I had been to Austin’s Restaurant here in Louisville maybe three times in my entire life. I couldn’t remember much about it, other than I liked the spaciousness of the inside and that they held a lot of banquets/parties there.
So when my mom wanted to go there for her birthday celebration with our family, I decided to check out the menu.
They are known for their “contemporary Southern cuisine” which unfortunately means a lot of meat and cheese. While they do offer a “garden veggie burger” I wasn’t sure if this would contain dairy, like some other restaurants’ veggie burger choices do. (I can’t tell you how much I wish Buffalo Wild Wings would do me a solid and at least opt for the Boca vegan burger if I’m going to pay $7 for something I could make at home)
So I emailed the address listed on their website to ask about vegan options. I got almost an immediate response from the general manager, Adam, who informed me that most items on their menu do indeed contain meat and/or dairy, but that the kitchen staff would be more than happy to make a special dish for me.
I was really excited by this response, not just the timeliness, but the fact that he was willing to work with me. I’ve emailed places before and either gotten no response, a generic response indicating they did not even read my email, or in the case of Applebee’s, my email was answered by a phone call from a person who did not speak very good English.
Last Sunday when we went to Austin’s, I was the last to order and I was a little nervous. It’s intimidating when you are with 8 other people and you are the only one with a special request. I was also a little unsure of what I wanted and had hoped the waitress would recommend something or ask the chef/kitchen staff what they usually make if they receive a request such as this. She told me if I knew what I wanted, they’d make it, but they couldn’t just pick something for me. Duh, it was silly of me to think that, right?
Luckily, she sent the kitchen manager out who suggested their spinach pasta dish, minus the chicken and cheese, and with a ton of veggies added in their place. Sounds good to me!
This dish was delicious! The mushrooms were probably my favorite part, but all the veggies were just so fresh and went very well with the olive oil-garlic sauce. They even threw some asparagus in there. It was also great because I had enough for lunch that day plus leftovers!
While I was a little worried at first, I ended up being very happy with my dining experience and even my family was impressed that a restaurant would go out of their way for someone with special dietary needs. A lot of times, I am afraid to ask so I will just order a salad or a plain baked potato. But I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone this time.
If this is how I plan to eat forever, then I’d better get used to it!
Have you ever made a special request at a restaurant? How did it go?