Flat Top Grill Makes it Easy for People with Food Allergies

September 27, 2009

A new Flat Top Grill recently opened down the street from my office on Wabash in the loop. I’d been impatiently awaiting the opening as a friend who has Celiac had told me this was a safe place for him to eat. When the two of us go out to eat, we joke that if I can eat it there’s about a 95% chance he can eat it, but if he can eat it, there’s like a 25% chance I can. I tried not to get my hopes up.

Flat Top Grill is made to order stir fry where you make your way through a large bar of goodies (meat, veggies, sauce, etc.) and then hand your bowl off to a cook to do the rest. On huge signs above the food is a list of suggestions for people with allergies/sensitivities to wheat and soy. Huge step in the right direction, but for me only half of what I needed to know.

When we arrived at the restaurant there was a 15-20 minute wait. I asked to speak to the manager and see if I could get the scoop on how to eat milk, wheat, corn, AND soy free. Mani Santiago, the Kitchen Manager came over to speak with me. He assured me there were choices I could make to eat safely. He brought over an allergy book that in addition to wheat and soy included information for people allergic to dairy, corn, sugar, and garlic among other things. The listing was really comprehensive and Mani went back to the office and made copies that my friend and I could take with us.

There are lots of great choices for people with allergies. All of the ingredients on the bar are fresh so it’s an opportunity to eat allergy free AND healthy. Flat Top Grill makes every person’s meal made to order. For those with food allergies, they provide a white stick that you include with your order that signals the chef to cook it in a separate area to avoid any cross-contamination. My one gripe (and I already told Mani this) is that the only major allergy free sauces are water based so it would be nice if they had some dry spices (which are usually allergen free) on the bar so people like me could add a little kick to their food (or even better a flavorful milk, wheat, corn, soy free sauce but I know this is a bit of a pipe dream). And, of course if they added Red Bridge or New Grist gluten-free beer to the menu, I might become a daily customer. As it is, I will no doubt be going back sometime very soon.

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