Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Carrabba's, Cheeseburger In Paradise, & Vin De Set -SCD-Friendly Dining Out

Interesting factoid about blogging: I can see what you, the reader, search in Google to find my blog. Kinda cool, yet kinda creepy. But the truth is we are being monitored all the time and we give away our own information without even realizing it. Point being, I noticed that quite a few people are searching for restaurants that are going to be easy to work with on the specific carb diet. This is understandable, I have tried many times to eat out, under the guise of a half-way decent kitchen that seemed to care or a waitstaff that all too quickly assured me that they could separate my meal from the allergen-infested rest of the kitchen, and then instant death (!) or so it felt like. Getting sick from eating something non-scd compliant is not fun. It takes weeks to recuperate from and is entirely frustrating. And trying to explain things like, "yes i can have cheese but not milk or cream" to a stranger who is running around during a rush is not at all appealing. This is why I rarely eat out. It's just not worth it to me. I am completely accustomed to cooking everything at home, and it takes a special occasion to get me out of that routine. Fortunately, I have had some very good experiences that eclipse the bad ones, and I feel like I should share, so that you too can comfortably dine out on scd, if you so decide to.

*Of note: These are my personal experiences. While it is great to use them as a guide when selecting where to eat out, Please, PLEASE always check everything at your local restaurant to make sure it is the same. Read and re-read the menus, talk to the managers, and call ahead during a not-busy time if necessary. I have worked in the restaurant industry before, and let me tell you, there are some people that could care less weather you get sick or not from the food they serve and prepare. Choose a place of dining out wisely.

1. Carrabba's
Italian food on the specific carbohydrate diet? Whaaaat? That's what I first thought when I read some reviews of other bloggers eating there. Surprisingly though they are very allergen aware and I could not be happier with them. I have eaten here on several occasions and at different locations and I have never felt sick afterwards. First of all ask for the gluten-free menu. There is a starting point, that eliminates a lot of their items and also points out that the grill-baste has gluten. That's a no-no. I asked about one of the lemon-wine sauces that top a few of the things and it turns out that has cream in it. Things I have ordered and felt ok afterwards: Their House salad dressing. One of my waiters was in nursing school and promised to take care of me when I first went there. He was awesome, he answered every single question I had and even would go back to the kitchen and have the head chef write down all the ingredients of what I would ask about on paper, and then he would bring it back out to me and say "is that ok?" Good kid, I had to tip well. If I can remember correctly they make the House dressing with egg, sardines, parmesan, and lemon (I may have forgotten one thing) but it was totally scd-legal. So I like to order the Cesar salad with House dressing instead of Cesar and grilled shrimp on top with no baste, just plain grilled shrimp. I am sure they would grill it in aluminum if you felt that the grill was contaminated, but I did not feel the need to. I have also ordered there the grilled chicken, no baste, and zucchini on the side which is just sautéed with oil and tomatoes.

2. Cheeseburger In Paradise
Another chain, which scared me. I went there thinking I would just have to order a plain salad with oil and vinegar, but it turns out they also have a gluten-free menu. All of their beef is fresh, not frozen or marinated. There are not a whole lot of options at this place for an scd-er but I managed to find a burger with a fried egg on top. I ordered it without a bun and subbed a white cheese for the cheddar that was standard (this is a personal thing of mine, I don't eat cheeses with added color- which means any cheese that is not white, basically). What really impressed me about this place, though, is that when they brought out the entrees instead of having mine crammed on that giant black serving disk next to breads and french fries, the manager himself brought my separate plate out, wearing rubber gloves. He introduced himself and made sure I knew he would be of any service to me if necessary. The fact that my food was brought out separately and handled with such extreme care as wearing gloves assured me that the kitchen is well trained on how to keep necessary things separated. The burger actually tasted really good, and with the egg on top, it was one of the most filling things I've eaten in a while. I would definitely go back here.

