Last night I joined our ham radio club group for dinner at Koho’s. I had never had good luck with any of the main dishes before, so I brought in my own main course. I decided to have a lemonade and some ice cream there so that I wasn’t just sitting in their restaurant and not purchasing anything. It’s a small, local restaurant and so I felt a little more desire to support their business even though they couldn’t totally support me. I don’t know where that feeling came from, but it was there. Dinner was going well. I was having a lot of fun geeking out with everyone. It was a nice time. When the end of the meal came I ordered dessert. I looked at the dessert menu and saw an ice cream dish called “The DaKine.” The description stated that it contained macadamia nut fudge under vanilla ice cream. This was topped with whipped cream and more macadamia nuts. Wowsers, right? Well, my dinner was a very healthful veggie-nori wrap so I felt I could splurge a little. I also figured I’d eat the first half and let Devin have the second half (he’d eaten gluten, so I didn’t want him to contaminate me). I asked the server to check whether or not there was wheat or barley in the ingredients list (some chocolates contain malted barley). He went back to the kitchen and returned with the sundae. He said it was fine.
I had one bite with just ice cream and whipped cream. I had a second bite with ice cream and a little hot fudge. With that bite my brain said,”Those are just the crumbled nuts, right?” The third bite I knew I was in trouble. It felt like brownie. It tasted like brownie. I gave Devin a bite. His face turned sad. We called over a waitress and asked her. She went back to the kitchen and returned to tell me that there is flour in the brownie mix. Um. What brownie? There was no mention of a brownie on the menu or by my server. What brownie?! They cleared away the dish. Within 5 minutes I felt the brain fog coming on. I couldn’t think straight. A radio club member was telling me about his food allergy, but my eyes kept wandering and I barely heard him.
Devin paid for his portion of the meal. The sundae was not on the bill. He didn’t tip. That’s the first time I’ve not seen him leave a tip.
The servers were apologetic. They didn’t mean to. They didn’t know better. But, we found out that our server had asked another server about the ingredients. He hadn’t asked the kitchen staff. He hadn’t checked an ingredient book. It turned out that he was brand new to serving there. He really didn’t know better.
We left. About 5 minutes down the road Devin decided to turn back. He said we should talk to the manager. He was right. I just wasn’t mentally there to think to do that. So, we went back. We asked for the manager. She came over. She was very nice. Her name was Jerry. We told her what had happened. She said she had heard. She apologized and asked what they could do for me. I said that I didn’t really want anything, but that I wanted her to be aware that this incident had occurred and that the employees really needed better training. I said that they should tell their employees to really check with an ingredient book or the kitchen staff before. She agreed. She said he should have come to her when a customer speaks of an allergy or asks about an ingredient. She stated that the wait staff is hard to keep trained because they have such a high turn over. However, she did say that they could train their managing team to know how to better handle gluten allergies and other allergies.
At this time I had to excuse myself to the restroom. Devin continued the conversation. He explained how many people really are gluten free, and that the fad diet side of it is making people not take it very seriously. She didn’t realize that it is as sensitive an issue as even shellfish allergies. That made her take notice for sure. He also explained that people will eat where their gluten free friends or family members can eat. He told her that it’s good economic sense to make more customers safe in the restaurant.
Finally, she told me that if I ever wanted to eat there that I should ask for a manager and that they would take every precaution to make sure I could eat something. I told her about the website. I told her that I have to write up something and that I’d hate to have to tell people to completely avoid the restaurant. She said she didn’t want that to have to happen either. So, while I can’t recommend Koho’s to you, I will say that if you want to try you can. Just ask for the manager. Maybe take a dining card.
While more lower cost dining options are able to offer gluten free menus and food options on the mainland, there are not options really in that range on Maui. The best restaurants for gluten free folks are higher end places. I can’t afford to eat at them all of the time. Some of you can’t either. So, we either stay home or we risk it. Maybe I’ll start carrying a dining card and asking for the manager every place I go. I’m tired of getting sick. I’m tired of the brain fog. I’m tired of stomach aches. They make me frustrated. They make me cry. They ruin my evening and Devin’s as well (though he won’t admit it).
We didn’t go to the radio club meeting after dinner. We went home. My SIL and BIL brought me up some coconut water. I chugged it. I made a cup of peppermint tea and played a Nancy Drew computer game. It was a nice, sweet, and easy way to get my mind away from my body. I need something a little more distracting than a movie to do that.
I’m feeling better today, but my brain isn’t still one-hundred percent. It’s really times like these that I don’t understand people who cheat when they need to be gluten free. Devin said that maybe it’s because they don’t know what it feels like to actually be well. If they’re always cheating, they’ll never know. I never cheat, so I know my body’s optimal state. Why wouldn’t someone want to feel that way all of the time?