By Henry Ehrlich
One of the great advantages to having a child in the restaurant and wine business is being invited now and then to something called “family and friends” night at new fine-dining establishments. This is the culinary equivalent to dress rehearsal on Broadway, a night or two before opening. I had this privilege a week ago or so at a new place called Runner & Stone, at 285 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, which bills itself as a neighborhood bakery, restaurant and bar. The name is explained thus: “’Runner & Stone’ refers to the two stones used to grind grain in a traditional mill, the runner stone and the base stone.”
However, I’m not here to talk about the food, ambience, and drink (all of which were first class). Rather to an element of the service. At the end of our meal, my companions and I were presented with detailed questionnaires about our experience, and one question caught my eye. It asked about whether our inquiries to our waitress about any food allergies or other dietary matters were answered fully and any conflicts resolved. So I sought out the general manager to discuss it. When I informed him why I was interested, he took me to his work area and showed me a spreadsheet with all the menu items down one side and all the major dietary issues across the top—not just the major allergens but kosher, garlic, onions, and vegetarian. For each food and possible dietary issue, recorded by the waiter during ordering, there were instructions to the cooks on how to alter each recipe to make it acceptable and/or safe.
The general manager told me that it was particularly important to him that this part of the operation be done correctly because he was himself allergic to both peanuts and shellfish. He said, furthermore, that if prospective diners call for reservations and make their considerations clear ahead of time, even more can be done. Bon appetit.
Runner & Stone
285 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
718-576-3360 | email@example.com