— Brian E (@bje22201) January 23, 2016
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The conditions outside still are treacherous for travel, so staying indoors for a while is the best idea. But if you’re already suffering from cabin fever and have the ability to easily and safely walk somewhere for a bite or a drink, there are options. Some places are even running winter storm specials.
Here’s the list of Arlington restaurants and bars that told us they’re definitely open, at the very least with limited hours and menu selections:
- A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive)
- Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Big Buns (4401 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bistro 360 (1800 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street)
- Brooklyn Bagel (2055 Wilson Blvd.)
- Cafe Asia (1550 Wilson Blvd.)
- The Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike)
- Citizen Burger Bar (1051 N. Highland Street)
- Courthaus Social (2300 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave.)
- Cowboy Cafe (4792 Lee Hwy)
- Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S)
- Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd.)
- Fireworks Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd.)
- First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive
- Front Page (4201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Hard Times Cafe (3028 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd.)
- Kona Grill (1776 Wilson Blvd.)
- Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd.)
- Lost Dog Cafe (2920 Columbia Pike)
- Mussel Bar (800 N. Glebe Road)
- O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd.)
- P. Brennan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (2910 Columbia Pike)
- Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Rd.)
- Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd.)
- Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd.)
- Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street)
- Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Sehkraft Brewing (925 N. Garfield Street)
- Sushi Rock (1900 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Tortoise & Hare (567 23rd Street S)
- Westover Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd.)
- William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike)
- World of Beer (901 N. Glebe Rd.)
To help celebrate Mexican Independence Day and its own 15 year anniversary, Guajillo in Rosslyn will be giving customers the chance to scarf down a burrito the size of a small newborn baby.
The Mexican restaurant in the Colonial Village Shopping Center (1727 Wilson Blvd) will hold its annual burrito eating contest this coming Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. Up to six contestants will attempt to eat a 16-inch, seven-pound burrito called El Cachudo for a chance to win a future dinner for two, said Guajillo spokeswoman Joahna Hernandez.
“El Cachudo is a 16-inch long burrito made with flour tortilla, filled with Mexican rice, refried pinto beans, Oaxaca cheese, pork carnitas, shredded beef, shredded chicken, lightly battered tilapia and most importantly, voodoo salsa made with a blend of fresh habaneros and garlic. It is served with pico de gallo and sour cream on the side,” Hernandez said.
The current record to beat is 20 minutes, which was set by an 18-year-old named Ian, she said. Guajillo co-owner Rolando Juarez started the contest in 2009 and named the burrito El Cachudo, which is a slang word for devil in Spanish, Hernandez said.
In addition to its large size, El Cachudo also has a spicy kick due to the homemade voodoo habanero salsa.
“As for the spicy level, you only need to pour a few drops [of the salsa] on a taco to give it a spicy kick; a little goes a long way!” Hernandez said in an email. “As you may know, an habanero chiles are even hotter than thai peppers and serranos.”
Anyone brave enough to sign up for the burrito eating contest can call 703-807-0840 or email [email protected] for more information.
Guajillo will also be holding specials starting today through Sept. 19 in honor of the Mexican holiday and its anniversary. The restaurant will serve $15 El Taconayo, a build-your-own taco meal, $15 tequila and Mezcal flights and $4 Coronas and Pacificos today. On Saturday, the restaurant will serve brunch starting at 11:30 a.m. with $5 spicy margaritas, according to a press release.
The full press release, after the jump.
Restaurant entrepreneur and Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is throwing a “block party” to celebrate the opening of his three Ballston restaurants.
The event will be held at the patio at The View apartment building (4000 Wilson Blvd) on Sept. 12 from 1-4 p.m.
“The event is going to be a big party. It is a great way to experience food from all three of Mike Isabella’s Ballston restaurants, including forthcoming Yona, with live entertainment from the jazz duo The Potash Twins and DJ Toast,” said Madeline Harrington, a public relations rep for the restaurants.
