Monday, January 21, 2008

Wildfire- What a disappointment!

I decided to celebrate my birthday with my husband and son at Wildfire in Oakbrook this past weekend. I choose this establishment based on the excellent selection of GF entrees and their supposed knowledge of GF/Celiac needs. It started out fine and quickly went downhill.

I made the reservation online and explained that I needed a GF menu and that I had Celiac Disease. We arrived and I was given the menu and escorted to the table. I explained to the waitress that I had Celiac's and that I was dining gluten free. She seemed to know what I was talking about. This is where the problems began. I ASSUMED she knew what was gluten free and what wasn't and that my dining experience would be fine.

Note: We arrived at 11:45 am for our reservation. When it was all over it was close to 2 pm. When dining gluten free it always takes much longer! Little things make a world of difference. What may seem like no big deal to a waitress/waiter or manager, the attitude of the staff can ruin a dining experience.

I ordered the Filet Medallions Oscar and the Wildfire chopped salad. I was served the salad with an vinegar and oil dressing. I was told by her that this was the only dressing I could have. I explained to her that the ranch was listed on the GF menu and that I would like to have that. She then said, "Oh, I think we have GF bread. Would you like some?" I said yes and 10 minutes later I was given a toasted roll without butter. I asked for butter and she said, "Oh you cannot have our butter. It has something in it you cannot have." She walked away. I looked at my husband and said, "Pure whipped butter doesn't contain gluten!" It was her attitude and ignorance that made me upset.

I was then told 20 minutes later that they could not make the sauce for my dinner (they do not make it until after 4 pm) and that they would just give me the filet-which I really didn't want, but accepted. When my filet came, I asked for some steak sauce and was told they didn't have any steak sauce that was gluten free. I knew they had A-1 and there are no gluten containing ingredients in A-1. This is when I asked to speak to a manager.

The assistant manger came over and explained that the waitress was new and that she made a mistake. He also said I could have the butter. I told him I was disappointed and I specifically choose this restaurant because it was supposed to be GF and Celiac friendly. I asked him why they have not trained ALL of their staff on GF dining and that is when he became a little defensive. His attitude had changed from friendly to defensive. If you have had a similar experience when trying to dine GF, you just want to cry and I did! I had lost my appetite and my birthday dinner was ruined.

At this point, my son was done and wanted to go, my husband seemed a little upset and I didn't want to be there anymore. I wrapped my own steak to go and my son and I headed for the door while my husband, unknown to me, had a second conversation with the main manager, Tim Mahler, who admitted fault and was apologetic.

He adjusted the bill, which was nice, but my birthday dinner was a disappointment. Why? It was the initial attitude and ignorance of the wait staff that ruined the experience. It seems management is not training ALL employees on what it means for the customer to have a GF dinning experience. I do not think we will be going to Wildfire again.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bruce Restaurant Review CSA/GC

I recently dined at the following restaurants and wanted to pass this information to you. Stillwater Restaurant and Wine Bar:Located at 5141 Main Street in Downers Grove (630 324-4291)Under the direction of owner/chef Mark Stutz. Open 7 days for lunch/dinner.This is the kind of place you dream about. The entire staff is very aware of dining GF.

They use color coded pans, utensils, dedicated oven and Chef is very detailed on the issue.I have been there twice and both times my seafood entrees were perfect. Nice selection of appetizers which include Garlic/Goat cheese pita (GF of course), crab salad, wonderful salads and very tasty french onion soup.Do not miss the exceptional Flourless Chocolate cake!The GF menu is classy and in addition to whats offered on the GF menu, dont overlook items on the regular menu. Many are already GF or can be made GF, and the Chef will advise you further.

Anthonys Italian Chop House:Located at 1909 Spring Rd in Oakbrook (630 472-6000) in the Doubletree Hotel. Under the direction of CSA Executive Chef Aaron Flores. Open daily EXCEPT SUNDAYS from 5p-10p. This is a GF oasis for dining options and you will look forward to visit again. Chef Flores was in and he advised how they use a seperate cooking area and the staff undergoes extensive training on how to prepare GF meals.Another classy GF menu. They serve you some of the very best rolls, those I dined with wanted my rolls instead of thier bread.

I had thier signature dish, Seafood Risotto and it was fantastic. The menu offers a variety of options with a Mediterranean flair and Chef Flores updates the choices. I did notice GF brownies and other dessert items listed.The Atrium Cafe (did not try) is open daily for bfast/lunch and I was informed offers a GF menu. My intentions are to send out an email several times a month with Restaurant Reviews. Restaurant Review forms are avlb, contact me to have them sent to you.


Dining tip:Every Chef I have spoken with here in the Chicagoland area or when I travel inform me how much they APPRECIATE knowing in advance that I will be dining and what my dietary needs are (specifically those restaurants without a GF menu)..... HAPPY DINING! Bruce Restaurant Review CSA/GC