3. Vin de Set
Located in St. Louis, it's a little French place with a neat little rooftop eating area and quite a good reputation. It was a number of months ago that I ate there, so I am trying to remember specifically what was ordered. I got a pork steak which was so perfectly cooked I barely had to chew it- amazing, really. And I got a side of sautéed veggies, I believe they were small carrots- not the fake "baby" carrots that fill the bags at the grocery store- but just prematurely pick small carrots that were delightful to eat, cooked only with some oil, or perhaps butter. There was also a sort of olive tapenade that came out with the other members of my parties' plates that I tasted, which was good, but I had nothing to dip into it. Other members of my party ordered giant steaks- I forget which cut. But those were definitely undefiled and I would have felt comfortable ordering the steak as well, had I been in the mood. What I remember being great, too, is that the waitstaff was competent. The wonderful thing about upscale dining is that they don't hire people who had a decision between waiting tables or stripping. The waitress I talked with brought me a gluten-free menu and could answer my questions without needing to run back and forth to the kitchen. She used technical terms like, "I don't think that's made from a roux base" which I needed to hear- but I think most people would not have understood. I highly recommend this place, it's really nice to find a restaurant that wants to honor food by sticking to the way it was intended to be enjoyed instead of adding artificial crap to everything.

I hope this helps any of you who are trying to figure out where to go for a special night out, or at least how to approach things in a restaurant setting.


  1. This is a great post, thank you! I will definitely be trying Carrabba's when I feel ready. I just started SCD about 5 weeks ago with only my 2nd real flare from UC. This flare is going on 6 weeks with 4 days in the hospital, it's getting better but I'm still on 40mg of Prednisone which is killing me.

    I just found your site today, there are so many great ones out there but I have literally been reading yours all days, I think my eyes are bloodshot. I love it!! It's just making me ridiculously hungry, I want to try all these great foods but I know I'm not ready.

    Question...How did you pace yourself through the stages? I carried the Intro phase out a little too long because I was so sick. I've gotten down to 95lbs, I know I need to eat more but it's difficult while trying to stay within the phases...any advice? I'm certainly not symptom free, mainly slight bleeding and all the fun gurgling, gas pains, etc...I understand this is not a quick process.

    Thank you also for your info about your Natropath Dr...I have been considering this and really want to find a good one now. I hope you are feeling well!

    Thanks again, any advice would be great!!
    Michelle (Ohio)
    p.s...we've had our VitaMix for 2 yrs now...really, how do people get through their day without one??

    1. Michelle,
      Thank you for all your kind compliments- they really made my day. So sorry to hear you are having such a terrible flare. To answer your question about the stages: each person is so incredibly different you really have to figure that out for yourself. I too, stayed in the first phase for a very long time. I'm sure you figured out by reading my other posts that is was a year before I could eat anything raw and about 6 months before I even touched any nuts. I did not lose weight like you,thought. My suggestion would be to not shy from fats- cook with lots of oils, eat larger portions of meats since those have calories without the carbs. Use spices as much as you can to create variations in the foods that you are limited to. Eggs are excellent to eat any time of day, if you can tolerate them. Are you introducing a new food every 3rd day to expand your list? It does take a long time to build up your "ok" and "not-ok" lists. Look for simple recipes to keep you on the 1st phase until you work your way out of it. For instance 1 banana, mashed + 1 egg, mixed = pancake when fried in some oil or butter. And if you feel the terrible urge to cheat- like you absolutely have to- only cheat on your phase, not on the whole diet. So if you are craving something sweet and crunchy, don't eat a bag of M&Ms, eat a raw apple with peanut butter that is legal. Make sense?
      If you are still dealing with a large number of symptoms it is really best not to rush anything. But yes, I so do suggest finding a naturopathic doctor. I really don't believe that SCD alone is enough to fix someone that is in as tough of a predicament was you and I were. Without the supplements I take I really believe I would still be struggling.
      Hope this helps, and thanks again for reading!

  2. Thanks so much for your suggestions...they make a lot of sense! The banana pancakes and carrot pancakes are a life savor right now. I actually made some chicken dusted in a very little bit of coconut flour tonight, I'm sure I shouldn't have...we shall see?? I am making an appt with a Naturopathic Dr soon...I'm so interested in the supplements your Dr put you on. I agree, I think this diet gives an incredible base to begin healing but everyone's situation is so different. Another method about food pairing I followed (somewhat)is very big on not eating fruit with ANYTHING else, just like your Dr suggested. This is hard as you almost have to eat it first thing in the morning.

    Thank you again...I will continue to read all your recipes and salivate until I can actually try them! What about that pear pie without the think I can do that maybe? I want a dessert so bad!

    Hope you are feeling well:)

    1. I think the pear pie filling is definitely something you should be able to do. Cooked pears were one of my first foods, and other than that it's just some spices and a little honey.

      Thanks again for following! Hope you heal quickly!