Guests will be able to sample food from each restaurant at the event. There will be crispy cauliflower and barbecue goat tacos and Mexican corn on the cob from Pepita. From Kapnos Taverna, guests will be able to try spit roasted pork, falafel and classic Greek spreads. Yona, Isabella’s newest restaurant, will provide pork and kimchi dumplings, Japanese curry potato croquettes and Korean fried chicken.
“[There will be] great food, great drinks and lively music,” Harrington said. “A great way to say goodbye to the summer.”
Isabella’s first Arlington venture, Kapnos Taverna, opened last January. Pepita opened in the same building at the end of July, and new restaurant Yona is expected to open in late fall, she said.
Yona will be a Japanese noodles and small plates restaurant with new and traditional takes on ramen and other Asian dishes, she said.
“Mike loves the neighborhood. Both Kapnos Taverna and Pepita have been a huge success, and each concept is set up so that it doesn’t compete with the others other,” Harrington said. “Yona will be something fresh and new for Ballston, so it made sense [for him to open another restaurant].”
Why Car2Go Can’t Cross the Border — Car2Go car-sharing service is launching in Arlington on Sept. 19, but users won’t be able to drive from Arlington and park in D.C., or vice versa. The District, which also has Car2Go service, is worried about traffic congestion and a loss of parking spaces to Arlington Car2Go users. Arlington officials have also expressed concern about allowing D.C. users park on Arlington streets, but appear more receptive to opening the Car2Go border. [Washington Post]
Arlington Kid’s Letter Read on Tonight Show — As part of a “Kid Letters” segment last night, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon read a letter from Caroline, who said she lives in Arlington. Caroline had a joke for Jimmy: “Which planet is God’s favorite planet? Saturn, because he put a ring on it.” Caroline also confessed that she has a crush on Fallon. [NBC]
APS Menus Now Online — Arlington Public Schools has put its breakfast and lunch menus online. The menus allow students and parents to review detailed nutritional information and to add funds to a prepaid meal account. Today, at Washington-Lee High School, students will have the choice of a 440 calorie chicken sandwich, a 324 calorie stuffed shell and breadstick meal, or a 304 calorie autumn fruit salad. APS also has a food-focused Twitter account. [Arlington Public Schools, Nutrislice, Twitter]
Nonprofits Moving from D.C. to Crystal City — Property owner Vornado has scored another new lease in Crystal City: the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Thanks to lower office rental rates, and generous concessions, Vornado has been steadily winning nonprofit tenants and reducing its vacancy rate, which soared due to the loss of military agencies following the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan. [Washington Business Journal]
Dems Select Winning Chili — Del. Alfonso Lopez and his legislative assistant, Jason Stanford, were the big winners at Monday’s annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day Chili Cookoff. Stanford’s “Fighting 49th” chili featured ingredients from the Columbia Pike farmers market and a secret seasoning blend that was inspired by the staffer’s Louisiana roots. The chili cookoff was held this year at the Barcroft Community House, due to construction on the usual venue, the Lyon Park Community Center. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The restaurant will open in the space of the recently closed Charlie Chiang’s (320 23rd Street S.).
The new restaurant will be called Queen Ammanisa and feature Uyghur food from province Xinjiang in Northwest China, a place formerly known as Turkestan, Maimaiti explained. Uygur cuisine is being discovered in other parts of the United States, Maimaiti said, but he and his partner Fatima Baikeli are anxious to bring it to the D.C. area.
Uyghur cooking is a product of its geography and therefore is a mix of Persian and Chinese cuisines. It has kebabs and noodles “like you’ve never had before,” Maimaiti said. Lamb, mutton and beef are common in Uyghur food, as are carrots, raisins and lots of vegetables, he wrote in an email. Uyghur food is often halal too, due to the ethnic group’s predominantly Muslim culture.
As for the name, the partners had planned to name the restaurant Amannisahan, as posted on the window of the building now, which was the name of their previous restaurant in Beijing, where the suffix “han” means queen. They have decided to change it to the English translation, “Queen Ammanisa.” Queen Ammanisa was a queen and musician from the region who lived in the sixteenth century.
