Gluten-Free In Los Angeles: Daily Grill

Can I say how much I loved being at a park named for Johnny Carson? To infinity and beyond.

Can I say how much I loved being at a park named for Johnny Carson? To infinity and beyond.

Chaz tried to get Obi-Wan to go to the park before our second visit to the hospital to see Mara Jade (and Dawn and her Old Man) to run around and get some energy out but he didn’t want to go. Somehow Dawn talked him into it while we visited. So off Chaz and I went with him, leaving Mom to visit with Dawn and Mara Jade longer since Mom was returning home the next day and Dawn wouldn’t be released until she was gone.

We drove to Johnny Carson Park near the hospital in Burbank. Obi-Wan played on the playground while I watched and took pictures from the bench and Chaz hovered within arm’s reach. After ten minutes, Obi-Wan was done. He was hot and having none of it. We walked the dirt trail and when he saw the street he headed for it knowing the car was parked on the street. What he didn’t understand was it wasn’t the same street. By then, hungry was added to the list. It was well into lunchtime and he was hangry. It took some coaxing and reassurance that we knew a better way to the car before he agreed to go our way. I also let him take a few pictures with my camera…supervised hands-on of course.

Me: Obi-Wan! *camera ready* Obi-Wan: *stops & looks in my direction* Wha- Me: *snap* Obi-Wan: Why are you taking a picture of me?  Me: Because I love you!

Me: Obi-Wan! *camera ready*
Obi-Wan: *stops & looks in my direction* Wha-
Me: *snap*
Obi-Wan: Why are you taking a picture of me?
Me: Because I love you!

In the car I asked if he would eat cheese pizza because I knew I could have gluten-free pizza safely at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. He agreed, but when we arrived, Sammy’s was no more (they still have other locations, mostly in San Diego, North County, and Las Vegas). I panicked a little inside. We were on Day Three of Mommy and Daddy being at the hospital and he’d done so well, I didn’t know if this would be the one stressor to send him into a meltdown.

The dedicated gluten-free menu

The dedicated gluten-free menu

Luckily, with the help of the Find Me Gluten-Free app, I discovered another restaurant in the same center had a gluten-free menu, Daily Grill. AND they had Mac & Cheese as well as Fries on the Kids Menu. He was so hungry he wanted both. Not only did he polish of the Mac & Cheese, he ate a good portion of the Fries too. Good thing we ordered for him as soon as we sat down.

He demolished the Mac & Cheese and put a dent in the Fries.

He demolished the Mac & Cheese and put a dent in the Fries.

We were informed by our server that the restaurant just started a new menu that very day, so everything Chaz saw on his menu was different from the original. Not sure why he insisted on explaining since we told him it was our first time there. Turns out, the Gluten-Free Menu wasn’t reprinted and I wanted the Cedar Plank BBQ Salmon (because who doesn’t love Salmon cooked on a cedar plank?), which was no longer on the new menu (again, not printed). They still had some of the sauce and did the dish for me anyway. It was perfectly cooked. It came with a steamed stalk of broccoli. The whole stalk. I wasn’t fond of having to cut my broccoli off the stalk. And rice pilaf. The moist, tender salmon and delicious rice pilaf made up for the broccoli. NOTE: As of the day of this post, their Gluten-Free Menu is not updated on their website. If you are doing takeout, be diligent and ask more questions than usual. Daily Grill 5

Later in the week, Dawn wanted steak because she needed more iron. We ordered takeout from Daily Grill and the men picked it up. I ordered the New York Pepper Steak which came with mashed potatoes and had spinach mixed in like colcannon. They were good mashed potatoes, not great. But it’s not often I get to have mashed potatoes someone else makes. I thought it came with asparagus too, but I was wrong. Dawn and Chaz weren’t impressed with their asparagus. It did look wimpy. On the bright side, my steak was spot on medium.

At least something always hit the mark in our meals. Nothing hitting the mark would’ve been tragic on all fronts.

Gluten-Free In Los Angeles: In ‘N Out Burger

We were in L.A. for the birth of this little cutie….InNOut 2

I’m going to call her Mara Jade. If you know the Star Wars Expanded Universe, you know her. She was first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. She was the Emperor’s Hand; his personal executor of justice. She vows to kill Luke to avenge Palpatine. Luke does what he does best, brings her back to the Light side of the Force.

Mara entered the world on July 27th in the wee hours of the morning. We took Obi-Wan to the hospital at the start of visiting hours to meet his little sister and I wish I could have captured the smile on his face. It was big and bright. Like Tatooine’s suns.

