This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Featured Gluten Free Resource: GF Registry

I have no relationship with the companies or organizations I review, nor do I receive any compensation for my reviews.  

The Gluten Free Registry Restaurant Finder

This web resource (including an android app option) offers a geographical search for restaurants that claim to offer gluten-free dining options.  The most useful part, however, is the user reviews.  While Urban Spoon reviews are handy for finding good food, this registry focuses on SAFE food for the gluten-sensitive.

In order to make it a better resource, please add reviews of both your favorite gluten-free restaurants and those that made you sick so that others can make good decisions.  It is generally also helpful to include your sensitivity level in your review (i.e. whether you just need to avoid bread and breading, or if even trace exposure to gluten makes you horribly ill).  If you are only mildly sensitive, you may be able to eat safely at a place that would make someone with a severe sensitivity very sick. 

The primary limitation of the Registry is that it depends on diner reviews, which depend on the diner's gluten sensitivity level and the kitchen/waitstaff that happened to be working that night.  We visited one restaurant (PF Changs) in Atlanta and had a fabulous experience the first time.  I wrote a glowing review on the registry.  Unfortunately the next two visits involved bad gluten exposures and I had to add a new, negative review.  If a restaurant only has a few reviews based on single visits, you take the chance that the diner was lucky that night. 

Please use your own judgement and never hesitate to:

a) ask to talk to the manager and/or chef to make a more informed decision, and
b) walk out or stick to drinks if you see things that make you nervous (unclean plates or tables, uninformed wait staff, etc.)

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