At the end of August, I was in upstate New York for a week. Dear graduate school friend Linda, president of the Hudson Valley Celiac Support Group and local swing dance teacher, lives nearby. It took us about 20 minutes to figure out where to eat that was gluten-free for her and allergy-friendly for me. The choices were slim to none. We had almost given up when Linda suggested the Artist’s Palate.
So, I started my dining out protocol. (Read more here or for the full version, check out my book Allergic Girl).
I looked online first, specifically at their mission statement: “A gracious knowledgeable wait staff will guide you through the many offerings, from meat and fish to vegetarian and gluten-free offerings.”
That was a good sign, so I perused the Artist’s Palate menu, saw a few dishes that looked/sounded yummy and, on the surface at least, seemed allergen-friendly or easily changed to be so.
Next, I called and spoke with Artist’s Palate, telling them that I have severe food allergies to nuts and fish. This conversation is where I lost some confidence. The sever that answered the phone said they dealt with allergies all the time. As we went through possible menu options together, he suggested the fries.
“No fries for me. Usually other foods are fried in there, like seafood. Yes?”
“Yes, we fry seafood in there,” he said, “but how severe is your allergy”
“Death. My allergy could lead to possible death,” is what I replied. (On August 23, I Facebooked this exchange – scroll down to read the conversation.)
“OK, then no fried foods for you. But bottom line, we do understand allergies, we are happy to accommodate your needs and we will make you anything that you want.”
That last line was enough to warrant a visit to the Artist’s Palate. I brought a backup lunch in case we got on site and there was not enough trust for me to dine. Linda had been there before and felt they did a decent job with gluten-free but gluten-free does not equal allergen-friendly, in foods, training or in restaurants.
On-site, our waitress (Diana) seemed knowledgeable, offered to get a manager but said she could help me. I gave her my whole spiel, ordered a Sloane-safe meal (Kobe beef burger, no bun, no fries with a dry side salad), asked about using a separate clean pan, clean utensils etc.. She seemed knowledgeable and relayed all my questions to the kitchen and came back with positive answers. Our dishes came out gluten-free for Linda and allergen-friendly for me and were delish.
Here’s a picture of my The Artist’s Palate burger.
We had a chat with The Artist’s Palate Chef/owner Megan afterwards. Here’s our picture:
She mentioned that once my server relayed my food allergies and that I asked for a clean pan, she knew she was dealing with a severe allergy, not just a preference. She in turn re-sanitized her whole station, knives, cutting board and cleaned a pan just for my meal. (Thank you, Chef!)
What did she need from me? Clear communication about my food allergies and what I wanted to eat. She said they have many requests and are happy and able to accommodate them when they are able and if they can’t safely they will communicate that as well.
The person who picked up the phone said some confusing messages but ultimately said the right thing to get me in the door: we understand the seriousness of food allergies and can accommodate you safely. And make you anything you want. I always appreciate that level of hospitality and service and flexibility.
Thank you, The Artist’s Palate - I look forward to returning.
The Artist’s Palate
307 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601