On the way back home, I asked him what he wanted for lunch thinking I was going to get PB&J for an answer. What I got was something like this:

Obi-Wan: Weeeeell, if you’re going to go through a drive-through…

Me: *snickering before I look back* Does that mean you want us to go through a drive-through?

Obi-Wan: Weeeeell, we could go somewhere.

He’s seven and smart as a whip. He knows how to phrase things to lead you to what he wants without really saying it. Unless it’s what I heard every night after dinner that night and every night after until we left, “I need my after dinner treat.” Translation: Give me ice cream, Auntie! These are the moments that almost make me forget he has Autism.

Mom said she could go for a sandwich and she would treat. The sandwich places I knew of off the top of my head in the area are not gluten-free friendly. But In ‘N Out is! Bonus: there is one a few minutes away from the house. Not so much bonus: it seems to be packed ALL THE TIME now. The last time we were there we could order and eat there without worry about finding a table. Each time we went this time we had to go in to order it to-go or go through the drive-through.

Him: Why are we outside? Me: Because it's crowded inside. Do you want to wait in there with all those people bumping into you? Him: No.  Me: Me neither.

Him: Why are we outside?
Me: Because it’s crowded inside. Do you want to wait in there with all those people bumping into you?
Him: No.
Me: Me neither.

My favorite: cheeseburger animal and protein style with fries. The trick when you are with people who eat gluten, ask for yours to be bagged separate. We didn’t do it the first time and Mom wound up holding mine for me. I had gluten on my hands from wiping doughnut crumbs and holding Obi-Wan’s hand after he ate said doughnut in the hospital room (Mommy wanted a doughnut when we visited and Obi-Wan wanted to have a doughnut with Mommy).

Other than a great burger, In ‘N Out is one of the places where I can have the fries, too. And we all know fries are more fun with a burger than any other side.

He got ice cream after dinner for doing so well at swim lessons. And Hot Wheels. Spoiled him that day to take his mind off Mommy & Daddy being at the hospital with Mara Jade.

He got ice cream after dinner for doing so well at swim lessons. And Hot Wheels. Spoiled him that day to take his mind off Mommy & Daddy being at the hospital with Mara Jade.

Gluten-Free In Los Angeles: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Believe it or not, this was the only food picture I took at Ruth's Chris.

Believe it or not, this was the only food picture I took at Ruth’s Chris.

Our second night in Los Angeles we were able to go out for a nice dinner sans Little Obi-Wan (I really should call him Obi-Wan because he’s not so little anymore). Chaz and I hadn’t been to a Ruth’s Chris in probably a decade. We used to go to the one in Louisville in Kaden Tower until the dress code got lax. Going to an upscale restaurant where you can easily spend over hundred dollars on dinner for two isn’t appealing when there are other diners in shorts and/or denim. It’s an aesthetic thing. I get it in tourist places when people are coming in from off the beach or the golf course, etc. But Louisville isn’t a tourist city, even during Derby. It’s more of a party city during Derby.

Ruth’s Chris has a separate gluten-free menu, but I ordered from the prix fixe menu (labeled as Ruth’s Classic Menu on the website) because they were able to tailor it to my needs. And it was cheaper. I was able to choose from a salad, a steak, a side, and a dessert that fit my dietary needs.

I gave my list of food allergies to our server who then gave it to the manager. He came to see me to let me know he was going over it with the chef to ensure nothing on my list touched my plate. This is where fine dining excels for people with food allergies. They get that if our needs aren’t met to our satisfaction, we’ll never return and we’ll tell others not to go. You know, like how those of us who are gluten-free tend to be more brand loyal than other consumers. It’s like that with restaurants.

I ate well that night. A Caesar salad with no croutons. Ribeye medium well, instead of the medium how I ordered it. Steamed spinach. Crème Brulee. It was my first Caesar salad and Crème Brulee in years. It’s amazing how delicious everything tastes when you haven’t had it in a long time.

It was an excellent meal out with Dawn, her Old Man, and Mom. I did learn that I need a new rule when dining with others consuming gluten. I’ve gotten used to eating with Chaz so if he has bread, he keeps it next to him. Mom passed the bread over me and instead of Chaz taking the basket, he tried to tear off a piece as she held it. Over my water. In a split second I imagined crumbs falling into my water. I made some noises like “GAH! AH! AH!” while covering my water and pulling it to me. Never again. New rule is gluten passes behind me or goes around the other way.