Well this was a tough one, but I enjoy a challenge. It is when reviewing restaurants like last nights request, I would love to spend some time with the kitchen staff, ask a bunch of questions, collaborate, and come to some happy agreements. But I have to remember that while a restaurant I choose for review may not be my usual inclination, my job is to report the options, seek the surprises, and note the positive efforts towards a nutritional shift (or at least the ways restaurants are working to accommodate dietary needs.)
Plus, I'm on a streak of locating options in mainstream places. Being chain restaurants, I would expect the education and accommodations of healthy options and dietary needs to be greater, so it's always interesting to see what I can find.
I was asked to do this review (YES! YOU CAN SUGGEST A RESTAURANT FOR ME TO REVIEW) because this person likes to go watch the games with their friends and wanted help knowing what the options were. He wanted to know how he could be there without making a scene, order what he needed, without having to be an embarrassing burden and an obvious anomaly. (So basically, he wanted to know how he could live normally) Well, from first glance at the menu, you're going to have to be a burden. ALWAYS ASK! It could be the difference between eating lettuce (as you wiggle your nose) and enjoying a tasty entree. I think of how many have their gluten free menus handy but only WHEN YOU ASK. For those of you in this predicament, it could just mean excusing yourself to go to the restroom, and taking your server aside on your way to place your order.
I was (honestly) a BIT surprised at what I felt were minimal efforts displayed even in a climate of changing need, I am also not here to condemn or misunderstand. Buffalo Wild Wings is very good at serving the sport enthused meat fueled, wild wing seeker audience it caters to, and after all, restaurants are NOT required to offer options to all types. I understand that, and I keep an open mind. I figure it is MY life and MY choice and no one is responsible to accept or even adapt to that. It's okay to me that others don't choose to.
I'm guessing they will at some point, though, and at that point I'll be happy to check them out again! As it seems to me that all restaurants are going to have to adapt to the ability to make accommodations to the ever increasing needs of food intolerances, allergies, and disease conditions, or greatly feel the impact on their bottom line as groups will simply move to similar service restaurants, that maybe have a healthy option or two. (and it really does need to be only an option or two. A restaurant doesn't need to change their focus or who/what they cater to, just one or two entrees that are chef quality, nutritious, gluten free fare as a start) To be fair, there is the option of salads, but after you hand select the ingredients that need to be removed, you're left with...lettuce. And this is true for most of us at most restaurants, we're really only left with salad options.
I made our mission clear to our server right away when he asked if we hand any questions, and he was quick to produce a binder full of any allergen information I wanted to know.
With insight, he even offered mandarin oranges to my little man. Thumbs up! I probably took him quite off guard when I told him what my goal was.
If you are a meat eater, there will be options as long as you ask the kitchen to remove some of the sauces and extras so be sure to ask for the allergen binder and check out for yourself which ones.
For vegetarian options, there are the salads, with removal of additions, a veggie boat of carrots, celery and ranch dressing, there is vegetable cole slaw. And ask for the kids mandarin oranges.
While I didn't have a lot to report to all the dietary restricted, I am happy for
ANY nutritious choices offered. It would however, take only a small effort and I think they would find the efforts have big impact on their customers, with minimal impact on their finances.
The black bean burger (yes, they offer one!) Great for the vegetarian, but it's got wheat in it. There are many options that don't so just switching to one that is gluten free.
Add baked potatoes, or rice as side options. Or even simple steamed vegetables. or beans.
Olive oil and lemon as an additional option instead of dressing.
The Garden Crasher sounded great, but perhaps there could be on option to serve it with tortilla chips?(I know, it's corn and probably GMO but I'm weighing my options here, and at least that would give a gluten free option. Also if we're going to be that pure, we probably shouldn't eat out EVER :))
So what did I do? I ordered french fries and coleslaw( not dairy free) and enjoyed the time with the biggest and smallest of the males in my household.
I asked our server if there were requests from customers for dietary adaptations and he said, "not as much as you'd think, but we know to expect it" And by giving the binder, they can make their own safe choices. This is ideal for those that want to know exactly which allergens are in their food.
I've simply avoided many because I assumed there wouldn't be options for me. If so, that's sad for everybody. I'm here to support restaurants to be safe, adapt menus, and create options for gluten sensitivity and nutrition factors; and I'm here to support people in finding options.
By they way, we sat in "83" if you want to sit in a famous booth. Hahaha
What it comes down to is that sometimes you have to weigh your goals; if it's to spend camaraderie time with your buds, either you get new buds, go to a different place, or eat before you go.
I don't think Buffalo Wild Wings is wrong in any way, they just cater to a different palate, and that's okay. Requester, I hope that gives you a bit of help in making a decision about if you can attend the game days with your bros, and I'm hoping this post may bring out ideas of other options for you.
Honestly, when it comes down to it, ANYTHING in life could cause limitations, the feeling of lack and victimization and discord. Life is about experiences, so live it in a way that you can be proud and happy of. Where there's a will, there's a way, so go enjoy your bro time. You'll either find a way to adapt the menu, or you'll eat before or after, or maybe this is just a drinks date.
But I'm curious to hear what others of you in the predicament have come up with as solutions? Do you give in and do what everyone else does? Do you find other people to do things that are more similar to you? Do you go to the restaurant just to hang with your friends? Comment below, I'm sure others would like to hear as well.