Restaurant Review: Coast, Oceanfront Dining

Disney is excellent handling food allergies. Restaurants stock allergy-friendly foods and chefs know how to prepare them safely. I thought this was a unique Disney attribute. Then I found Coast, and enjoyed a delicious dinner, made by an allergen-train chef, right on the ocean. 

When planning my recent trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, I did significant research beforehand to try and find places that could make me a celiac-safe, plant-based meal. Let me tell you, I read a LOT of online reviews and called many different restaurants.

In my searching, I came across a Find Me Gluten Free review of Coast, Oceanfront Dining, proclaiming, “Felt like Disney!” Being a Disney-lover, I knew what this meant. The restaurant and staff knew how to handle food allergies and stocked allergen-free food to serve customers. Excited about the possibility, I called Coast, which is located in the Sea Pines Beach Club, and inquired about dining there with food allergies. I immediately was transferred to the resort’s head chef, who specializes in food allergies.

After explaining my dietary restrictions, the chef came up with a variety of options. The roasted veggie sandwich could be made vegan, and is already served on local gluten-free bread (although it is not made in a gluten-free bakery). A “fabulous” roasted vegetable salad. Or a pasta primavera with LENTIL pasta. So, he assured me that he could more than accommodate my needs. Needless to say, I eagerly made a reservation.

When we arrived, my family and I were first stunned by the idyllic setting. Coast is located right on the beach and overlooks the ocean as its name suggests. It has a giant outdoor seating area with a large bar and live music. We asked to be seated outdoors so we could fully soak up the restaurant’s glorious atmosphere.

As soon as we were seated, our waiter, Brian, came over and acknowledged that he was aware of my dietary restrictions and allergy needs. He highly suggested the lentil pasta with vegetables of my choice. I asked him if he knew the brand of the lentil pasta, as many are produced in the same facility as wheat pasta, and if they had a gluten-free and vegan tomato sauce to pair with it. He said he’d check with the chef on both.

A few minutes later, he return with a giant bag of penne. It was from a large legume and potato products food service retailer, who supplies to well-known brands. The specific pasta is made of lentil, white rice, and pea protein. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the pasta supplied to Modern Table for their “Complete Protein” pasta. Since the retailer only makes legume and potato products, I assumed that it would be safe from cross-contamination.

I requested several of my favorite vegetables – swiss chard, asparagus, broccolini and carrots – in the tomato sauce that was confirmed as vegan. While we waited for our food, Brian was very talkative and raved how the chef was specially certified to handle food allergies, having gone through a prestigious allergy training program. He also explained that he himself had a deadly shellfish allergy and that even his hands blistered when he touch shellfish. So, he completely understood the importance of taking precautions when dealing with people with severe allergies and intolerances and was very proud of Coast’s ability to cater to those visitors.

The pasta dinner he soon brought out for me was spectacular. I can’t tell you the last time I had pasta at a restaurant, for fear of cross-contamination and general lack of vegan, gluten-free pasta availability. I’ve NEVER had the choice of lentil pasta, which is loaded with protein and is a complete plant-based protein at that.

I savored every bite. Many times when I eat out, I always feel slightly envious of others’ meals. Not this time. I didn’t feel like I was “missing out” on anything. I had the perfect gluten-free, plant-based meal prepared by a chef who took the time to be educated on food allergy cooking and kept ingredients on hand to make sure no one felt left out when dining at the restaurant.

Due to this experience, I absolutely cannot wait to return to Hilton Head to go eat at Coast. This is a must for anyone with a food allergy or another speciality diet, as well as being absolutely ideal for vegans. Plus, it couldn’t have a better view!

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