DO NOT go there.
I have been there before and had a great dining experience and food to match. The last time I was there they were working me up for Celiac but I was still eating without restrictions. This time we called in advance, informed them the day before and when we arrived that I had Celiac Disease and therefore a gluten allergy. Each time I was informed that it would be taken care of.
Although Chef William Bradley has high acclaims for his food and menu. I think he and his kitchen brigade need some serious education about allergens and Celiac Disease. I did hand the manager a flyer for the GREAT Kitchen education program from the NFCA. I carry them with me when I go to any new restaurant hoping that some places in San Diego will take the course. The manager had a smug expression as if my request was no problem - he was very wrong.
If you don't know, this is a french restaurant. You can choose from the menu a four course dinner or let the chef prepare a six or eight course meal. We choose the six course tasting. Each dish is brought out with a server from each patron and presented. One server that explains the dish. I specifically told my waitress that I will have questions and I will want to know the ingredients of the sauces and how things were prepared. The servers were not prepared and appeared to have the knowledge base of a GED equivalent. It appeared that they memorized what they were told but did not really know the menu.
Four bread courses. For each course spread throughout the meal I received nothing. They did not offer a GF bread product, they did not substitute it with a vegetable or fruit. So for those courses I sat, watching my party enjoy their bread.
Amuse bouche. This was a grape juice with raisins. My waitress brought this out, knew the ingredients and it was good.
A crab dish poached in butter with asian pears. This they knew and it was good.
Shrimp with green curry. The servers didn't know the specifics. We asked what the sear on the shrimp was. I was told it was tempura style. WHAT? Back to the kitchen they went. Out came my waitress looking scared, took my dish away, returned later with a new dish with shrimp - no coating, no frying. I ate it alone because my party had finished their dishes. I was told it was a rice flour coating, mixed with what they would not tell me. They could not tell me where the rice flour was from. They said it was pan fried but could not tell me if the pan or flour or breading station was free of cross contamination. Luckily I never tried the first dish - but really. I did not expect that from this restaurant.
Fish dish. My table mates had salmon in a dashi broth. I'll assume that it included soy because I got a different dish. A slice of white fish topped with a leek that was grilled. I sat and waited and finally got a server to check. Where was it grilled? When they returned from the kitchen I was told that no bread products are cooked on the grill. My party had finished their dishes at this point and I was unsure of the kitchen and therefore did not eat it.
Next was the waygu beef. My dish looked different - no breaded mushrooms. I asked our server how the meat was prepared. Braised, they said. Braised in what? Back they went to the kitchen. Out came my answer and it was okay. What about the potatoe? On top was a flat crunchy thing. What is this? Back to the kitchen they went. Out they came to tell me it was a fried slice of potato in olive oil that was done for me. Separate, I asked? He believed so. I didn't eat it.
Cheese course. Out come crackers for the table. They informed me they were not GF. Really? as if I couldn't guess at this point. Two cheese samples were presented. One had a green coating. I asked what it was. I was told it was a vegetable ash. What exactly is a vegetable ash and what did it contain. Back to the kitchen they were. Out they came and took my plate away and returned with two cheeses without any additional ingredients.
There was a dish with uni, oyster and caviar over creme fraiche. This was good and all ingredients were safe.
For dessert I received a different dish from everyone. My dish was a flan like dish with caramel that they prepared on site from scratch from sugar topped with orange. I don't really enjoy flan or creme brulee but I do enjoy chocolate which is what everyone else enjoyed - I watched.
At 165 dollars per person it was not worth it. I expected more from a 5 star restaurant. They need some serious education from the top down. To take dishes away that were already presented to me is scary. They had ample warning that I was coming in. I would have been more impressed if they said it would be hard to prepare the tasting for me and instead make me two or three dishes that were simple - a protein and a vegetable or starch. For the experience of their guest, offering something to me while the other diners enjoyed their bread courses would have been a kind gesture.
As for my Star Rating
GF menu: 0 stars
Staff Knowledge: 0 stars
Presented the dish as GF: 0 stars (although some were presented GF others were presented as safe and they taken away due to lack of confidence of it being truly GF)
Food taste and presentation: 1/2 star (What I ate was good, some things I wasn't even able to taste, and some things that were served to me left questions as to the safety of the ingredients and I avoided)
1/2 star, my lowest rating for the highest rated restaurant in San Diego.
The Un-Gluten Guy
P.S. I came home a had a slice of toasted Udi's with peanut butter and a glass of milk.
Update 8/8/12 After not feeling well for days I was trying to find out what it was that contaminated me. After a number of emails the head chef emailed me an answer to my question.
He said that the green curry was not gluten free.
They poisoned me.