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Safe Restaurants with Peanut Allergy?

My son was just diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Although it isn't severe, we want to be safe. Are there any restaurants that people have found to be either peanut-free, very sensitive to allergies or just plain safe? I am particularly looking for Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese restaurants.

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  1. I would be interested to read responses about this. I have two children with allergies--one to peanuts, the other to tree nuts. I stay away from Chinese (and most restaurants, really) with my kids because I just don't want to take the chance. Extremely rarely, my peanut allergy kid will have sweet and sour chicken. Not exactly the chowhound experience you're looking for, I'm afraid. Even then, I feel nervous about it. It's all I can do to not stand next to him with the Epi pen poised at the ready.

    When we do eat out, I grill the server about the possibility of nuts in the food. Usually we get pizza, which is pretty safe, although not very exotic. You could take a chance and carefully explain to your server that your son has a peanut allergy. Make sure you always have the Epi pen with you! There are too many stories out there about restaurant kitchens not getting the message from the waiter about food allergies for me to feel entirely comfortable about my nut allergy kids eating in restaurants. I even avoid taking them to get ice cream, sadly.

    I'm hoping you'll get responses from folks who may know of restaurants that have nut-free kitchens or have awareness about it.

    1. Ming Tsai has a child with the same problem and he is campaigning for allergy safety in restaurants. I'd call Blue GInger and ask for guidance from him. Where does he take his son?

      http://www.ming.com/faan/

      1. Bobalicious in Newton should be safe. It's not a restaurant exactly, but a takeout spot with a few tables. Not only is their food very good, but it's run by two moms who will absolutely take extra care in what they prepare for you, Vietnamese banh mi or one of their delicious rolls or salads. If you call ahead I bet they can prepare something special.
        http://boba-licious.com/

        1. Hi:

          Please excuse the interruption, but please keep the focus here on local places that will work for foodymom. Discussions about allergies are off topic and we've removed that discussion here.

          Thank you.

          1. Meyers & Chang in the S. End has several different versions of their menu that I found helpful given my allergies to nuts and seafood. If memory seves me correct, they have a no nuts menu, no shellfish, vegetarian, gluten free. If you have more than one allergy (me) you may have to cross check different menus but the no nuts one was very helpful.

            1. I would NEVER take my son with peanut allergy to an Asian restaurant! These restaurants very oftern use peanuts and the owners do not really understand the allergy. I once asked the owner if there were any peanuts or peanut oil in the restaurant and he replied "no peanut oil". When I pressed him further, he admitted that he used whole peanuts in the dishes!

              One restaurant we frequent quite often is the Bertucci's chain. Great kid food and no nuts. (Just avoid any desserts except for the free Hoodsie with kids meals.) Usually Italian restaurants are safer but always ask! I have found pizza places that put peanut oil in the pizza.

              Also, NEVER trust the host, waitress or waiter for information. Always ask to speak to the chef, owner or manager.

              Good luck,
              Jean

              7 Replies
              1. re: Jean Brady

                I think Bertucci's is pretty good as chains go, but an incident in the news a few years ago makes me wary of recommending them for a customer with a nut allergy (although they probably have retrained all staff since this happened):

                http://tinyurl.com/4zbl8m

                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                  Bertucci's founder had a peanut allergy (the story goes) so they have always been great. I have a peanut allergy and the staff at the Olive
                  Garden told me nothing is safe. I call ahead to a restaurant to make sure they understand the situaion. I also have an opentable account and my profile says "peanut allergy". Good Luck :)

                  1. re: dneary

                    The story I heard about Bertuccis was that the pesto used to contain pine nuts. A waitress told a customer that there were no nuts in the pesto and unfortunately the customer had a reaction and died. Since that event they removed the pine nuts and have been nut free (except for desserts). I heard this story from my allergist. I never heard the story about the founder having peanut allergy. The moral of the story is to talk to the chef of manager first!

                    Also Not-your-Average-Joes might be sensitive to kids with allergies, but I was told that they do have peanuts in their kitchen. If a restaurant has peanuts in the kitchen I move on. It is too easier to make a mistake a cross contaminate food!

                    1. re: Jean Brady

                      The story about the pesto is true. It was a well known case in legal circles in Boston.

