifer B said...

Jenny, we had good luck at McCormick & Schmick in Philadelphia. I think they are national and it seems an appropriate place for business lunches. The management varies from location to location so as always, your reader should definitely phone first to feel them out.

Outback Steakhouse is good too. They use no peanuts or peanut oil. Not sure if it is the right setting though.

Anonymous said...

I have found that Chili's and Mimi's Cafe both have great "Allergy Menus" where they suggest what you can eat with certain allergies. Also, Chipotle's is egg and nut free, or so their website says, but is probably not the right place for a business lunch. FYI -- Dairy Queen also has a great menu online with a list of what you can eat with certain allergies.

~ Jill said...

California Pizza Kitchen tries pretty hard. Red Robin is also not bad. Both have separate menus and make very good attempts to accommodate individuals with food allergies.

Jenny said...

Thanks to everybody who chimed in on this. I welcome more comments on your restaurant experiences or recommendations any time!--Jenny

Allergy Mom said...

Chili's is also our go to restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Macaroni Grill also has a dedicated allergy menu.

Jenny said...

Thanks to everyone for their helpful suggestions!!

Andigirl said...

I just wanted to share a bit about a few of the recommended places: My sister worked at Chili's, and told me to be careful with cross contamination of anything on their in kitchen salad bar/dessert bar. Lots of nuts flying around there.

Red Robin tries hard, but it took me nearly an hour to go through their allergy binder and still wasn't clear as to why in particular they don't recommend the seasoning for nut allergics. It appears to only contain soy. I don't feel comfortable taking my peanut/treenut allergic son there.

Our local Dairy Queens state specifically "All products may contain nuts."

Elaine said...

As far as a chain, Mimi's is great for us. The managers have a whole book dedicated to dealing with allergies. We had a very pleasant experience there. They new exactly how far away any nut was from anything we were going to order.. We also have had a very good experience at the Old Spaghetti Factory as far as making sure they used a clean grill. They also new the difference between made in a facility and my contain and contains. We were very impressed. Same with Mimi's.

By the way, we ordered the Chocalate covered pretzels can not wait to try them.. I am so glad you said they were a favorite. I am not opening the box until we get closer. The kids are going to be so excited.

I sure hope you guys get better soon.. We have had it so bad. I think we are on the upswing. Except for the usual running nose my son has had most of his life.

gandhabonik said...

My friend also has food allergies - in eggs. I feel how badly it hurts. Though Robin has an allergy menu, contamination can still occur through carelessly using the same utensils or cutting boards. I wonder if other restaurants have similar allergy menus.

Anonymous said...

We always eat at Outback, mostly because there are no peanuts or peanut oils on site. Our local Outback verifies with us that the chef has been alerted and all utensils and cooking items are clear from any possible contamination. I have great concerns about some of the restaurants others have listed in the comments as being allergy friendly. I hope someone can enlighten me. Specifically, Macaroni Grill, Red Robin and California Pizza Kitchen to name only a few. While these restaurants do offer allergy menus, the above three I mentioned and many more, have disclaimers that they cannot guarantee cross contamination will not occur. To me, that statement prohibts the restaurant from being safe at all. What does everyone else think?

Jenny said...

People have brought up some great points. I believe that a restaurant has to appear to not only understand nut allergies but also not have a menu with main and side dishes containing peanuts or tree nuts. So because of the Asian dishes served, we've avoided California Pizza Kitchen, to name one place someone mentioned. I haven't been to Chili's in years--someone mentioned that they may have a menu that's heavy on the peanuts or tree nuts.

The other thing to do, once you've determined a place is safe to eat, is (after thoroughly communicating with the chef --this is crucial and if they won't do this I'd avoid a place) is to visually inspect the food once it's served. I've heard stories and personally experienced unsafe food despite all of my precautions.

If anyone feels they've been seved an usafe meal, always tell the staff what's occurred and follow up with a phone call to the manager.

Thanks for all of the responses everyone! You can eat out safely but you've got to speak up, stick to simple dishes and avoid a place with too many unsafe meals on the menu--such as Asian influenced or lots of peanuts/tree nuts in the main dishes.

Tasha said...

We enjoy Subway (you can always use your own bread substitute at home) , Chiptole (without the corn salsa), Bahama Breeze for fish (salmon) and jerk chicken entrees.

I strongly warn against O'Charley's, Mimi's cafe for children with peanut allergies like my son. The risk for cross-contamination is high. At o'Charley's, we explained our situation, and the chef warned us against everything fried for children on the menu (fried in peanut oil). He even made sure the drinks were free because we had to wait to order until he (the chef could come talk to us. Chick-a-fila was my favorite before, but we refrain from ordering from there because it also uses peanut oils. At Mimi's Cafe, there is even a peanut butter and jelly sandwish (PB&J soldiers on lunch menu).

Anonymous said...

For peanut\Tree nut allergies we have never had a problem at California pizza kitchen,Red Robin,macaroni grill,McDonald's, Burger King, Taco bell, El Charo, Chili's, outback,and cici's pizza.[but always ask just to safe.]

I do not recommend Zenders and Bavarian inn in frankenmuth,mi.Also when we went t apple bee's they told us our drinks were free and that we should leave.

I hope my tips have helped you my 12yearold daughter has a peanut and tree nut allergy and my one year old may possibly have a milk so we will report back soon!

Anonymous said...

My nut allergic child had a reaction at Chile's, we dont go there anymore. The chicken tenders at CPK have been safe so far. Thanks for the steer on Mcormick and Schmick.

Anonymous said...

I have severe peanut and mild treenut allergies. I never go to Dairy Queen. Nuts fly all over the place there. Arby's cannot guarantee that there isn't anything in their food. I eat Wendy's and McDonalds because anything with nuts is prepackaged. Nothing's made there so there's no room for cross contamination. Outback is safe. Buffalo Wild Wings is safe. Burger King is safe. Steak and Shake is not safe. They cannot guarantee anything. Taco Bell, KFC and Long John Silver's are all safe. (Including KFC's cookies which are very good btw). Auntie Anne's Pretzels are not safe, but We Rollin Pretzel Co. is safe. Little Ceasars, Dominos, Pizza Hut are all safe too. Hope this helps. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes , my peanut/nut allergic daughter (and I ) loved Aunt Ann's pretzels until the worker told me they dip the pretzels in the same butter as the almond pretzels, use the same brush, she offered to make a new pretzel on a sanitized tray, no butter, which was very nice of her, but we declined. American Girl's little café in Columbus was peanut free-when we went-my daughter was in heaven. (not sure if they all are peanut free-I think they have separate menus and take precautions.
My daughter was given a peanut butter/jelly sandwich by mistake, ordered turkey at a Panera bread-I realize now too risky-even for cross-contamination!

April said...

separate menus won't help us--allergy is so severe that if it is anywhere in the restaurant, we can not even enter. We are looking for one that is completely nut free on all items, all oils--no nut products at all in the building, and located in Missouri....

Cyndi said...

My son has tree nut allergy. Chipotle and Papa Johns do not serve any products containing nuts or tree nuts so they are safe for us! They have allergy guides/ingredient lists available on their websites for review as well.

GinaRosati said...

Uno's has an easy to use computer in the lobby where you can check ingredients. They've always been very accommodating to my peanut/treenut/sesame/shellfish free child