A friend of mine who is gluten free recently put me in touch with the service director at a five-star restaurant in Manhattan. My friend is a true connoisseur of service and regaled me with an amazing tale of impeccable care when she ate at this restaurant. It made me want to know more about exactly how fine restaurants navigate food sensitivities in a way that makes someone like my friend rave and rave.
The service director (she asked that I not include her name or the name of the restaurant, which puzzles me, but perhaps they need to maintain the mystique about the way they provide amazing service) gave me a behind-the-scenes peek into the world of customer care in fine dining:
Here is what we do as a restaurant to help support our celiac friends and allow them to still have fun and experience the same level of service as guests without dietary restrictions: We ask every guest about preferences, allergies, and dietary restrictions as they are speaking with their Captain about the menu. This means that no individual guest is singled out while speaking about what they would prefer to not have during that meal.
In the event that a guest lets us know that they have a gluten allergy, we immediately let the kitchen know and the modification is placed on every course through the computer such that everyone in the kitchen is aware of the allergy. The manager is also informed of the allergy. This allows everyone in the restaurant to be completely comfortable with our ability do follow through with preferences.
Specifically for gluten allergies, we have four different gluten-free breads that we feature here. It is our belief that guests with gluten allergies should actually receive a better service (for bread) than their gluten-full counterparts. Guests who have our typical bread receive only one type of bread. Guest with gluten allergies receive four types of bread. Our gluten free bread comes from Everybody Eats. They are a fantastic company specializing in gluten free products. Often, guests who can eat gluten get a bit jealous of our gluten free bread service and end up trying some themselves.
There you have it. Thanks so much to this outstanding service director, who took the time to write that all down and send it to me. I see why my friend is so taken with you!
I'm not often a frequenter of 5-star restaurants (okay, maybe never), but I darn well want to know I'll be treated well if I'm going to make such a big splurge. I will definitely visit Lauren's restaurant for my next/first New York 5-star experience. Any other 5-star diners out there? What's your experience been? Do you have favorite go-to fancy eateries that handle the gluten thing with aplomb?