In a recent trip back to America I was put in two different situations where I had to eat at Shari’s, which is not a restaurant I would normally choose to go to because it is not a very healthy (or delicious) option and unless I’m in a bind or going to a restaurant of someone else’s choosing, those two things (health and yum) are important factors when picking a meal for me. Except the first time I went I was going with my grandparents and they were excited about it, so Shari’s it was.
Now, I’m going to preface this post with this: I have since written to Shari’s and complained about the terrible service we had. They replied with a generic email saying “sorry you are not pleased, and we realise you have a choice of where to eat.” Which, in my opinion was just not good enough considering the level of terrible service and risk that it could have put someone with celiac disease in. Which, is me…
So when I found out we were going to Shari’s I googled their menu and was surprised to find out they had a gluten free menu! So when it came to ordering I asked for the menu and the waitress pretty much just said no. I said that I had googled it so I knew there was one, and she promptly came back with it. I was so excited to see so many things listed there! I felt this incredible sense of happiness that they had gone into so much detail on the menu and noting where all the food allergies were! And since I was in America, I ordered nachos (which is not paleo I realise, but bare with me. It was gluten free and I was feeling nostalgic about American food since I live in New Zealand). Anyway, I ordered it happily and then continued to eyeball the menu, just soaking in the level of care they had put into this.
… It’s been my experience that some restaurants think something is gluten free if it doesn’t have bread. Or, for example, if you order a gluten free pizza you end up with a gluten free base but with gluten in the rest of it. So I’ve learned to be extra cautious and ask about everything. So, I decided to ask about the cheese (cause if it was pre-shredded from a bag then it would almost certainly have gluten in it. It’s in that powder that keeps the shredded bits from sticking to each other). The waitress went to check in the kitchen and then came back to say it was pre-shredded from a bag. So I changed my order to the steak and eggs, which had no sauce or flavouring at all except: steak and eggs. So I felt safe there… It was certainly a microwaved steak and kinda terrible, but it was Shari’s, what did I expect?
It doesn’t matter that I managed to get a successful paleo meal when you consider the fact that they clearly had something filled with gluten on a menu designating it gluten free. If they are going to have a gluten free menu then they need to actually make an effort to make it accurate. What if I didn’t catch it? When you go out to eat you are putting your trust in them that they have paid close enough attention not to poison you…
That was the first time I went to Shari’s on my trip and was at the King City Shari’s… The second time was a much less successful event and is the reason I wrote the email to their headquarters to complain. This second event happened at the Shari’s on Hall Blvd in Beaverton.
So, this second time I went because we got snowed into our neighbourhood and so my Mom and I walked to Shari’s for a little snow day date. When we got there, there were very few people in the restaurant… I asked for the gluten free menu and the waitress said that she didn’t know where it was (weird that this keeps happening), however, she came back with it shortly after. I picked something a bit safer this time, having learned from the last experience. I wanted the omelette that came with Pepper Jack cheese since we don’t get that cheese in New Zealand. So, I asked her if the cheese came in a pre-shredded bag, or was it sliced there, noting that I was celiac and will get very sick if I have gluten and this is one place gluten sneaks in. If she said it was from a bag then I’d be totally cool, and just say “no worries, I’ll get that without the cheese then.”
Except, what happened is she stood there and said “I don’t know,” and just stared at me blankly. I prodded trying to get her to actually go back and check on it, but she held firm with “I don’t know.” Before I could ask her to go in the kitchen and check for me, she said “You need another minute” and promptly turned around and walked away from us. Right in the middle of me talking…
15 minutes passed and we hadn’t seen her… People who had been seated after us started getting their food…
Another 10 minutes passed and still she was no where to be seen. Waitresses taking people’s orders all around us but nothing for us. My Mom said “she’s ignoring us on purpose.” So I got up to grab the attention of the firsst waitress I could and they said they’d try and get her for us… We waited another 10 minutes before we saw her again… If it wasn’t for the snow we would have left… People who had arrived after us were getting up to pay.
When she finally showed back up, she approached saying “I’m sorry, I thought you needed more time,” with a tone that suggested she was in the right to ignore us for 30 minutes or so. I replied saying that I was ready to order when she was here before, but she walked away before I was able to place that order. My order is simple and if you don’t know whether or not the thing might have gluten in it, then I just cut it out. Simple as that… I’ll have the omelette without the cheese. She kinda went, “oh!” surprised that I spoke up to her, and then went off to place the orders.
A moment later she could be heard saying “I’ll just put this gluten free menu riiiight heeeere, so that I NEVER lose sight of this again!” Said with such an incredibly rude and sarcastic/uncalled for tone that I turned to her and said “rude” so that she could hear me. She was only a few feet away… Then I turned to my Mom and said “we are going to get spit in our food.”
I feel that she was ignoring us because I wanted gluten free. This kind of treatment is not appropriate for any waitress, but when it comes to the health of the public, this is appalling. Whatever her beef with gluten free is, I don’t give a crap. If I had a peanut allergy would she treat it with the same carelessness? If Shari’s are going to have a gluten free menu at all, then they need to educate their staff on what gluten free is; they need to help the wait staff understand what items are actually gluten free; and if that’s too much to ask, then at least do the research and indicate one or two items on the menu as gluten free so that you take the thinking out of the process. Rather than handing out a false list of 20 things that are probably not.
I give Shari’s a big thumbs down for gluten free and therefore, paleo. And since their food isn’t that good either, I think you’re better off going to any other restaurant in the Portland area just for the sheer fact that most of Portland is gluten free friendly these days and that this type of thing shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.
Posted by: Paleo Plate Raider