The owner would not reveal a specific opening date but hopes that the restaurant will be able to open mid to late fall.
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week kicks off next Monday, and 16 Arlington restaurants are listed as participating.
Restaurant Week is held from Aug. 17-23, and features restaurants from Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
Diners can enjoy a three-course lunch for $22 or a three-course dinner for $35. In most cases, the three course meal includes an appetizer, entree and dessert.
The full list of participating restaurants can be found online with links for reservations and the menus.
Here are the Arlington restaurants listed as participating, according to the RAMW website:
- Carlyle — 4000 Campbell Avenue, 703-931-0777
- Epic Smokehouse — 1330 S. Fern Street, 571-319-4001
- Fuego Cocina y Tequileria — 2800 Clarendon Blvd., 571-970-2180
- Fyve at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City — 1250 S. Hayes Street, 703-412-2762
- Jaleo Crystal City — 2250 Crystal Drive, 703-413-8181
- Kapnos Taverna — 4000 Wilson Blvd., 703-243-4400
- La Tasca — 2900 Wilson Blvd., 703-812-9120
- Liberty Tavern — 3195 Wilson Blvd., 703-465-9360
- Lyon Hall — 3100 N. Washington Blvd., 703-741-7636
- McCormick and Schmicks Seafood Crystal City — 2010 Crystal Drive, 703-413-6400
- Me Jana — 2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 140, 703-465-4440
- The Melting Pot — 1110 N. Glebe Road, 703-243-4490
- Morton’s The Steakhouse — 1750 Crystal Drive, 703-418-1444
- SER Restaurant — 1110 N. Glebe Road, 703-746-9822
- Water and Wall — 3811 N. Fairfax Drive, 703-294-4949
- Willow — 4301 N. Fairfax Drive, 703-465-8800
This year, the Arlington County Fair had something new to offer: an opening day parade.
The 39th annual fair, themed “Summer Nights and Lights,” opened yesterday. An hour after opening, the parade processed down S. Highland and 2nd Streets. Participants included local Boy and Girl Scout troops, local businesses and several local dancing groups.
Arlington dance group Alma Boliviana, founded in 1991, performed a Bolivian folkloric dance in the 90 degree heat as part of the opening procession.
Group member Gabriela Grajeda said Alma Boliviana, which marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2011, was excited when Arlington County invited them to be part of the fair’s festivities.
“It was great — we definitely want to come back next year,” Grajeda said. “And now we’re going to go enjoy the fair!”
The fair will continue through Sunday (Aug. 9). Notable upcoming events include performances by The Harlem Wizards and outdoor concerts on Saturday and Sunday, as well as daily pony rides, milking demos and piglet races, where four week-old piglets run around a small dirt track to receive a treat.
Piglet racing proprietors Rick Signor and James Caruso were enthusiastic about the fair.
“This is a great one,” Caruso said. “Everyone’s been so receptive, and the crowds are great — not just the kids, the adults are having fun too.”
D.C. Beer Week is less than two weeks away and one of its most popular events will take place in Arlington.
Local brewery DC Brau and Quarterdeck Restaurant (1200 Fort Myer Drive) are partnering to put on the “Fourth Annual D.C. Beer Week Crab Fest” on Monday, Aug. 10 from 5-10 p.m.
The fest is being billed as “the event of D.C. Beer Week,” and promises all-you-can-eat Mid-Atlantic crab, $1 DC Brau on draft and pitchers of DC Brau for $5.
Tickets cost $45, and are available online.
“$1 Drafts? $5 Pitchers? They must be insane!!!” says the festival web page. “Yes, they are! Insane with our craving for these colorful crustaceans!!! Eat til your [sic] full.”
