Monday, November 23, 2009

Gluten Free Atlantis

We just returned from the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. We all had a great time. It's a perfect place to take kids; in some ways it's better than Disney in that it is smaller and more manageable. For example, we never had to take a bus to go anywhere. We even walked to the Dolphin Encounter. (a must do!)

One of the reasons we chose the Atlantis was that my mother and I are Celiacs and must eat gluten-free. We had heard that Atlantis was very accommodating.

I filled out a lot of paperwork before hand to let them know we would be arriving and need a special diet, but the restaurants didn't seem to know we were coming (unlike Disney, where the servers already know before you walk in the door). Nevertheless, everywhere we went they were very accommodating. We spoke with the head chef at each place we went, and they reviewed the menu (or buffet) with us. They were also willing to make special requests -- for example, they had a stir fry station at the Marketplace Buffet. Since the grill was "contaminated" by soy sauce (which contains wheat), the chef prepared our stir fry in a separate pan. Delicious!

Every place we went had tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, so it was easy to eat healthy, gluten free food. We did have some difficulty with finding Quick Service places to eat. I had a hamburger without the bun at a fast food stand, but Mom preferred to skip lunch rather than risk cross-contamination.

Several sit-down restaurants offered us gluten-free bread and/or pancakes. My advice -- say no. They were pasty and awful. Stick with "real" food.

Places we ate:
Marketplace (breakfast and dinner) -- incredible selection, good food, head chef was extremely accommodating.
Water's Edge buffet (breakfast) -- not as big a selection as Marketplace, but plenty of good food including lots of fresh fruit. I didn't bother to talk to a chef here as I just ate hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and yogurt.
Bahamian Club (dinner) -- expensive "fine dining" restaurant. The food was very good and the head chef came out and talked to us personally. Since we could not eat the onion side dish that normally come with the dinner entrees, she made us side dishes from veggies she prepared herself, including some roasted garlic, which was absolutely perfect.
Bimini Road -- Caribbean-themed restaurant that falls under their "relaxed dining" category. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was fun. I had Chicken Mojo and the chef prepared my veggies separately again. I think Mom had fish. The chef made a special dessert of grilled pineapple, since we couldn't eat anything on the desert menu.

All in all, I think Atlantis is an excellent destination for the gluten-free traveler, as well as whole lot of fun.


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