                2. re: Jean Brady

                  I agree with Jean. My daughter was diagnosed with a fish allergy several years ago (she is now 14), and while the testing suggested she could have anaphylaxis, fortunately, she hasn't. However, the only times she has had a reaction (rash, hives), were when she ate supposedly safe things like sweet and sour chicken at an Asian restaurant, presumably because of unexpected fish-based ingredients, and cross-contamination from cooking utensils and woks. I think there is sometimes a language barrier and lack of understanding. My MD told me that she is severely allergic to shellfish, and when she ordered vegetarian pad thai and it came with shrimp on it, she reminded the server, who proceeded to remove the shrimp in front of her. One place where we have had good luck is the Kelly's chain. I was told by someone with a severe shellfish allergy that they are very careful there to fry everything in different oil, otherwise, it could be a problem for her to have french fries that have been fried in the same oil as the fish, which believe it or not is the norm.

                  1. re: AnnieP

                    Chef Rachel Klein has a peanut allergy so she is very sensitive to people with allergies. Her kitchen at OM was peanut free, but she has moved on to Aura restaurant at the seaport hotel. Call the restaurant and ask to speak with her about what she can do. I have a black pepper allergy and I would call ahead and she would make special dishes for me.

                  2. re: Jean Brady

                    I agree it is always risky, I for one though (nut and shellfish allergies) felt comfortable at Myers and Chang b/c you don't often see a restaurant go to the lengths to produce 4 different versions of their menu depending on what your allergy is.

                  3. I went to the Copley Legal Seafoods with a friend who has a peanut allergy. She asked the server if she could get a particular dish that normally came with nuts, without them. The waitress said she that they take food allergies very seriously and that she wanted to talk to the cook. The cook/chef came out and talked to my friend about the allergy and what she wanted to eat. He explained that he would prepare her meal with utensils/cooktops/etc that would not be contaminated. I was very impressed that they were so sensitive to it.

                    1. If I were you, I'd call ahead to any place that I may be headed to for eats. Most places will acommodate your requirement.

                      1. Not Your Average Joes is extremely concscious about allergies and children. When you call, expect a return call from the Executive Chef of the chain. They make it very painless to order a variety of things for kids (pizza, pasta, mac n' cheese, grilled chicken, etc.)

                        1. It's not Asian, but Full Moon in Cambridge is the most kid-friendly place I know of, and it's also peanut/tree-nut free. They do a variety of mediterranean-inspired dishes (it changes regularly) and healthy kid food. My daughter (who is also allergic to peanuts) loves the shell mac and cheese. They have real sippy cups for little kids, and a nice play area where the kids can hang while parents sit and talk. The food is a large step above typical family chain restaurants. Hope that's helpful!

                          1. Thank you so much for these ideas. Just as an FYI, we had a great meal at Firefly's in Framingham and realized that they are also really sensitive to food allergy issues-the manager came to our table to explain their policy and was incredibly patient with all of our questions. He even went so far as to bring me a bag of their hot dog rolls so I could read the label myself!

                            1. My nephew has a severe peanut allergy. One location that is family friendly as well as peanut-allergy safe is the Halfway Cafe. She'd called several locations when planning a family get-together, and Halfway was one of the few that said they aboslutely are peanut - free

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chowciao

                                I checked the Halfway Cafe menu on their website and they have an Asian salad that has "spicy peanut dressing". I don't know who told you they were peanut free but I would double check your information. The website was www.thehalfwaycafe.com. Check the menu and look for salads.

                                1. re: Jean Brady

                                  this may sound crazy but we've been impressed w Legal Seafood - for a shellfish allergy! We explained relative had shellfish allergy, she just wanted a caesar salad and they were awesome - Chef brought it out and explained preparation - said there was no cross contamination. Since then, we've been back several times and same person also ordered seared tuna and steak - was going to order another app. once but manager came over and told us they couldn't guarantee the preparation in a steaming basket - where a shrimp dish was also sometimes steamed. Always tell mngt. upfront or ask before seating...Blue Ginger is also supposed to be incredible - Ming Tsai wrote a book for chefs regarding food allergies and supposedly can make many dishes for those w/allergies. He's been interviewed about it. We want to try it soon - reservations are recommended.