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.
Testing How Local Restaurants Accommodate Diners With Allergies