I was excited to try out the new Gluten-Free Menu at Bertucci’s now that they’ve joined the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) , but unfortunately this visit was very disappointing. It took over 5 minutes for our server to come over to take our drink order (on a very slow night), and then when I placed my order (GF Balsamic Chx) the chicken came out VERY burnt on the bottom, that I had to cut the bottom part off to eat it. This is not the part that worries me, although it added to my annoyance by the time this next part happened.
My meal came out with asparagus, not green beans as the menu stated. So when I inquired to the waiter, he said that they were out of green beans. So I asked for another GF vegetable instead, which he offered broccoli. When the broccoli came out, I ate a piece, and it tasted and smelled like pasta, so I called the waiter back over, and asked how the broccoli was prepared- if it was steamed or cooked in a water that is also used to cook pasta in. When he told me that it is cooked in pasta water I was extremely upset- because of course that makes the broccoli NO LONGER GLUTEN-FREE! I immediately asked to speak to a manager. When the manager came over, he was hardly apologetic and said "this GF is new to us", not even a "I am sorry that you will become ill from this". I hardly complain at restaurants, and this time was mainly doing so to help EDUCATE the staff about how to properly prepare gluten-free meals- and I do love the fact that Bertucci’s, a chain restaurant, is working with GFRAP and is now offering a GF menu, but felt I had to comment on the lack of response to this from the staff. I have gotten "mistakes" before, but the wait staff/managers ALWAYS are extremely apologetic and try to rectify it immediately, which did not happen at the Westbury Bertucci’s location. (Even when I mentioned that I write a LI blog about GF, as well as am a board member with Suffolk Celiacs!) When leaving the manager said "we'll get it right"- I sure hope so, so that others don't get extremely sick as well. Cross contamination issues with how food is prepared Gluten-Free is JUST as important as the ingredients in each of the items! I do intent do go back to Bertucci's and try it again, but next time will be much more cautious in ordering.
What is worrisome is that even though they are now a member of GFRAP, it appears that they are not fully trained. My main concern was their lack of concern... like when I go to a plcace like Outback, and the rare chance that something goes awry, the manager is there quickly to apologize, make corrections, and offer free dessert. (not that I was looking for a free dessert- ha ha- but he didn't even offer AND left the contaminated broccoli on the table when he walked away!)... then the best part... when the waiter came back, he said "are you still working on those, or do you want me to wrap them?"... DUH!!! did you not just hear what I spoke to you AND your manager about?!
ps- the dessert I did order, the Bomba which is "Vanilla and chocolate gelato wrapped in chocolate with almonds and a red heart of maraschino cherry. Served open with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce"- was the best part of the meal.
1/27/10 UPDATE: I went back last week, and had a GOOD experience! The manager there said they have learned a lot and are making sure to prepare the foods safely GF! I was very excited to see that they are taking this seriously and are making sure to correct any errors that have been made. The more we dine at Bertuccis, the better they will become at knowing how to prepare GF foods, so make sure to visit them and continue to help "train" them. I am very greatful for another big chain to offer us a place to eat! (My husband is thrilled as well!) ;)