Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Corner Bakery

While out shopping with a friend over the weekend, he asked where we were going to have lunch. I planned for everything else - what stores we were driving to and where the sales were, but I didn't really plan for lunch. I had an extra big breakfast and threw some larabars in my purse to tide me over if I started getting hungry. But there were were in the north suburbs in the shopping districts dotted with restaurants and I had to find some place to eat on the fly. I looked in the window of the first suggestion - a burger joint. We passed. Next up was Corner Bakery. The teenage cashier greeted us. I didn't even bother looking at the menu. I told her that I was gluten free and vegan - what would she recommend. I got the confused look from her and asked if she knew what gluten free meant. The light bulb clicked and she said that I couldn't have wheat. We're going on the right path now! I fleshed out the rest of the definition (no wheat, barely, rye or oats or anything that came in contact with those). And then she recommended the soup. I asked if she was sure that there was no gluten in there (some broths contain gluten) so she checked the allergen binder. Someone walking by pointed out that there was milk in there. Yikes! So we figuratively took a few steps back. There were pictures of salads and we figured out that I could have a salad without bread or sauce (soy sauce often contains wheat). The Asian Endamame Salad was a great choice. When ringing me up, she asked what size - apparently the larger portion was served over wontons. Delicious, but deadly (or at least, illness-inducing for me). I went with the side salad and heard her carefully repeat no bread, no sauce and the order was passed along the line with those instructions. When my food arrived, it was identified as with no bread, no sauce. This may seem like a little much, but this is now my typical dialogue with food service employees when dining out. I'm grateful for allergen charts and binders of nutritional information available so employees can quickly identify safe options for diners with food allergies. Corner Bakery, which has many locations in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, did a great job with their online material. Their allergen information is on the last few pages of their document. It is also dated from 2008. They are one of the first restaurants I've seen with check marks in a separate column for vegan items! Awesome!

The salad itself was loaded with vegetables - halved cherry tomatoes, julienned carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, endamame, green onions - and herbs like cilantro and basil all over a bed of lettuce. A very colorful and delicious dish that hit the spot!

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