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Buzz Extra: Can't eat this, can't eat that

Those with allergies recommend safe restaurants

Apr. 5, 2013
 
Cake Anatomy custom cake business owner Dawn Bybee (left) and her daughter Brianna Ropski work in the bakery's kitchen Wednesday in Kaukauna. Bybee is an allergy sufferer, so she's understanding and can accommodate customer requests like no nuts or no dairy in their food.
Cake Anatomy custom cake business owner Dawn Bybee (left) and her daughter Brianna Ropski work in the bakery's kitchen Wednesday in Kaukauna. Bybee is an allergy sufferer, so she's understanding and can accommodate customer requests like no nuts or no dairy in their food. / Wm. Glasheen/Post-Crescent Media
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Dawn Bybee, owner of the custom cake business Cake Anatomy in Kaukauna, has more allergies and hypersensitivities than she can count.

“I have a ton of them. I can’t have more than a taste of chocolate. In the last three years, its been strawberries and pineapple. I have a high sensitivity to seasonings,” she said.

So when customers call with special requests for no nuts, no dairy or no whatever, she’s more than happy to oblige because she knows their pain.

“I know my reaction to things, and it’s scary,” she said. “Marinades and heavy seasonings make my heart thump and my mouth burn.”

Cake Anatomy is one of the Fox Cities businesses readers praised for a willingness to accommodate requests based on allergies or food intolerances.

My call for reader recommendations earlier this week was prompted by a letter from an Appleton mom who had been through the wringer trying to find places to eat out that would take her daughter’s dairy allergy seriously. She has had good experiences so far at Red Robin, Far East and CherryBerry.

Not all readers, however, believed that restaurants should be expected accommodate requests based on allergies. See the polarized back and forth posts by clicking on the April 2 story at postcrescent.com/the buzz.

Bybee says she rarely eats out, but when she does her two safe places are Red Robin and Outback Steakhouse.

Among those dealing with dairy allergies, Jennifer Dieter wrote that she had good experiences dining out in Italian restaurants Carmella’s and Cannova’s and many Asian restaurants, which traditionally use little dairy. “Taste of Thai, Basil Café, Katsu-Ya and Koreana have many dairy-free options and are very accommodating.”

“I've generally had success with calling ahead, checking online menus and discussing ingredients/cooking with servers until I’m comfortable,” said Eliza Basehoar, a mom dealing with her children’s dairy, egg and nut allergies. Two she found most pleasant and accommodating were Chipotle and Sai Ram.

“We have had exceptional treatment at the Stone Cellar,” said Chris Hall.

Kara Schneider stressed that the biggest obstacle is people not understanding the seriousness of a food allergy or “mixing up a food allergy with an intolerance. They are two very different things,” she said. “If my daughter ingests dairy, within a few minutes she will swell up and be unable to breathe.”

In the rare instances when they go out, she said they’ve had good luck at TJ’s Japanese Steakhouse in Darboy and the two Subways in Menasha where they change their gloves and prepare food separately. Great Harvest made special dinner rolls on request.

Readers also gave suggestions for gluten-free dining.

“The new StoneYard on Eisenhower in Darboy has gluten free hamburger buns that are excellent. They also asked if I would like to have my fries cooked in gluten-free oil. Very accommodating,” said Kathleen Gagnow.

Chris Shields praised Little Chicago’s menu, which lists gluten-free dishes on its regular menu. It made it easy for his wife to order. “We were amazed at actually how much she could have off the menu. In my mind, Little Chicago has done it right.”

Reader Jodi Monroe Broehm singled out Happy Bellies Bake Shop in Appleton for its vegan and gluten-free baked goods.

“My wife has celiac and has an allergy to soy and dairy. We have a list we go to as well,” wrote Jason Schwalbach. It includes Solea, Qdoba, Glass Nickel Pizza, Uno Chicago Grill, Chef Fresh and Nakashima’s sushi bar.

Dozens of Fox Cities restaurants have gluten free designations on menus. Neenah eateries Greene’s Pour House and Cherry on Top will be two of the newest in the coming weeks with gluten-free pizza crusts, sandwich breads and ice cream cones.

Addie Teeters, mom to a child with a severe egg allergy and another with a peanut allergy, checks allergen information online before going to any restaurant and participates in the Fox Valley Food Allergy Support Group. Her local recommendations include Cake Anatomy in Kaukauana and Van Abel’s in Hollandtown.

At any restaurant, good communication with the serving staff can be the key,” she said. “We alert the server to ask the kitchen to keep plates separate. We also emphasize that the allergy is ‘life-threatening.’”

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