I love to go out to eat. I enjoy indulging in foods I didn’t have to cook myself or perhaps wouldn’t know how or want to bother cooking. I enjoy conversation over a good meal. And I enjoy the opportunity to try new things.
Since I began following the auto-immune protocol, going out to eat has basically been off the table for me. For one reason, it’s really inconvenient. Although there is fast food out there that I can eat, it involves so much research and is so restrictive that it generally seems like even if I CAN eat there, it’s not worth the hassle. For another, eating out is expensive. I don’t mind paying well for a good meal, but if you can only eat half of what you’re paying for and are limited to one or two dishes, is it really worth the expense? And finally, after two months of Whole30 AIP, I am working on reintroductions. Because restaurants bring an extra element of risk to the table, combining reintroductions with dining out isn’t recommended.
Nevertheless, I have wanted to eat out, at least occasionally. There’s a sense of normalcy to being able to go to a restaurant and order off a menu. And socially, it’s just fun!
So, here are the four places I have eaten out recently and how I approached them. I’m happy to say they were all really successful. (I also tried a decaf coffee one night at McDonald’s and quickly realized that made my body miserable. Oops. It’s a question mark for AIP.) I suggest you always call first to talk to the kitchen about your allergies and needs, and I suggest erring on the side of caution with any unknown ingredients. As always, tip well!
Greek Dining at Amphora, Derry, NH
I ate at Amphora early in my Whole30 (really a Whole60). I adore this restaurant and their chef, and he insisted on calling me to talk about my options for eating there. Ultimately I went with one of their delicious salads and added grilled shrimp. He told me anything on the grill that wasn’t marinated would work. I had to leave off the stuffed grape leaves, tomatoes, feta, pita and banana peppers of course and replace the dressing with olive oil. This left me with green lettuce, artichokes, kalamata olives, onions and shrimp. Not the most exciting meal ever (and I was hungry a little before the 4 hour mark) but it was nice to have a tasty meal with my family at one of my favorite places. Next time I might be brave and try the lamb.
Breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor, Sugar Hill, NH
This would have been the hardest one for me if I didn’t psych myself up for amazing company and come prepared to just munch on fruit and eat when I left. In reality, it took a lot of discussion with the server (and the kitchen had to redo my burger when they accidentally put cheese on it) but I had a tasty, if very expensive, breakfast with plenty of leftover fruit.
Normally my order at Polly’s involves three types of pancakes with mixins and lots of syrup and maple cream. Occasionally an egg on the side. This time, I began by ordering herbal tea. I also got a burger on lettuce with onions and mushrooms cooked in olive oil. They threw in a couple of carrots too. They offered pickles but I was afraid they might have sugar or spices I couldn’t eat. My fruit was expensive at $5.95 before tax but it came out in a goblet and I ended up getting three servings out of it! Fresh strawberries, blueberries and bananas, so delicious. Now that I’ve reintroduced maple I could have more fun here, but it was very doable even without it.
Gordi’s Fish & Steakhouse, Lincoln, NH
I went here with my family and knew we’d be paying a lot, but I was eager to try some seafood and the kitchen had lots of options that would work for me. I ended up going with a 1 lb. lobster! They offered steamed broccoli as a substitute for the veggie of the day and I was amazed to see a baked sweet potato on the menu. They also made me an olive oil and lemon mix for the lobster but I really didn’t need it.
This meal was absolutely perfection. It was such a treat and the first time I’ve been able to get everything I was paying for! Nothing excluded. So incredible and worth it. The sweet potato might have been the best I have had. After, we went out to ice cream and I had brought my own dried banana and date rolls so I got an indulgence while they ate. 🙂
Great Lost Bear, Portland, ME
Last weekend, my husband and I were in the Portland, ME area getting our culture fix. Since my brother lives in the area, we made plans to meet him and his girlfriend for dinner. She recommended Great Lost Bear, a tavern known for accommodating all types of diets.
After reading the menu and talking to them, I knew I could get a burger, so it worked for me. The burger comes with a side salad. They have lots of fun burger toppings, and I could get grilled onions and mushrooms on mine, which I loved. Unfortunately their guacamole has sour cream and Tabasco sauce (thank goodness I asked for the ingredients!) and they couldn’t do just avocado, but their side salad was also decent and I was able to get carrot, onion and broccoli on mine with oil and vinegar on the side.
The burger was presented well on lettuce too. I was super-jealous of the pulled pork nachos at our table, but I had a very filling meal. As usual, I brought date rolls and dried banana to eat as a treat afterwards.
Eating out is challenging right now, but it’s so satisfying to feel great after I leave and to enjoy the company of family and friends over a meal. I’m aware there is always a little extra risk dining out instead of cooking myself, but I’ve had great luck so far by calling and planning ahead.
Thanks for reading, and good luck in your own dining adventures!