Not Plain But Only

This bit of food allergy dining etiquette is my new favorite thing.

Very often I order a dish saying I want it, “plain.” And then that dish comes distinctly NOT plain i.e. sauced, dressed, with non-ordered and completely contaminated fries. Sigh. (Here's a rant about that very thing.)

I always wonder what went wrong?

How did plain not mean plain?

Executive Chef Cliff Saladin at the Sheraton Tarrytown explained that from his perspective and in his experience, very often servers will interpret “plain” to mean what THEY think it means not what YOU think it means.

What to do?

Chef Cliff suggests saying “Only”.

For example, “I’d like a burger with lettuce tomato and onion only.”

I tried it that night and everything arrived just as it should have and as I requested: a grilled chicken breast with polenta and some tomato sauce on the side. Only.

Here's a picture:

This is my new favorite tip. I can’t wait to try it out at more places.

If you try it, let me know if it works for you.


~M said…
Just make sure that the water used in the tomato sauce is not coming from starchy leftover pasta-boiling water! :)
Anonymous said…
What a great tip! I struggle with this exact same thing. I always get none of what a wanted and a whole lot of what I can't have! PERFECT! Thanks :)
Gab said…
This is great advice - I think the more specific you can be with the chef, the better.
Unknown said…
I never thought I was's definitely on my list of things to try next time I'm out. People always look at me like I'm nuts when I order food without all the 'extras'...=) It's nice to know I have something in common with you guys. :)
Allergic Girl® said…
thanks everyone--
yeah something about saying "ONLY" changes the nature of what you've just requested...
miss b said…
I've been requesting "plain" food since I was a child. Back then it was really hit and miss and I learned to pick foods that would just naturally come plain (chicken strips, instead of a burger). Sometime in my teens though I started being more specific about my food requests (ex. I only want chicken and lettuce on a bun please) and the large majority of the time it's worked out fine.

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