Update 6/10/20: As of early May due to COVID and other financial hardships Shady Grove has permanently closed.
I want to start off with mentioning that if you are a celiac, or super sensitive when it comes to gluten I do not recommend this place. Honestly, I just do not want you to get to the end of this article and then feel misled. But that is also hard for me to say because supposedly I am too nice sometimes… Or so my godmother says.
I had high hopes for this place. The environment was super cool and Austin places are usually pretty knowledgeable and seem to be pretty good about safe gluten free food.
I went to Shady Grove with a large group on a Friday night. This was a time I was not in charge or even asked my opinion on the restaurant choice. It is a local Austin restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. On the patio they have a stage where they host live musicians regularly during the spring and summer months. They also show family friendly movies under the stars.
This restaurant is a popular one. It is located on Barton Springs Rd close to the one and only Zilker Park. We did have a huge party, but the wait that evening was about an hour and a half. They did have servers checking on us, getting us drinks and appetizers while we waited.
I was pretty hungry by the time we got there and some of our group ordered chips and queso. I did not trust the chip basket that had already had multiple hands in it, so I got my own. Multiple people in the group were like, uh…why can’t we eat from your basket. It gave me a good chance to remind them of my diagnosis and the precautions that I need to take to stay safe. These were normal corn chips, so I did not test them in my Nima. I really wanted to try the queso, but I refrained because the potential for cross contamination.
During this time I also ordered my usual, a margarita on the rocks with salt. It was a pretty good margarita, and it was nice having a drink for the wait.
Finally our table was ready and once seated we ordered pretty quickly. There were kids in our group and everyone was hungry and it was getting late. I asked for a gluten free menu, and ordered a gluten free turkey club sandwich. I asked the waitress about the fries and about the fryer situation. She did not know the answer, but went and asked. She found an answer for the question, so I brushed it off. But it was a busy night and looking back I maybe should have taken it as a bad sign.
After while our food came out. I had my Nima sensor, but honestly was super hungry and wanted to just dig in. I know, kinda stupid when I have the technology to know if it is safe. My godmother kind of hinted at that and the fact that I’d never used it at a restaurant, so I pulled it out and used it. The Nima sensor intrigued many people in my group, so I’m very thankful for multiple reasons that I got it out and used it.
So I wait, it does its thing and displays the gluten found symbol. I was annoyed. I awkwardly waved over the waitress and explained that I tested the sub and that it was not gluten free. She brought the manager over and she asked how I wanted to proceed. We decided that they would remake it on its own plate and that she herself would supervise that all utensils and gloves got changed. I get the second sub and test it. Again the gluten found symbol. The manager came and asked what the Nima sensor found. I showed her the results and said I would not eat it.
How I proceeded after the Gluten Found Symbol of Death…
At this point I felt many things. Frustration and hunger being the main things. Everyone was pretty much finished eating and I was over being there, so I told her to just take it off the bill and I would eat at home. She was super apologetic, but that does not change the fact that they say they can accommodate gluten free. I know they all put the warnings on their menus. But I and every other celiac, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity individual should be able to go out to eat, like others. And at the same time feel safe.
Thankfully my godmother took it upon herself to discuss with the manager that they talk to their staff to better their practices. At that point I was hangry, had a little bit of a buzz and just wanted to leave. The kids were tired and getting cranky and I was not going to order anything from the kitchen. This was one of those times my godmother told me I was too nice. I accidentally apologized to the manager, and she was upset with me for it. I am working on the whole advocating for my own health thing. But honestly I was just not in the mood to have that conversation with the manager, although it was one that needed to occur. I thank my godmother for taking it upon herself to do that for me that evening.
Overall I enjoyed the restaurant set up. It was super trendy, they had dogs on the patio…LOVE… If you choose to be gluten free for whatever reason and do not have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity they do have a gluten free menu. I obviously did not taste any of the food except the corn chips. Those tasted like corn chips. And for anyone who is not gluten free I think it seems like a great option. The people in my group seemed to like their meals. I personally would go back to see some live music and have some drinks from the bar, but won’t be going to try and eat.
Again it’s weird that I am writing negative things here, but I think it is important. I think it is important for us to warn others about locations that may not be safe for us gluten free folk. We are all in this together and I want all of my friends and readers to be safe and not damage your small intestines, because we all know that’s no fun.
So stay safe out there my friends. And thanks to my Nima for saving my gut that night!