Sloane Miller, a.k.a. Allergic Girl, is a New York food-allergy coach, whose blog, Please Don’t Pass the Nuts (allergicgirl.blogspot.com), chronicles her successful and unsuccessful dining experiences. Her tips for safe eating and ordering:
➽ Don’t go on a Friday or Saturday night and expect a restaurant to turn its menu upside down. Eat out early in the week and early in the evening, especially if it’s your first time at a place.
➽ Call ahead and ask for the manager—say, “I have X allergies, and I’m coming in on X date. Can the chef work with me?”
➽ Don’t forget the bartender. Drinks can have hidden ingredients like egg whites or amaretto, which can trigger reactions.
➽ Eat at the bar. There’s something about being at eye level with your server. Plus you don’t have three different people taking care of you—an allergic person’s nightmare.
➽ Tip generously. When everything goes well, show your gratitude. Send the manager an e-mail the next day to let him know that the server and chef took care of you. Bonus: It’ll help staff remember you next time.
➽ If you feel your waiter isn’t listening, leave. If he doesn’t communicate your needs, the chef can’t accommodate you. Leaving takes chutzpa, but it’s better than the alternative.