Although the crab fest is the only event in Arlington, Beer Week has events planned for the D.C. Metro area from Aug. 9-16. The schedule kicks off with a beer tasting in Northeast on Sunday, Aug. 9. Next comes the crab fest in Arlington on Monday, followed by a beach party at the National Building Museum on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Finally, the week-long celebration of beer rounds out with two weekend events in Dupont: a beer-tasting hosted by Devil’s Backbone Brewery on Saturday, Aug. 15 and a “beer scavenger hunt” on Sunday, Aug. 16.
Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]
Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Corner Tex-Mix, a new Latin fusion restaurant in Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood, has opened at at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive.
The eatery brings the flavors of Salvadoran, Mexican, American and Mediterranean food to its tables. The restaurant is colorful, with a bright red and green walls and colorful lights hanging over the bar. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has seating both inside and outside.
“What I can say is that we’re trying to do something new in the area for the residents of Arlington with good dishes and a lot of different flavors they can come over and try,” head chef Leo Medrano said.
The food is fresh, Medrano said, with sauces and salad dressings, such as the bleu cheese or chipotle barbecue ranch, made in the restaurant daily.
Medrano recommends new patrons try one of the four salad options, but his favorite is the bib lettuce salad. The bib lettuce salad has bib lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon and blue cheese. His other favorite meal is the crab cake sandwich.
“We offer some healthy food and delicious and good quality,” Medrano said.
Medrano also has a different special plate every day, he said. His favorite dishes to create include Salmon or Mahi Mahi.
“You can mix it with fruit or vegetables,” Medrano said, “and it tastes delicious either way.”
In a press release, The Corner Tex-Mix said it will be a “a big change from the old establishment at the same location” and will bring chef-driven food to a Nauck community that “has been historically void of any good restaurants.”
Residents Getting Dominion Scam Calls, Again — Some Arlington residents are again reporting getting phony phone calls claiming to be from Dominion Power. Just in time for this week’s extremely cold weather, the scammer threatens to shut the power off unless the homeowner pays a supposedly overdue bill over the phone.
Child Sex Trafficking Case Had Arlington Connection — A Nevada man pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court yesterday to charges of prostituting women and underage girls in various states including Virginia. Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions named as a place where the man, Lenny Haskins, plied his trade as a pimp. [Reston Now]
Rosslyn Red Hot and Blue Tchotchkes Moved to N.C. — Various equipment and memorabilia from the now-closed Red Hot and Blue restaurant in Rosslyn are being moved to a new Red Hot and Blue location in Cary, N.C. The Arlington location was the barbecue chain’s first. [Triangle Business Journal]
BBC Mentions Weenie Beenie — The BBC takes a look at the mysterious D.C. food phenomenon known as the half-smoke. The broadcaster points out that the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington, which opened in 1954, may have been the first in the area to start slinging half-smokes. [BBC Travel]
Arlington 13-Year-Old is a Web Cartoonist — Arlington student Cole Goco, 13, is the cartoonist behind a surrealist web comic about a boy, a talking ice pop and a pet turtle. [Washington City Paper]
Last week, Fair Share Education Fund released a report showing eligibility for free or reduced price school lunches is growing faster in suburbs like Arlington than in cities. Although the report focused on 2010-2011, an Arlington Food Assistance Center spokeswoman confirmed the organization still saw a huge increase in Arlington families using its services for the 2014 fiscal year, which ended on June 30.
AFAC served 1,400 families each week as of July 2013, and that bumped up to 2,000 families each week by this summer, which is a 40 percent increase. That equals about 5,000 individuals every week, of which 36 percent are children.
AFAC staff believes two factors contributing to the increase were last year’s government shutdown and the reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“Last year in November, the SNAP cuts went into effect and we immediately saw an increase in the number of families coming to us,” said AFAC Director of Development Joy Myers. “The average reduction per family was $36 per month. That may not seem like a lot, but when you’re scraping to get by and every penny counts and you’re $36 short, you’re going to try to find all your resources. When they get food from us, they can take that money and pay rent or gas and electric bills, or buy medicine.”
