The Old Spaghetti Factory: Is it Really "Gluten-Free?"

Spaghetti FactoryMy community college’s radio program just had their end of the year banquet and award ceremony  for all of the radio students from the last school year and, to my surprise, I actually won a certificate of achievement for “excellence in broadcasting.”  While I enjoyed my AM radio class I was only able to take one before completing my two-year transfer degree (going to the University of Washington in the fall), so I was so surprised to win something.

As with most events, food played a key part in the festivities and the banquet was held at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle.  It’s a restaurant I’d never been to before, but I’d heard generally good things about it and according to their website they offered a complete gluten-free menu.  My sister Shannon (who also is gluten-free) and I even got a cutesy little “gluten-free” flag (note the pic) planted right in the middle of our pasta.

Unfortunately, despite the “gluten-free” menu, talking about each option with the server, and the nifty little flag, Shannon and I both ended up getting glutened.  We were there right at dinnertime and because we were a part of a banquet, the kitchen and wait staff were going a million miles an hour.  It was the perfect setting to have someone forget to wash their hands before making my food, to use the same serving spoon that they had already used with the gluten pasta, or not be careful enough with a crumbly piece of bread.

Perhaps The Spaghetti Factory was having an off day due to the number of people they were feeding.  I don’t know.  It was odd though that both Shannon and I ended up getting sick  when we’d both ordered different things off the “gluten-free” menu.  When my future mother-in-law found out about our most recent glutening, she said that a young lady she knows never goes there because every time she’s been to the Spaghetti Factory in Seattle she’s gotten sick due to gluten.              

To their credit, I loved the general atmosphere of the restaurant and the servers were friendly; if I didn’t have celiac I’d totally go back.   I’m glad that I went to the banquet so that I could see everyone and be there to accept my certificate, but I wish I would’ve packed my own dinner.  I appreciate the fact that they’re trying to be accommodating to their gluten-free guest. Unfortunately, due to the seriousness of celiac disease, “trying” isn’t good enough because now Shannon and I will be sick for a couple of days. 

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5 thoughts on “The Old Spaghetti Factory: Is it Really "Gluten-Free?"

  1. I finally understand why Shannon told me “I am never eating out again.”
    Though she told me she got glutened she didn’t tell me (or I didn’t recall it) that it was while the restaurant was trying to boast their gluten-free-ness! That is rather discouraging, to say the least.
    I really hope there is a breakthrough in the research of celiac disease soon, since it really seems to be a huge handicap for something that is such a necessity to survive.
    You and your sister have my highest sympathies.

    • It made me feel like I never wanted to risk going out to eat again, too. Very discouraging. And frustrating.

      I hope there’s a breakthrough in the research and just general understanding when it comes to celiac disease. Sometimes I feel like people have a textbook definition of what it is but they don’t know what the application of that is, how easily food gets cross-contaminated, and how badly people like Shannon and I will get sick.

      Thanks for commenting, Tiger. Nice to hear from you.


      • Shannon tells me about cross-contamination a lot, mostly from her experiences and frustrations throughout the time I’ve known her and I recall a time you were both rather very sick from a contaminated sauce of some sort, as some things are thickened with gluten and it made me realize how scary it is that gluten is virtually unavoidable and you both are able to live relatively gluten-free, otherwise there are painful consequences to deal with. I’m really glad she’s told me about it as she’s experienced it so I can understand what it is more fully. Also, I can relate to the experience (to an extent) of the hassle of having to be cautious of my diet and the people who don’t understand the kinds of things I am not able to have, and some people even get frustrated with me when I tell them I can’t eat certain things for whatever reason. This is still not as severe as celiac disease as I can usually get away with my food being contaminated with very little consequence so long as I have a bottle of tums nearby and plenty of water.
        Stay strong! I’m glad that, despite how very few people there are that actually understand celiac disease, you are still able (for the most part) to remain gluten-free and that you try to help others live as normal a life they can with the same restrictions!

        • Living gluten-free is very challenging, especially in the beginning. Learning that I can’t use the same toaster as everyone else or that I have to reread product labels again and again and again because sometimes the recipe will change. And then something that was gluten-free will no longer be safe.

          “Safety” is what I think of first when I think of celiac disease. How we feel like we’re always at risk. How I know that if I eat something that has even a tiny bit of wheat in the sauce I’ll be sick for a solid week and recovering for the week after (that time Shannon and I got super sick because we each at a piece of shrimp with sauce on it I ended up missing school and work for two days). It’s about safety, but so many people think it’s just another fad diet or that I’m picky or paranoid.

          And, if you’re interested, here’s another blog post eating out as a gluten-free person:

  2. Pingback: Glutened Again: The Magic of Ice Cream | The Crunchy Cook

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