Wednesday, May 23, 2012

eating in las vegas: the nightmare version

Our first night in Vegas was not so glamorous...  We had trekked from our room at Circus Circus to our friends who were staying at Bill's Gamblin' Hall.  It was late in the evening, and we were pretty hungry.  We decided on Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, knowing ahead of time that the chain has a gluten free menu.  I had good experiences at the local Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in Paradise back in Cincinnati and expected the same quality.  We waited about 30 minutes on this Tuesday night. 

Once we were seated, I asked for a gluten free menu.  Our host disappeared to find one and never returned.  When I politely asked the server for a gluten free menu, she only asked, "What do you want?"  Her tone made me feel like an inconvenience, definitely not a guest.  I didn't have a menu yet, and I'm not familiar with their offerings - how could I know?

When she returned with our drink orders - one at a time - my friend's drink was wrong.  It was a strawberry daiquiri instead of a strawberry margarita.  That wasn't a good start, but I still had faith in the kitchen.  I was relying on my experience in Cincinnati...and blinded by the fact that the clock was ticking, and my belly didn't want to wait longer.

Eventually the server returned with a small menu that she read aloud to me.  It seemed that I was meant to memorize it, because she wasn't letting me look it over.  When she turned to leave, I asked to take a picture of it.  I set it on the regular menu to give a point of reference for the scale.
A gluten free bun?  That looks promising.  There's no mention of suggested sides, so I thought that the fries were safe.  I ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger gluten free with the sauce on the side.  I'm picky with sauces.  The server didn't suggest any changes. 

She brought out the barbecue sauce first, adding, "I don't know why you ordered the sauce.  It's got gluten." It was as if I should have known, and she laughed at me.  I was in shock and spoke in a staccato rhythm.  "I don't want it if it has gluten!  It was on the gluten free menu, so I thought it was safe.  I don't want it.  It'll make me really sick.  Please take it away."

A few minutes after that hair-raising moment, my meal arrived.  Scott politely asked the food-runner, "And this is gluten free?"  The server - who hadn't written down the order - quickly came over, interrupting the food-runner to say, "Yes, of course it's gluten free."  (In food allergy and intolerance world, you always have to double check.) 
Like clockwork, 30 minutes after my first bite, I was sick.  My unmistakable symptoms had begun, and I was miserable.  It was our first night in Vegas, and we were hanging out with my dear friend, the bride who would be getting married in just a few days.  While I was away, the server checked to see if I liked my burger or would like a box.  Scott said it had glutened me and that I was sick in the bathroom.  The server argued, "No, it's cooked the same way it always is," and offered no remorse, no sympathy.  No one checked on me once I finally returned to the table, and it limited our options for the remainder of the night...  Luckily I wasn't down & out the remainder of the trip. 

May you all have happier eating experiences!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

eating in las vegas: mon ami gabi

I'm a little ashamed that I haven't written at all during Celiac Awareness Month!  I'd intended to write more frequently this month instead of less, but things got all jumbled when I realized that the countdown to our vacation was on.

We spent the past week relaxing in Las Vegas and Newport Coast, California.  A friend from college had recommended watching the Fountains of Bellagio from Mon Ami Gabi - a cute French restaurant on the strip.  The patio has a terrific view of the fountains as they dance.  When I pulled up Find Me Gluten Free on my iPhone, it had a 5 star rating and 8 reviews - plus a dedicated & publicized gluten free menu and the promise of warmed gluten free bread!  We made a lunch reservation for our second day.

Our server was delightful, and the aroma of delectable food filled the air.  I was handed a gluten free menu (and it's advertised on the regular menu!).  I ordered a side salad, the all-natural chicken paillard with shallow-fry frites, and knew I'd want the crème brûlée.  Scott had the steak classique with shallow-fry frites.  Both the chicken and the steak had been pounded thin.  They were tender and flavorful.  Neither of us knew exactly what shallow-fry frites were.  I assumed they would be something like a shoestring French fry.  These were much better!  Wide but thin, they had a crunch similar to a chip but still with the substance of a fry.  The lemon butter and the herbs from the chicken rendered ketchup useless.
Before our food arrived, a gentleman brought out a loaf of fresh French baguette and gave it to Scott.  He put in an order of gluten free bread for me (below).  Both varieties came with a ramekin of sweet cream butter.
The crème brûlée was wonderful, making me realize that I'm bound to eat more of it at a Nordstrom Cafe Bistro in an attempt to relive this little getaway.
(I was too distracted by my own food to remember to take a picture of Scott's.  Guess we'll just have to go back!) 

I neglected to take a photo, but if you enjoy a variety of fine wines, you're in luck. We were surrounded by bottles of things like Dom Pérignon Rosé.

It was an excellent experience overall, and I'm looking forward to returning & checking out the other locations of Mon Ami Gabi.

Happy eating!  (And stay tuned for more food recommendations for Vegas & Southern California.)

Mon Ami Gabi on Urbanspoon