Our family is a big fan of P.F. Chang's. We were before our son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 6 years ago, and we've become even bigger fans since his diagnosis. It's one of the few places our two sons, now ages 8 and 10, order something other than a burger or steak! It's the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken that had them jumping for joy every time we said we were going to P.F. Chang's for a meal.
Well, imagine our surprise on Saturday when we went to our local P.F. Chang's in Fairfax, Virginia for lunch. Our hostess mentioned that the gluten-free menu (click Gluten Free Menu on index at top of page) was now located in a different spot on their three-paneled menu. Instead of being on the back, it's now on the inside right panel. So, I opened up the menu and immediately noticed that the menu looked smaller. But perhaps it was just the new formatting...let's see, they still have the lettuce wraps as an appetizer, a soup, lots of entrees -- including the many gluten-free beef entrees they added to the menu a little over a year ago -- and even two GF desserts. OK, good. Let's make sure all our favorite entrees are still on there...lemon chicken...where is it? No, it can't be...it's not on here. OK...look again, S-L-O-W-L-Y...Nope, not on here anymore!
So, I asked our server when she came back to our table, and she immediately assured me that we could still order it, but that they'd taken it off the menu -- not just off the GF menu, but the regular menu as well. Wow. That was a shock. I figured it must be a hugely popular item. I asked her the reason, and she said they'd taken several entrees off the menu. She then sent the manager, Operating Partner Philip Tull, over to our table to give me the full story...
Apparently, P.F. Chang's is looking to get "back to their roots," so to speak, and do what they do best -- and simultaneously streamline and simplify things in the kitchen. That resulted in removing several items from their regular menu. He said the ONLY item to be removed from the Gluten Free Menu was Philip's Better Lemon Chicken. (Unfortunate for us...and for all the other GF folks out there who were hooked on it!) However, he again reassured us that we could request it, and they'd happily make it. This is apparently the case in any P.F. Chang's nationwide, but I question how long this will last. Will they always have the ingredients on hand to make it if it's not formally on the menu? The Operating Partner mentioned that there were a few dishes removed from the menu that required ingredients unique to that particular dish, so it didn't make sense to keep them on the menu. I'm wondering if that was the case with the lemon chicken.
Mr. Tull did say that, although the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken was not one of their most popular dishes, it was indeed unique in that it was free of virtually every possible allergen and therefore very popular with a growing and important part of their customer base. I'd also imagine it's a big hit with other kids like ours who are wary of some of the spicier dishes offered at P.F. Chang's. In my opinion, it was a very kid-friendly dish.
I would encourage everyone to spread the word about this news (Reblog, Tweet, Like, or forward the link for this post) to your gluten-free friends that enjoy P.F. Chang's. And contact P.F. Chang's corporate office, as I'm planning to do later today. If enough of us voice our desire to continue ordering the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken, perhaps they'll formally put it back on the menu. Having it available by "special request" makes me concerned it will eventually NOT be available -- and those not "in the know" will never know it's an option on the menu so eventually there won't be much of a demand.
I'd love to hear YOUR opinion of the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken...or what your favorite gluten-free items are at P.F. Chang's. Feel free to leave a comment below.
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