Saturday, September 5, 2009

Allergy Friendly Red Robin

It can be hard to eat out if you are allergic or intolerant to various foods. You aren't able to read the ingredients lists for each and every item that goes into a dish. Nor can you trust that the server knows which menu items are safe. Most people are unaware that avoiding dairy, for example, means avoiding more than just milk and cheese. Dairy, like many allergens, can be found as an ingredient in so many foods. And, it isn't as simple as looking for ingredients like "milk" or "butter". You have to know a whole list of words like "magnesium caseinate" and "delactosed whey". And, you have to look for them in everything even if you think there couldn't possibly be dairy in it. The same goes for any of the major allergens.

Because of this, I was thrilled to find out that Red Robin, one of my kids' favorite places to eat, is allergy friendly. They are not only aware of allergies but they have allergy menus. Just ask for them when you are seated and the manager will bring it out to you. Each menu is printed on plain white printer paper but has all of the information you need. It provides a list of which menu items are safe to eat as normally prepared and which menu items are safe to eat with changes. Those requiring changes list the required changes. On the dairy menu, many of the items stated things like "no cheese" and "no seasoning salt on meat patty". Then, you simply order the items as stated. I told the necessary changes to our server. He made sure to relay the dairy allergy to the cooks, who ensured my meal was indeed dairy free. They indicated that their mayo had dairy in it and left it off my burger as well. To my knowledge, most mayo doesn't have dairy so I thought that perhaps he meant dressing. Regardless, it was nice to know that they went above and beyond the stated substitutions to ensure my meal was dairy free.

There is one very important disclaimer: They do not guarantee that there will be no cross contamination. They are simply not able to prevent that. Therefore, Red Robin is still not a good choice for those who are extremely allergic. But, for the rest of us, it's nice to know that it is safe enough.

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