An in-depth review of eating gluten free at Crave. This review is entirely my own opinion and from personal experiences, and is meant to be a guide. When choosing a gluten free restaurant, please use caution according to your individual needs.
As much as I love trying gluten free menus at local restaurants, we don’t seem to have that many around here. So, if you’re like me, a chain restaurant might be one of your only or more frequent options.
I just recently celebrated my birthday! And while I was excited to celebrate with friends and family, it can sometimes be hard to find a place that everyone will enjoy – and that is Celiac safe. I absolutely love Big Bowl, as you can read about in my review, but I don’t always want to go to the same place. Crave had just opened a new location closer to us, and I had dined successfully at a different location of theirs in the past, so I thought it would give it a try again for my birthday (consistency is the key when it comes to Celiac-friendly restaurants).
Crave is a chain restaurant that serves American food, but also has a full sushi bar. They have locations in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Maryland, Nevada, and Nebraska, and have a wide variety of dishes and appetizers on their menu to cater to everyone. They do have a gluten free menu, although you should be aware that they label it as “gluten sensitive” instead. If you are gluten free by choice, they have great lunch and dinner menus with many different options. If you have Celiac Disease, be ready to go through your normal procedure of asking questions to the manager on duty (I personally interrogate them).
Their menu is labeled gluten sensitive because there is a possibility of cross-contamination with certain dishes, although the manager on duty was very kind in explaining that up-front to me. He explained that they do everything they can to limit cross-contamination and do take allergies and Celiac Disease seriously, and went through the gluten sensitive menu with me to help me make the best decision. Here is what I found out:
- The rice noodles they use are stored in a main bin/container that they take from when making each dish. Because some of the gluten-containing dishes do have rice noodles as an option, I didn’t know if there would be any cross-contamination when using utensils to take out portions, so I opted out this time since they were a new location. However, I have ordered two different pasta dishes off that menu with no reaction in the past.
- Their meat is grilled on an actual grill, not a flat top, and so are their “grilled veggies.” I was told that no buns or gluten-containing ingredients are ever put on that grill, and that the utensils used are solely for that purpose, so I figured that would be my safest choice.
In the end, I ordered a wonderful filet mignon with grilled broccolini (it was my birthday, after all). In comes with mashed potatoes, but I opted out of that since I don’t know what they put in it and if the utensils going in the pot would be contaminated. My steak was cooked perfectly, and cut like butter. Highly impressed!
Since going for my birthday, I have gone back to the same location a second time with success. I ordered the lemon garlic chicken with root vegetable hash, and did opt for the mashed potatoes this time. The manager remembered me, and assured me that he would talk to the kitchen staff to make sure they took care of me again. Although the kitchen isn’t gluten free and there can be cross-contamination (as at most other restaurants), the staff there always seems to be very willing to cater toward allergy or other food requests.
Overall, we had some great tasting meals and I did not get sick even a bit. As I said before, I have had some of their pasta dishes too and have been just fine. However, remember that with any chain comes variation in restaurant staff and management. I’ve heard some people have not so great experiences with the gluten sensitive menu (mostly when ordering sushi or appetizers), but so far I have had nothing but good ones. Check with your specific location to see if Crave is right for you.