Eating out for lunch is a wee bit difficult, because I work in an industrial area, and there aren't very many restaurants close enough to make it there and back in an hour, and even less of them have gluten-free options.
But when my friend asks if I want to make a lunch date, how can I say no?
I had recently eaten at the best GF places in the area, so I did some UrbanSpoon research, and suggested Opa!
The North Industrial location opened recently, within the last month I think. As such, there weren't very many reviews on UrbanSpoon, but they were rated gluten-free friendly, and the company's website had a small, limited gluten-free menu posted.
The lunch hour was crazy busy, with a line all the way back to the door from the moment I walked in until I left to go back to work. When I got to the front of the line, I told the girl that I had a gluten allergy. She immediatly pulled out a gluten-free menu, and I quickly ordered off of that. I also asked if she could make note that it was an allergy, and she enthusiastically nodded and pushed a bunch of buttons.
I ordered a small greek salad, a lamb souvlaki and a chicken souvlaki. Since my friend ordered before me, when she was called up to select what went on her wrap, I followed to watch how they made my food.
The girl at the counter (a different girl from the till) handled my friend's pita, touching the wrap itself with her gloves, and after handing it off, she pulled out a plate and spooned some salad onto it. I was bothered that she didn't change her gloves, but I didn't want to be that person so I didn't say anything, until a piece of lettuce fell off the plate onto the crumby counter and she picked it up with her gloves and put it back on my plate.
I stepped forward. "Is that the greek salad?"
"Could you actually change your gloves?"
"It's an allergy. Could you change your gloves?"
She looked the the slip of paper in front of her that I knew had my order on it and rolled her eyes. "You want me to remake this?" She looked a little indignant, and I felt bad, but I nodded. She tossed the small salad in the garbage, and slowly changed her gloves. Then she went through the same process of spooning out my salad and added two skewers of meat on top.
A couple more things bothered me, but I let them drop.
First of all, she didn't wipe down the counter or use a fresh spoon. Two small things that would make a big difference to me. Second, while spooning out my second salad, she asked her coworker to start making the next pita (since, you know, changing her gloves really put her back...).
So here are my problems with this restaurant... They have a gluten-free menu, and the girl at the till understood and seemed positive about an allergy, so I was hopeful. I thought that if she is knowledgeable and helpful, surely I'll be fine, right? Wrong. The people making the food have clearly not been trained on how to handle an allergy, which I would expect from a restaurant that rates itself as gluten-free friendly on UrbanSpoon.
I mean, sure. It's not 100% gluten-free and I'm taking a risk, and blah blah blah, but a business needs to train their food handlers on how to handle an allergy. What if it was an anaphylactic allergy like garlic or nuts? Would she have taken it seriously? Honestly, I doubt it. And that's a major health concern.
Oh, and I got sick. Yep, changing her gloves wasn't enough. I have my headache, fogginess, stomach pains and all the other wonderful symptoms that go along with accidentally consuming gluten. I'm sad, but I don't think I'll be able to go back to Opa! again.
However, my friend thouroughly enjoyed her pita/wrap thing, and the restaurant was clean, quick and delicious. If you eat gluten-free because of a preference, or if you don't care to eat gluten-free, I would reccomend this place. However, if you have an allergy of any sorts, I wouldn't bother going here. If you absolutely have to, maybe call ahead and ask about their allergy procedures...