As many of you may have noticed….a lot of my recipes are Paleo and now AIP (AutoImmune Protocol). I know that not everyone is able to stay home, and cook every single meal. Sometimes we get sick, or just in general want a break from cooking all of the time. With AIP, it is impossible to do fast food (if you have any successful restaurants and meals for fast food, please do all of our friends a favor and leave us a comment. <3). Restaurants have a little more help, but you’re putting your trust in a person’s hands that you will probably not even see. This can be stressful! But, I want to tell you about my recent experience at the Chili’s in Conway, AR.
What?! Chili’s?! You mean….Nightshade allergy hell?! Stick with my guys.
1. Keep Calm and Carry On
We were there with my Mom and my Cousin Lisa. They had come down for a visit and that’s what we do in my family. We eat and visit and enjoy being around each other. This is what you need to “worry” about. Talk, stay calm, and have fun! Remember, you’re here to enjoy yourself. I truly believe, if you stay calm, you’ll be more likely to make great decisions and keep your health goals in mind, while enjoying your time eating out.
2. Take your Time and Seek out All of your Options
Look over the menu. Consider your budget. Consider what may be a little easier your first time out. When I went to Chili’s I ordered a burger, plain with bacon, asparagus and a side of avocado. It may seem weird to your family, and your waiter, but be confident. Know that this is what will fuel your body, and keep you healthy.
I waited till last and let everyone else order first. My order was long, wordy, and complicated. The burger I originally ordered would’ve been:
I think after this experience, this is my advice. Don’t concentrate so much on No’s. Let them know you have a lot of food allergies. Smile and give the waiter/waitress some confidence. They want to do a good job and get you what you need. Give the original name of what you’re looking at. Tell them what to take off. And then summarize with, “So basically, all I want is a burger patty, bacon, asparagus, and a side of avocado.”
4. Check that your Order is Correct as soon as it Arrives.
Now…No. We can’t test to see what spices, if they touched gluten, or anything like that. But, in general, check to see that they brought everything. Most servers will ask, “Does everything look right?” Make sure to tell them right then so they can try to help you as fast as possible. Be forgiving if they do mess up. You did have a pretty high maintenance order. I can’t brag enough about the server we had. He got my order right along with a total of 7 orders! For 4 adults total and 3 kids who all ordered different things except for two kiddos. Great job to the server for getting the order to the kitchen right, and just as big kudos going to the kitchen staff for getting it out right. Make sure, if they get it right, please make sure to smile at them, make eye contact and thank them! But, keep in mind…You may not always get the pro server. Sometimes you get the newbie that may mess up. You might be a great learning experience for them, so make it a good one so that even if they don’t do the greatest for you, they may be able to even better aid the next person with food restrictions.
5. Make sure to let Managers know that they were Able to Help you Well!
Of course…if something goes wrong. You want to let managers know and more than likely you surely will. But, we often forget to tell them when their staff does something really awesome. Now…being a blogger…I’m going to find a way to send this link to the manager so they can see what a great job they’re doing. Dealing with people who have food sensitivities is stressful. If they get something wrong, they could make someone sick. They know this. I waited a week before writing this because I wanted to make sure I had no reaction, whatsoever. I did not have any reaction and I am AIP, so my body is insanely sensitive right now to many things. If you’re reading this Manager of Conway, AR Chili’s…I hope you know, your staff really impressed me. I don’t remember the name of our server. It was Saturday, January 17th. We were seated by the windows on the right side of the restaurant (from the coming in the door’s perspective). The gentleman who served us, I believe was blonde. Very kind. I would come back to that restaurant just to sit in his section…if I remembered his name!
So for this AIP, Common Sense Cook….it only seems Common Sense to give thanks where it is due, and pass a long this great experience to you guys. Have you had a good experience with any food restriction at a restaurant? Leave a comment below!
I hope you enjoyed this “episode” of Common Sense Philosophies. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for Manic Monday where I try to share a recipe that is super fast, or super easy…and always super yummy.
-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook