Friday, July 13, 2012

Making it Clear

Just when you think you have it covered... you really don't.  We have a local sushi place in walking distance from our house.  Sabuku Sushi  on Adams.  It is really very good.  The fish is amazingly fresh and the sushi chef is quite proud of this and does some pretty interesting rolls.   Now, for someone with Celiacs, sushi is a mixed bag of delight and possible disaster.  On Saturday we encountered both.

When Libby surprised us a few months ago and said she wanted to try (yet again) sushi we jumped at the chance.  Eleri has always liked fish and loves (gulp!) a good California roll.  Libby not so much.  Hugh and I had been to Sabuku twice before on our own.  Once when they first opened (not impressed) and then a few months ago (very impressed!).  It seems they needed a little time to get their bearings and service up to a professional level. We inquired as to whether they would/could accommodate allergies, in particular Celiacs and gluten intolerance.  We were told yes.  The chef was very sure of his commitment to providing for 'special' diets.

We took Libby and made a point of saying "Celiacs", "NO gluten" and all of the words that keep Libby safe.  She ordered a bowl of rice topped with sliced avocado and the server offered that maybe she could have an avocado and cucumber roll.  Absolutely!  They brought over a well marked vessel of tamari which is the Celiacs go-to because soy sauce contains gluten and is an absolute no-no.  Tamari is naturally GF.  They knew this.  Feeling good here.  Starting to relax.  Libby happy.  Eleri happy with her CA roll.  Hugh and I very happy eating our really, really fresh sushi.  So it became a safe restaurant for us.

Then came last Saturday.  Same routine.  Sit down.  Play with the maddeningly hard to use metal chopsticks.  Drink the lovely cucumber water they bring in a huge carafe to the table.  Then the never before seen server comes over.  He mumbles something we think is some sort of greeting.  We greet him back with a hearty "hmmmphjjl."  He smiles.  We smile.  I tell him about Libby's need to have her meal gluten free.  He smiles and nods.  I say twice  "this is a very serious allergy (thinking Celiac wouldn't mean much to him) and please be sure the chef knows." More hmmmphjjl-ing.

We order.  The rice bowls come finally and they look great.  We remind him about the tamari.  Then out come the girl's rolls... on the same plate!  Eleri's gluten laden CA roll (the crappy crab has gluten) and Libby's GF roll... sitting right next to each other.  I just stare at it.  I am trying to decide if this is okay.  It clearly is not from everything I read and what her doctor has said.  Cross contamination is just not worth the risk.

I call the server (generous term here) over and tell him the problem.  He is stumped.  I am getting annoyed.  He takes it back to the chef.  I can see the chef is a little annoyed as he pitches the roll in the trash.  Hugh is now really annoyed so up he gets and talks to the owner who happened to be there.  It didn't go especially well at first but only because Hugh's delivery was possibly a bit on the offensive and the owner's was a little on the defensive.  Both are understandable.

The chef looked over at me during this exchange, to where the girls and I sat a table, and said "it's no problem!" He said that now that he understood the severity, then he would use the separate board and knife he uses for gluten free rolls.  If he had known she had Celiacs, he would have been more vigilant.  Now everyone is looking at us.  ugh!  Libby keeps asking what is wrong.  This is precisely what we strive to avoid.  A scene that centers around one of our children. I quietly thanked the chef from my seat and he said 'just tell me next time.'  I said, again quietly, that I had indeed told the server.  Chef said "ok, if I had known then..." Again, I said, from my seat, that I did tell the server!  Then the owner came over to make it right.  Hugh apologized for his delivery and owner apologized for his initial reaction.  Everyone falling all over themselves making nice.   Libby just simply said  "why can't someone just tell me what is going on?"

Sweet little girl just wants to eat some rice!

As we walked out of the restaurant the chef looked up and smiled and said "next time i'll know!"  And next time I will make it very clear that we have a daughter who has Celiac disease.

1 comment:

  1. I'm quite sure that I would have reacted much like Hugh. A server can sneeze on my salad and I'm relatively unfazed but don't mess with my babies.