One way AFAC is trying to combat the growing food insecurity for Arlington’s children is by expanding its Backpack Buddies program, which began serving homeless children a few years ago. This year, the pilot program will open up to children in need at four elementary schools — Barcroft, Barrett, Randolph and Carlin Springs.
Kids enrolled in the program receive food on Fridays to take home and eat on Saturday and Sunday when they’re away from school. The kids can choose to take the pre-packaged goods home in their own backpacks, or borrow one and return it on Monday. The program is anonymous to prevent embarrassing children who are signed up. AFAC volunteers drop off the food and backpacks to school cafeteria workers and that’s where kids registered with the program can pick up their weekend supplies.
“We’re trying to de-stigmatize it as much as possible for kids to get the food that they need,” said Myers. “We’re also hoping because there are so many people struggling with food insecurity who aren’t speaking out, we hope this is a way for families to hear about our other services. We don’t want anybody in Arlington going hungry.”
Children at the four schools will take home an information packet when school starts, and their parents have to register through the Arlington Public Schools Office of Food and Nutrition Services.
Although AFAC always can use monetary and food donations, it especially could use help with Backpack Buddies because the pre-packaged, microwaveable kids’ meals are more expensive than other donated items. To donate, volunteer or set up a food drive, log on to the AFAC website for more information.
Att’y General to Consider Streetcar Referendum — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) will be asked by Del. Patrick Hope (D) to weigh in on whether Arlington County has the legal authority to hold an advisory referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. County officials say they don’t have the authority, and without General Assembly approval can only use a referendum for a general obligation bond issue. [InsideNova]
County Fair Adds Pentagon City Shuttle — The Arlington County Fair this year is adding a new shuttle option. In addition to shuttles from the Arlington Career Center, Ballston Metro and the I-66 parking garage, a shuttle will now run every 30 minutes from the Pentagon City Metro station. The fair runs from Aug. 6-10. [Arlington County Fair]
Falls Church, Arlington Treasurers Are Friends — Carla de la Pava and Jody Acosta, the new interim treasurers of Arlington County and Falls Church, are lifelong friends who grew up together in Alexandria. [Falls Church News-Press]
Rand Paul Makes News at Arlington Event — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made some headlines after speaking at the Young Americans for Liberty convention in Rosslyn last night. Paul told the libertarian group that he will no longer appear on MSNBC until the network apologizes for “lousy lies” about his position on the Civil Rights Act. [CNN]
Half-Priced Cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory — The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Clarendon (and others around the country) are offering half-priced slices of cheesecake for the second day in a row today in honor of National Cheesecake Day. The restaurant chain this week got some unwelcome attention with several “Xtreme Eating awards” for its calorie-laden meals. One slice of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake alone has 1,500 calories. [Cheesecake Factory, Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) More than 40,000 attendees — a record — flooded the streets of Ballston Sunday afternoon for sunshine and lots of food and drink during Taste of Arlington, according to the event’s organizer.
Circa restaurant in Clarendon took home the day’s award for best appetizer with its Cobb lettuce wraps. The Green Spoon won the award for best entrée with its Kofte meatballs with tzatziki, spiced kale. and chickpeas. Kool Zone Ice & Treats took home the prize for best dessert.
The Ballston Business Improvement District, which organized the event, estimated that more than 25,000 ticket booklets were sold in advance. The tickets let attendees sample food from 46 restaurants, beer from a dozen breweries, and wine from Barefoot.
Festival-goers also got a chance to vote for the next restaurant that will be coming to Ballston as part of the Ballston Business Improvement District’s Restaurant Challenge. Eight chefs, competing for a year of free restaurant space in Ballston and a $275,000 interest-free loan, entered the competition as semifinalists.
Visitors voted for their favorite on their smartphones and Chef Victor Albisu and restaurateur Christina Campos were chosen as the winners. Albisu, who owns Del Campo in the District and Taco Bamba in Falls Church, served a variety of Mexican street-style food; Campos served Basque seafood stew. Albisu and Campos will compete head-to-head in June in a Top Chef-style cookoff to determine the winner of the Restaurant Challenge.
