Friday, March 7, 2008

Book Review: The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide

Triumph Dining sent me a review copy of their third edition of "The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide, 2008-2009" and overall it is a very good reference.

The book is organized into clear sections: The first details practical advice to avoid being glutened when dining out. Not all of these ideas are obvious, common-sense strategies and I absorbed some new ways to communicate our family's special diet needs in different kinds of restaurants.

The second section makes up the bulk of the book and is a state-by-state listing of restaurants that at the very least are aware of gluten-free diners' needs and can offer up something more than just a "hold the croutons" attitude. The publisher notes whether a gluten-free menu is available, whether specific gluten-free baked goods or pastas are on hand, and offers a guide about entree prices. This second part includes chain restaurants as well as individually owned restaurants and special notes are included where managers and owners offer tips about gluten-free specialties or the need to call ahead for certain dishes.

The final section of the book details menu items from chain restaurants that are gluten-free, although there is always the need to confirm that dishes are prepared in a gluten-free manner and that ingredients and suppliers have not changed since the publication of this book. Chains from Taco Bell to Cold Stone Creamery to Panera Bread Company are included.

This book is a great resource for business travelers and families who travel a lot so that they can save time and anxiety and focus on other things. The restaurants with gluten-free dining options are mostly centered in larger cities and this book will be most useful for trips to these urban centers. I was pleased to see several restaurants from our corner of upstate New York included in the book, including Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe in Brunswick and will be advising the publishers of several more eateries which can be added to the next edition. No doubt I will be dogearing and annotating this book quite a bit when we are on the road.

The book can be ordered on Triumph Dining's website for $23.95. They also feature a gluten-free grocery guide and dining cards tailored to restaurants of various cuisines to help make ordering safe and healthy.

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