I’ve been meaning to take a picture of this restaurant ever since I saw it from the IKEA parking lot across the street. I finally did, and also finally went there for lunch. It’s pretty good. They sell T-shirts that play even more on the name.

Anyway, the next time someone tells you “There’s No Pho King Way!” you can tell them that yes, there is, in Carson, California.

If you have food allergies, dining out is always a risk. We had a close call our first night in Chicago on a family vacation last month.

After a long day of travel, we got settled into our hotel room and went down to one of the hotel restaurants for a late dinner. It was a Sunday evening, around 9:30, and while the front desk had assured us that the restaurant was open until 11, that turned out to only be half true. The restaurant entrance was blocked off, but the kitchen was serving the full menu to a shared seating area that you entered through the bar.

We’d been concerned about finding food for our not-quite-two-year-old son. Kids’ menus are awfully limited these days, and very heavy on cheese, which he can’t eat. Chicken nuggets are fine once in a while, but only go so far on a ten-day trip. So we were pleasantly surprised to see a Sunbutter, jelly and banana sandwich on the kids’ menu. Because of my severe peanut allergy, we keep peanuts out of the house, so Katie goes to sunflower seed butter and almond butter for toast and sandwiches, and J loves it so much he’ll demand a taste if she’s eating it. Score!

After a very long wait, the waitress finally brought the sandwich, dropped it off saying, “Here’s your PBJ,” and left.

Wait, PBJ?

Katie tasted it, and it was in fact peanut butter.

Red alert mode engaged!

As I mentioned, I’m severely allergic to peanuts. We don’t know yet whether J is, but we didn’t want to risk finding out in a hotel in a strange city thousands of miles from home.

The waitress seemed a bit confused by the issue when we finally got her attention (all the while trying to find other things we could feed an increasingly-cranky toddler who thought he was finally going to eat), and we had to point out that yes, the menu specifically said Sunbutter.

They did take the sandwich off the bill, and replaced it with a plain jelly-and-banana sandwich. But it put us on alert for the rest of the week.

The really disturbing thing was that it wasn’t just any sunflower seed butter listed on the menu, but a specific brand, one whose purpose is to be a safe alternative for people who are allergic to peanuts. That’s like telling a diabetic that you have Clemmy’s sugar-free ice cream and handing them Ben and Jerry’s. Or giving someone Everclear to help with their dehydration.

We lucked out, because Katie caught it before J could eat any of it. Really, the restaurant dodged a bullet too: They could have served it to a family with a confirmed allergic child. Imagine how blindsided they’d be when someone silently replaced a peanut-free food with peanuts. Continue reading

I’m not sure who annoys me more:

  • The people who think that those of us who have food allergies are all a bunch of whining hypochondriacs and/or drama queens who just want attention, and the tiny percentage who really do have allergies shouldn’t expect to ever eat outside the home, or…
  • The people who lie about having allergies because they’re afraid that “I don’t like this ingredient” won’t get the point across, thereby convincing the jerkwads that they’re right.

Remind me not to read these kinds of articles. And especially not the comments on them. And especially not the ratings on the comments.

Inside Scoop SF » When it comes to diners’ dietary demands, how much is too much?

Originally posted on Google+

Just a few miles away from Incredible Cafe.

I wonder if they have a rivalry of sorts?

And I can’t help but imagine a third competing restaurant called Incredibly Fantastic Cafe…and another called Fantastically Incredible Cafe…

For the record: I ate there and had a grilled ham & cheese sandwich with seasoned fries, and it was good enough but nothing special. The place gave me the impression that someone had bought a Carl’s Jr. and turned it into something more like a Denny’s. Fantastic Cafe (not Incredible Cafe) appears to be a local chain in the South Bay area.

There’s a TV on the wall of the crepe cafe where I’m having lunch, bigger than the TV I have at home. Right now it’s showing a live view of the kitchen. This might be more interesting if the kitchen weren’t open to the dining area. I can see the same thing (from another angle) just by turning my head. #