Another gluten-free blogger that I read wrote about a bad experience he had at Cheeseburger in Paradise. He titled the entry “Cheeseblunder in Paradise”. We experienced a “Cheeseblunder in Paradise” today as well. This happened to be the Hilliard location.
We met some family there after touring the Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory (post re-cap to follow). We placed our order and the place was virtually empty. This was surprising because it was lunch hour on a weekday. While we did let the manager know that there were 2 gluten-free orders and he did follow them through, the service was extremely slow. Jon ordered a salad, cheeseburger & fries; I ordered the mahi mahi sandwich (sans buns and not blackened), veggies (which I told would be a medley & ended up being just broccoli) and a salad. My mahi mahi was horribly overcooked. I don’t know what was going on there today, but for the amount of people that were in the restaurant, there was no reason for our food to take that long and for my fish to be that overcooked. I even had my Dad try the fish to make sure that it wasn’t just me and he completely agreed. When we were finally checked on by the server, I let her know. She did offer to have it re-made, but by that time we had waited plenty long enough & having the fish re-made or ordering something else was out of the question. The manager also stopped by and they did take it off my bill, it is just frustrating. I did eat the broccoli, salad, some of Jon’s fries and some dark chocolate, but not the meal I ordered. There are too many restaurants out there now offering gluten-free options to continue to frequent places that can’t get it right, regardless if it is a gluten issue or another issue.
Edited to add:
Ben, from Cheeseburger in Paradise commented below regarding this experience. Here is my response to Ben:
I apologize for taking so long to respond. I really wanted to think about my response to your comment on my blog.
The specific incident that I blogged about was not a gluten faux pas, but a general failure in customer service. One would think that at lunch hour, there would be plenty of speedy service taking place, as most people only have 1 hour for lunch. And not only speedy service is expected, but being staffed appropriately as well. On the day we dined at CIP, the restaurant was dead. There really was no reason for our service to take as along as it did, unless mistakes were made in the kitchen that we were not made aware of. Overcooked fish, a different vegeatable than was ordered, though still gluten-free, no one checking back in the expected time frame, all contributed to the less than acceptable experience.
Now, there have been several other incidents when we have dined at CIP where our gluten-free food order has come out with buns on the burgers or chicken. We used to dine at CIP at least once a week for well over a year or 2, but have since stopped doing so. The reasons isn’t necessarily due to gluten-free issues, but you get tired of eating the same thing over & over. The one problem that seemed to be consistent was salads that were ordered had gluten-containing wontons in them. Dressings were on the side or salad and there would frequently be other items from the line in the dressing (wontons, which aren’t gluten-free is a huge concern). A way to avoid that is to get all gluten-free dressings straight from the container in the walk-in. Also, better education for the staff on gluten-free dining and how to avoid cross-contaimination since you have a gluten-free menu. There has been such a huge increase in the number of people following this diet due to the increased diagnosis of Celiac Disease AND the number of places that offer a gluten-free menu. To keep comptetive with those other eateries, you need to make sure that your staff is knowledgeable & consistent regarding the menus & diet. Just because a person has to follow a gluten-free diet shouldn’t mean they have to settle on less than desirable food & experiences. This diet is not a diet that is followed by choice (like Atkins or South Beach), it is a diet that is followed out of necessity for health & wellness.
I love the concept of CIP and would love to continue to keep it on my list of places to dine, but I have to honest, the service that we had was not overly convincing to return any time soon.