Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Clyde Common Restaurant Review

What a difference a server makes.

I like Clyde Common.  The food has always been amazing, and their mixed drinks are equally amazing.  I still remember the first time I went there.  It was New Year's Eve, and for some reason the mood struck me to get a Bloody Mary.  I almost never order that drink - it's usually too sweet or salty for me.  Well, this one was made from a chili sauce.  It was spicy and perfect.
 Another reason to like Clyde Common is that many of their dishes are gluten-free without having to make substitutions.  They aren't trying for it; they are just really high-end.  The food is cheffy, which typically means they don't rely on a lot of wheat products.  Wheat is boring and mundane, after all.  Gluten is passé. 

So I took a gluten-free friend to Clyde Common this winter.  We got our fancy cocktails and we checked out the dinner menu.  There were several things that looked doable as a gluten-free dish.  I told our server about our dietary restraints and then said we had picked out a few things that we thought would work gluten-free, and he should let us know if any of it wouldn't work.  (Caveat: this is not my typical strategy, nor is it the best one for informing the server of a food allergy.)

The place was crowded, so we waited a while for the food to arrive.  Once it did we were pretty hungry.  However, I looked at my plate and suddenly doubted my choice.  Everything seemed saucier than I imagined from the description.  As you can imagine, sauce is something that strikes my heart with fear.  I caught my server's eye and asked him if he was sure that everything we had been served was gluten-free?  He got this blasé expression on his face and told me, "Well, I think everything should be gluten-free."

Then I gave him this look.  Internally, I was formulating my response.  However, a verbal response proved unnecessary.  My look said it all.  My look said, "Do you really expect me to eat something at your restaurant that could make me sick?"  Suddenly, before I could verbalize my thought, the server got a stricken expression on his face.  He was suddenly scared of me.  He quickly pulled himself together and blurted out that he would go talk to the chef and double-check!

He was right back.  He assured us that he had consulted with the chef and that everything was 100% gluten-free.  He seemed really relieved that he hadn't given me reason to cause him bodily harm.  We indulged heartily in our winter repasts.

I wasn't very impressed by that customer/server interaction, so I didn't go back for several months.  Then, the other day I happened by there and remembered that they usually had several things I could eat.  My plan A had fallen through, so I decided to go for it.  They had a beautiful chilled celery soup that they served without croutons to make it gluten-free.

 They also have some snacks like almonds and olives I could eat.
And the server was very, very helpful.  I will be going there again.  It was delicious.

Have you been to Clyde Common?  What was your experience?


EcoKT said...

I've never been to Clyde Common, but I completely know that feeling when a server says he or she 'thinks' it 'should' be gluten free. Many people treat the dietary requests of celiacs as if these are preferences (like vegetarianism) rather than critical needs. Luckily, awareness is growing, particularly in Portland. It's great that the other server knew how to respond to your needs without requiring the stare-down ;-)

Gina said...

Awareness is certainly growing, and I rarely get a blank stare when I bring it up in Portland. I try to do my part educating the food establishments in the area about the gluten-free diet. It's getting better!