Business lunches are a bummer for a gluten-intolerant person. Do you ask the wait staff what the gluten-free options are, thus making it a big deal? Or do you just use the menu and make an educated guess. I went to Sierra Cafe at the Viaduct today and chose to take option 2. One day I will learn!!!
Sierra in the Viaduct is the closest cafe to our office building and we frequent it regularly. We needed a place for a quick lunch yesterday so off we went. The menu is a good one, although despite my frequent suggestions, they have yet to mark options as gluten-free. Thanks to my
nagging suggestions, they have increased the number of gluten-free dishes available in the cabinet and always have at least one sweet thing, so I was pretty sure I could find something I could eat.
I was pleased to see that they now note that they offer gluten-free bread as an option. I selected a salad in a tortilla basket, which was silly of me, because I assumed it was a corn tortilla. Of course when it came out, it was a flour tortilla. I checked with the waitress, who immediately asked if I was gluten-intolerant. She offered to take the dish away, remove the tortilla and bring back the salad. I said it would be OK, and tucked in. The salad was good – surprisingly warm, but with nice roasted vegetables and was missing the advertised sun-dried tomatoes. Then I hit the noodles.
Yep, strange though it may seem, in this tortilla basket, with the warm salad, there was a bed of noodles. Noodles that were not listed on the menu. I know this, because I went and got a copy of the menu to check and there was no mention of noodles. I ate the vegetables and chicken, thought dark thoughts, but didn’t say anything (it was a business lunch after all). It was kind of a mixed-up dish really, unsure of whether it was a salad, a stir fry, a noodle dish or something vaguely Mexican.
Then the waitress came back. And the first words out of her mouth were “I’ve been talking to the chef and he is so sorry about your lunch. It doesn’t say noodles on our menu. Your lunch is on us today. And we do have a gluten-free brownie in the cabinet – would you like one of those?” I declined the brownie (on grounds of trying to eat healthily you understand!), but then when our bill came, not only had we not been charged for my lunch, they had also not charged for our coffees.
So whilst the gluten-free food was a bit of a bust, and the descriptions on the menu were really not that great, the service was top-notch. The other food looked fine and got reasonable reports from my fellow diners. But we were all impressed by the service – I hadn’t asked for any kind of recompense, had taken the responsibility for making a bad choice on my own shoulders – but they still offered to make it right, and then did so generously.
So well done Sierra at the Viaduct, Now please just sort out your menus!