Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Gluten-Free Eating at Uno's Chicago Grill

Revisiting Gluten-Free Menus

How often do you check in on restaurants and their gluten-free menus? Do the gluten-free menus evolve?

I don't explicitly go looking for menu updates, but in the normal course of going out, I do try to pay attention.

With the growing awareness of gluten-free dining needs, there really is an evolution in the menus.

I am seeing more and more gluten-free sections included on the main menus. This is a vast improvement over a secondary, special menu listing only the gluten-free items.

Often, those separate, special menus don't include drinks or side dishes or even prices! In these cases, I have to ask for both menus. Usually I am only given the special menu. Um, thanks, but if I don't know what drinks are offered and you didn't list them in the special menu, am I supposed to assume that none of your drinks are gluten-free???

Really? No, of course not.

Then, please, restaurants, please list the drinks and the prices and sides and salad dressings on the special menu! Please!

Or better yet, as seems to be the increasing trend, is including everything on one menu. Normal offerings and special offerings. And drinks and side dishes and prices. All together. Happy, happy, happy.

Bonus points if you offer a gluten-free dessert! It's not hard, really. Fresh fruit is always gluten-free, when prepared in a clean, unglutenated area. And if the perishability of fresh fruit is a concern, there's ice cream. Most single-flavor ice creams are gluten-free. Not all, but most.

Good vanilla bean ice cream is a great option. It's not hard. Really.

Uno Chicago Grill on Urbanspoon

Uno's Chicago Grill

Of course, it is easier to evaluate updates to the menus when you frequent the same places, well, frequently.

I prefer variety. I don't prefer frequent, repeat visits to just a few places. But eventually, most of us are likely to circle around to the same restaurants from time to time. Even me.

It has been some time (years?) since I have been back Uno's.

Time to compare their menu today with whatever I can remember of it from the last time I was there.

I think I order the same thing each time I come here. It's not because there aren't other choices. There are. Quite a few gluten-free options, in fact.

I guess I just like certain things.

Here's what's left of my Classic Cobb Salad, once I remembered to take a picture.

Good, as always. Just as good as my previous visits.

But then I looked across the table to what my daughter ordered.

"What is that? I want that!"

"It's the Uno Power Salad," she informed me.

"I didn't have that option on my gluten-free menu. Why not? I see spinach, tomato, carrots, feta cheese. I can have all of those. What else is on it? What can't I have???"

"I don't know. I has raisins and vinaigrette. Those should be okay. But it is probably all listed on the menu," she said.

So I asked our server for a regular menu to investigate.

"Grilled chicken, spinach, tomato, carrot, feta, red grapes, goji berries, raisins, soy nuts, almonds, pepitas, Ocean Spray® Dried Cranberries and fat free vinaigrette."

"I'll bet I can have all of those things, if they aren't corrupted with some sprinkling of wheat flour in some processing somewhere. But I won't know for sure unless I can read all of the labels on each of those things they put on it. Bummer. They could offer that salad, or something very, very close to it, as a gluten-free option if they would select gluten-free versions of those toppings. Real bummer."

I liked my Cobb salad. But what I really wanted was the gluten-free version of what my daughter ordered off the regular menu.

Can we, gluten-free-eaters-extraordinaires, get a gluten-free version of this? Please?!

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