Disclosure: Ballston BID, Taste of Arlington’s organizer, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
What better way to start 2014 than with another controversial topic? Kids, food trucks, tipping; you name it, and I will take it on. Well, probably not tipping ever again. That was brutal. Point is, it’s fun to explore some of the more talked about areas of what we do. So what’s first on the list for 2014? Food allergies.
Food allergies can present the most significant challenges to successful service in a restaurant. In some cases, we are told that the literal life of a guest is being placed in our hands for the duration of the meal. No pressure, Chef. It’s hard enough for us to cook a steak medium rare some nights. It’s hard for the guest as well. To constantly have to interrogate the staff about ingredients, to always need to alter the menu and to live in constant anxiety that the kitchen got it right must be terribly stressful.
Working with customers with mild to severe to fatal allergies is something that we do on a nightly basis. In fact, it was this past New Year’s Eve in the dining room at Eventide that the idea for this column came about. Faced with a limited choice tasting menu, a guest was unsure if she would even be able to stay and eat. She informed us that she had a fatal dairy allergy and was carrying an EpiPen in her purse in case she went into anaphylactic shock. She also had a gluten allergy that while not fatal was serious.
Her dining companion’s New Year’s Eve wish was to not have to stab her friend Pulp Fiction-style as the clock struck midnight.
My answer? Let’s look at the menu and figure out how to make it work. That was not easy. We use more than our fair share of butter and there is flour in many more dishes than one might imagine. Step by step we went through the menu, consulted with Chef and tried to figure out a way to make it work on the fly.
That was an example of the most challenging situation — the menu is in front of the guest, they are stuck, and we are learning of a severe allergy as they are trying to find something to eat. It is unavoidable at times to be sure, but it can make things really tough.
On an average weekend night, we have four to five tables in the dining room that have some type of allergy. Is that on the rise? I don’t know. It seems like it, but many allergies — gluten being the primary example — have been historically undiagnosed. Regardless, it is something we deal with on a regular basis, and a conversation with some helpful tips might be a good idea. Allergy sufferers usually know exactly what they need and what they want, and they are usually very good at presenting their needs early and explicitly. However, they are not always the ones making the reservations or booking the events, so this information could be helpful for non-sufferers making the plans as well.
- Plan ahead. The earlier the information can get to the restaurant the better. You can include it in the notes when you book on OpenTable, or you can mention it when you call in. Be as specific as you are able. Exactly what the allergy is and the severity is important. If the diner has preferred substitutions, that is helpful as well. This applies to dietary choices as well as allergies (vegan, vegetarian).
- Do your homework. Everyone has menus online now. Yes, it is true that restaurants are notorious for not being completely current, but you can at least get an idea what the venue offers and what might work as a substitute in advance.
- We love the cards. Many guests arrive and hand a small card to the server that lists the allergies. They are clear and concise, and they go right to the Chef. That eliminates the potentially dangerous opportunity that something might be lost in translation.
- Be clear about the severity. By all means be overcautious, but also be conscious that there is a very big difference between a fatal shellfish allergy and a mild intolerance to cilantro. Restaurants should take all allergies seriously and honor all requests that they can, but if you overstate the severity, you could limit what you can have. With a fatal allergy, we will often rule out serving you any dish or ingredient that has been in the vicinity or even the same floor as the potential offender. With a mild allergy, we might just have to remove a garnish.
- Be a little patient with the kitchens. If we hear in advance that you are coming, there is a better chance we can come up with something more interesting for you. If we hear about it the moment of, there is only so much the kitchen can do. Also, sometimes in order to cover ourselves, if there is the slightest chance of any contamination, and there is a fatal allergy, we might just say “sorry, we can’t do such and such.” It’s the last thing anyone in the hospitality business wants to do, but sometimes we might not be able to accommodate a request.