Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Burtons Grill: best restaurant experience ever

    Jake wanted to take me out to a restaurant, which is pretty difficult to do. We went to Croc's in Virginia Beach thinking they would have anything that could be gluten free, considering they advertise that they sell nothing but local and fresh food. However, they didn't even have shrimp that wasn't already breaded or anything else for that matter. Honestly, if something is fresh, it doesn't have gluten. So how in the world do you advertise your restaurant to serve fresh food when it really isn't? Don't get me wrong, I will still count on Croc's for cheap drinks on Friday nights :)
    One time for lunch I stayed later at work than I had originally planned, so I went into Panera Bread to get a smoothie. I also asked for a soup while I was at it, the only one that didn't have gluten (I looked it up online but can't remember which one it is now). The girl said they were out of it but I could have some new soup Panera just added to the menu. I asked if it contained gluten, and she responded "Oh every soup is just fine." I asked for the allergy checklist to make sure and every one of their soups besides the one I asked for had gluten. Wow. You would think someone in the food service industry would know how to answer their customers concerning their food.
    This weekend, I went to Starbucks. I got a drink and they were handing out free new desserts with each purchased beverage. I was about to say no when I spotted a caramel-nutty square. It appeared to contain nothing but nuts, caramel, and melted chocolate. I asked the barista if she knew whether that square contained gluten. She looked at me with such perky confidence and answered, "Oh I'm sure it's chock full of gluten!" I apparently gave her some look (I'm not good at hiding my thoughts) because she followed up her response with "I'm guessing everything that is full of fat or full of sugar is also full of gluten." I told her gluten is a wheat protein and has nothing to do with fat or sugar and she was completely lost. Another wow.
    I totally understand if a person with no intolerances who doesn't work in the food service industry would not know what gluten is. Heck, I didn't know what it was until it turned out to be why I was so ill. But if you are someone who serves a large number of people on a daily basis, you should probably have a good bit of knowledge about food allergies and intolerances. Someone commented after I walked away from the dessert that I have such great self control. In my head, I was thinking, no woman, it's self preservation. But the woman was just a customer so I don't blame her for not having a clue.
    Getting to my point, Jake took me to Burtons Grill in Virginia Beach. Oh my goodness, what an experience. As soon as we walked in, the host asked if I would like a gluten free menu. I wanted to hug him. Once we were seated, our incredibly awesome and thoughtful waitress recognized my gluten free menu, and told us the specials for the day, and told us which specials could be made gluten free if they weren't already. I ordered the local Rockfish with Shrimp and Crab Risotto. The fish was bronzed to perfection and was so fresh and delicious. I also ordered a Bacardi mojito. The bartender walked over to our table and told us she was looking online, and found a website that said Bacardi rum may have caused a reaction in a Celiac. She asked if I wanted anything else or if I have had that rum so I would know whether I would be okay to drink it. I told her it would be fine since I've had it and I know it's distilled and gluten free. Someone must have had a hangover and made some dumb assumption that it was the gluten. Anyway, it was awesome that the bartender actually took the time to look up the ingredients to make sure I was safe to drink it. Then it came time for dessert... mine and Jake's favorite time of day. Jake ordered the hot fudge sundae, which would be sprinkled with heath bar (which is processed in a factory that contains wheat, but I've never had any kind of reaction). The waitress informed me of this to make sure it would okay. Honestly, I felt like I was eating dinner at my parents' house. If you go to your parents' house for dinner, they are going to do everything possible to make sure nothing you eat makes you sick. That's exactly how it was at Burtons. The staff treated me like a queen. It was the most phenomenal service either of us have ever received at a restaurant... or any public establishment for that matter. I can understand why Burtons Grill is number 1 or 2 on Trip Advisor. I hope this restaurant lasts because I certainly appreciate having a place I can count on going and enjoying  like a normal person.

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