I didn't have input into our dinner location. Someone other than me chose Outback Steakhouse.
But that's fine. Really. I was with family and that matters more than what I can and can't eat.
Well, okay, sometimes. Matters more only sometimes.
It depends on which particular members of said extended family are present.
In any case, dinner was with family this night and the family (or some segment of it) had selected Outback.
I've been to Outback a few times over the years since I've needed to be gluten-free. Each time has been separated by a few years. Each time has produced a different gluten-free experience.
At least I can say with absolute clarity that each successive gluten-free experience at Outback has gotten better.
Better understanding from servers. Better information provided. Better confidence that I would eat safely.
Better is good.
So, I wasn't concerned about eating gluten-free this night with the family.
Little did I realize that this particular night at Outback held an even better surprise for me.
See, the extended family members that arrived first at the restaurant, well, they had a round of drinks. They were there before the rest of us. And then they had another round when the rest of us still hadn't shown up.
And the entire time, they were feeling pressure to order food, since they happened to be sitting at a table for eight. Two big, burly guys, drinking beer (ahem - beers, plural!), at a table for eight. At a table for eight during the busiest dinner rush. During the busiest dinner rush with many, many parties waiting for tables.
So, they finally caved. They had to order some food.
And this is what they ordered. Ordered for me. Gluten-free. Unbeknownst to me.
I hadn't arrived yet. I had placed no order with them. I had no idea what was coming for me.
Very shortly after I sat down at this table for eight already populated by two big burly guys and their beer detritus, this plate of loaded fries arrived. I pushed them back across the table.
Fries are never for me. I never order them (except at In 'N Out) and I certainly didn't order these. And, besides, they almost never are gluten-free. Just easier and better to never, ever, order fries.
But these had been ordered for me. And now they were before me.
"I probably can't eat them." I wasn't about to touch those fries.
"Yes, you can. We ordered them for you."
"But they are probably polluted from whatever else has been in the fryer." I was really ready for a small side salad, not a Mount McKinley mound of loaded fries.
"No. They're safe. They have a separate gluten-free fryer. You can eat them."
"Oh! A separate fryer? Really?!"
That is wholly uncommon. Rare. Unexpected. Atypical.
Better. Better by far. A dedicated fryer is way better, mate!
Um, thanks. I think. Now, I had to eat them. How could I not appreciate the extra effort by my big burly guy family members looking out for me?
Eat those fries, I would. Eat those fries, I did.
But not all of them. I shared. Liberally.
And then it came time to order actual dinner, as opposed to appetizers.
Here's a snapshot of their gluten-free menu.
I was already quite full from trying to appreciate all those gluten-free fries. I had a hard time ordering a gluten-free dinner.
But there were certainly choices for me! That is always a good thing.
If you find yourself with extended family at Outback Steakhouse, you have no need to worry. You have gluten-free choices!
Well, come to think of it, I don't know about your family. You might have to worry about them. You might have to worry about them a lot. You might not.
But you won't have to worry about your gluten-free food!