Having a child with severe food allergies is not something we take lightly whenever we head out to eat. In fact, we know our response time is critical to his care if he should fall ill due to a food cross-contamination, and we really don’t want to end up in the emergency room because of a food allergy. Before I ever go anywhere, we call ahead, speak to the food manager or manager on duty and then we go. I have a list of questions that I ask, presenting his allergies and double-checking even upon arrival. As you know when you get to a restaurant, the speed at which the server comes to the table to take the order and then asks if you are ready is usually at an accelerated rate, which can lend to forgetting to check and cross-check on food allergens. We made a phone call the other night to check if our son could dine with us at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Here’s my tale of lavishly living food out loud with Allergen Free Dining At BJ’s Restaurant at McCandless Crossing in McCandless Township, PA!
I might mention the first thing that I do before we ever get to a restaurant is call ahead and ask if they can actually accommodate my child who has severe food allergies that includes nuts, honey, seafood and some fruits. Once we get that out-of-the-way I know we can head there. Once we check in, and get seated I speak to the manager on duty about his food needs. The manager works with us and sometimes were even lucky enough to have a menu that shows us what options he can have. That was actually the case while we were dining at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse the other night. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse actually has an allergen free menu you can use to order, which brings them to the top of our dining list for night’s out.
The Plight of The Food Allergy
I can not explain the plight of my son’s food allergies except through maybe this visualization: We head into a restaurant that we have called ahead, he sees, platters of food passing by, and he knows he will never be able to eat all the wonderful things he smells. While it is the norm for him, it is hard being a young kid and missing out on so much that life has to offer. Fryers often have seafood in them, which takes out the possibility of anything fried and then there are the ingredients that create each recipe that often can’t be ingested. Beyond seafood, things with nuts might have entered the fryer, so we have to be very careful what comes across his lips and think about everything before ordering. Once we try to out-think it, we then discuss with the manager, so that we are certain our child will be fine. Limiting it is to be a person with one food allergy, let alone multiple. Imagine his delight when the Assistant Manager made sure he could dine on a platter of Mozzarella sticks, simply because a) we checked in ahead of time about the food allergies and b) BJ’s cares about all of its patrons from young to old!
The sticks are perfectly cooked Mozzarella Sticks, and come with a dipping marinara. The inside of the sticks were melted just to the point of being stretching without being overdone! My son ate the appetizer quite happily.
Now it is time for my son’s salad. When we have been out, one thing that is almost always a ‘no-no’ are croutons because they can be cross contaminated. At BJ’s Restaurant there were no issues, as those croutons are fresh and nut-free! Look at this salad, it was fit for a king or in this case a little prince, lol!
There are shavings of Parmesan, crisp croutons, leafy field greens, and a balsamic dressing all things he loves. You might be wondering how you top off Mozzarella Sticks and a salad like this? With a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse pepperoni pizza of course!
This is served in what looks to be a personal pan but certainly feed two people as the crust is thick. The crest has a buttery texture to it but it’s not oily, and it’s not greasy. The cheese is melted to perfection and I would definitely compare this to any Chicago Deep Dish pizza. The underneath was cooked perfectly, and all of the pieces were cut evenly so there was no choosing the smallest piece.
Dessert could have been a scoop of ice-cream but my son was so full that he could eat no more. I’d truly like to thank the staff at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for providing my son with an allergen-free dining experience that just made his night. We thank you for caring and taking care of us and all of your patrons that have food allergies. That’s my tale of lavishly living food out loud with Allergen Free Dining At BJ’s Restaurant at McCandless Crossing in McCandless Township, PA!
*Please note, ALLERGEN FREE as referred to throughout this blog entry is based on my son’s particular food allergies. As allergies differ from person to person it is imperative you personally speak to the manager and explain your personal set of food allergies. The article is based on our personal experience with dining at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, yours may differ.