Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gluten-free pizza at BJ's? Maybe, maybe not

The worst thing that can happen to celiacs when we go out to dinner is to find out our food has been contaminated with gluten. The second-worst is to find out that the restaurant doesn't have its gluten-free specialty available.
Last night, I went to the new BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, which I've been touting as another venue we can go to for gluten-free pizza and beer. I had been there once before the first week it was open and they didn't have Redbridge beer. Disappointing, but I can handle that. I've had that same experience at Mellow Mushroom, which offers Bard's beer but has been out on several ocassions. I can eat pizza without beer when necessary.
But last night was ridiculous. BJ's was out of gluten-free pizza crusts, so they had no pizza available!
I was informed of this by the manager about 10 minutes or so after I ordered. He was very nice about it and said I could order any other entree on the house. But BJ's gluten-free menu is pretty limited without pizza. Beyond salads, it's basically a choice between steak and salmon. So I got a free steak.
That's fine, but it doesn't make up for not having pizza available. If I really, really had my heart set on pizza last night (I didn't, but often times I do), I would have been furious. And I should point out they apologized for not informing me they were out of gluten-free crusts when I placed my order. So I got the impression that if I was told there was no gluten-free pizza when I ordered, I wouldn't have received a free substitute. It would have been a completely awful experience.
I generally won't go to a restaurant if I don't know in advance what gluten-free menu options are available. I'm not smart enough about food to have discussions with the chef on how to prepare a certain item gluten free. So I choose my restaurants carefully.
The bottom line is, if you really want to go out for gluten-free pizza and beer, BJ's is not the place to go.

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