Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Sassy Pig BBQ July 19, 2010

I’d been looking forward to going to Sassy Pig for a couple of months, right after I’d heard from some gluten-free source that they had lots of gluten-free options. soon after, I did my gluten-free ribs blog, and spoke with someone at the restaurant, who seemed to really know a lot about it, and very readily. having these two experiences, I was prepared for a great gluten-free experience. so I was a little surprised when I got there, and they didn’t seem to know much about what was gluten-free. but I have to say that what they lacked in knowledge, they made up for in heart. here’s what happened:

we walked up to place our order, and the girl behind the counter didn’t have any idea what I was talking about when I asked if the meats were all gluten-free (as I was told over the phone before the ribs blog, but wanted to confirm). she ran in back to ask someone, and came back saying that the rubs were gluten-free, so all of the meats should be fine. I went ahead and ordered the two-entree dinner: ribs and pulled pork. (as per gluten-free side dishes, I never did find out which were safe, because when I asked the girl in a follow-up question about which sides were okay, she had the same bewildered look, but this time she didn’t run back to ask. so if you go there, you’ll have to ask for yourself).

when my meal came out, someone who seemed more knowledgeable brought it to our table. and I asked if both BBQ sauces at our table were safe (I thought that I’d confirmed this on the phone previously as well), but she wasn’t sure, and ran back to ask the cook. the cook thought so, but wasn’t entirely sure himself, so I went in the back with him to read the recipe. the recipe included worcestershire sauce, which I knew may contain gluten. so we went further in the back to read the ingredients on the bottle. sure enough, wheat flour was listed. then we looked at the ingredients on the BBQ sauce’s base sauce, in case I could just use that, but there were a couple of questionable ingredients on there, so I just decided to be safe and skip the BBQ sauce entirely.

the chef said that it would be easy enough to switch brands of worchestershire sauce, and I believe he was going to check on the questionable ingredients in the base sauce, so that they could make their BBQ sauce gluten-free. so it’s really nice of them to care and make such an effort. but unless you can confirm that this has happened over the phone, I’d suggest you bring your own BBQ sauce with you if you go there.

so I went back to my table, disappointed that I was going to have to eat my plain meat. and then I was even more thankful that I’d toasted a piece of gluten-free bread ahead of time, to bring along for my pulled pork. but I must say that the meat was actually quite delicious, even without any sauce! it was really tender and moist, and I didn’t even miss the sauce much at all. so that’s a testament to their food!

I realized later that since there was such confusion, I really should’ve looked at the ingredients in the rub myself too, just to be sure. I didn’t get sick, but I think I’d double-check next time anyway, just in case.

overall it was a mixed experience. although they weren’t quite prepared with the knowledge of what’s gluten-free, they were very willing to help me and adapt their ingredients in the future. they were really thankful that I’d come in and asked the questions that I did, so that they could learn more. and the food was really good, even without the BBQ sauce. so although they don’t quite have the kinks worked out yet, they sounded like they were really going to try. so I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you should go there or not, depending on how conservative you are with your restaurant choices. but it’s definitely got potential (and great food)!


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