I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Traveling with food allergies can be daunting! I’ll be the first to admit that, when our son was younger, I was a nervous wreck with every trip we took. Even after managing them for over a decade, I still get nervous and need to do my research, contact restaurants and venues, and be prepared with edible backup. During a recent hosted trip out to St. Simons Island, I dutifully employed the regular routine and, while I cannot wait to share how truly captivating this Golden Isle is, I was even more ecstatic to share how ECHO St. Simons, the restaurant at King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, was able to accommodate our tween’s food allergies AND his healthy appetite.
I was the guest of King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. While I was provided accommodations and meals in exchange for my review, all opinions in this post are 100% mine and mine alone. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Visiting St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island is a gem of a destination located just off the east coast of Georgia. With its rich history, gorgeous coastline and genuine southern hospitality, it is a charming place to visit any time of the year whether as a romantic getaway, retreat with girlfriends, golf escape or family vacation.
Hubby, the youngest and I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in this part of the Golden Isles with a stay at the picturesque King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. This was a bucket list item for me as I’ve had several friends rave about this hotel for nearly a year now. To say I was eager to visit? Well, that’s a little bit of an understatement.
While the Teen had to stay home due to high school theater obligations, the rest of us hopped into the car and drove the three to four hours on a Friday evening up I-95 to spend the next two days enjoying the resort, exploring the island and dining like a king, a queen and a prince ourselves.
King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
While I really want to dive into the amenities of this historic resort, it’s probably better to do so in a separate post as it truly does deserve its own attention. However, for the sake of setting the scene, let me quickly paint you as vivid a picture as I can.
First – close your eyes and picture the beach. Envision the sun coming up over the horizon. Listen closely as the waves crash against the sand. You may even hear birds in the background as they fly over the shallow part of the ocean. Sound exhilarating and enticing? Oh, my goodness! It was!! Believe it or not, this is the ONLY resort on the island that can claim such a gorgeous and spectacular oceanfront view.
For over 80 years, the King and Prince Resort has been serving guests from near and far. First designed as a seaside dance club back in the 1930s, the hotel transformed into a naval coast-watching and training station during World War II. In 1947, it returned to resort status and, over the years, has undergone extensive renovations to become the exquisite property it is today. It boasts nautical decor, an elegant open lobby, an inviting fireplace and breathtaking oceanfront views. It has standard rooms to beach villas to resort residences, providing something for everyone who wishes to stay. Of course, nothing beats the southern hospitality and superior guest service demonstrated by the King and Prince staff. This was something we experienced firsthand during our trip.
As referenced above, one purpose of our stay was so that we could share our experience with regard to food allergy accommodations. When we’re traveling and come across a place that truly does “get it,” I like to make sure others are aware of our story. Why? Well, I vividly remember looking for recommendations and reviews myself when we were first starting out with food allergies. It meant the world to me to read other’s stories and know where to go and where not to go. Unfortunately, those stories were not as easy to find as they are today. Pssst – I still do that kind of research!!
For this trip to King and Prince Resort, we decided to keep ourselves restricted to eating at ECHO, the restaurant located onsite. This offered us the focused opportunity to truly speak to the way they would handle our son’s dietary restrictions, as well as provide both the chefs and our son the chance to get to know each other during our stay.
Before I dive into the chefs and the food, I want to share some really unique things about this establishment. For instance, we were curious and fascinated by the story behind the actual name of the eatery. ‘ECHO’ actually stems from the island’s profound naval history. At the time World War II was in play, radar was a fairly new form of technology, not to mention critical. As radar repeatedly sent electromagnetic waves in and out (creating an echo, of sorts), the ebb and flow of these waves ultimately became “the heartbeat” of the War’s impact on St. Simons Island.
We thought that was pretty intriguing…
Another tidbit of information that caught our attention was that the spot where we had breakfast and dinner during our stay had been the former location for officers’ quarters, classrooms and towers used to amplify signals during the second World War. Being married to a retired army officer, this, for obvious reasons, tickled his ears just a little.
The ECHO Chefs
Chef James Flack is the Resort Executive Chef. Chef James grew up around culinary experts and spent many years in and out of the kitchen. In 2008, his passion to cook took shape and, in 2013, he arrived at King and Prince ready to serve hungry guests with excellence. Since then, he has been diligently working to draw in more of the locals and improve upon whatever he can to create an amazing dining experience for all who visit the resort.
Prior to our stay, I actually had the chance to speak with Chef James. Let me tell you – THIS always means the world to me as a food allergy parent. Knowing that you can connect with someone in charge before reaching your destination truly does set the tone, as well as help to keep everybody involved on the same sheet of music (or should I say plate…that makes a little more sense in this scenario, right?).
Chef James was extremely patient, understanding and compassionate when it came to listening to our story. Over the phone, he shared with me the process they employ when serving guests with food allergies and he was also very articulate when discussing his aim to ensure safety for everyone who dines at ECHO. Together, we reviewed our particular situation, discussed dietary options, brainstormed alternatives and noted things to avoid. All in all, it was a very informative conversation between the two of us and the best way to put my mind at ease at that point.
Now – that doesn’t mean we didn’t go prepared for this trip!
It’s important to note that we always travel having taken various scenarios into consideration. As is our standard routine, we did pack a few sandwiches, some fruit and a variety of snacks just in case something went awry or our Tween did not feel comfortable. This is done for EVERY trip we take ~ and I highly recommend it for all food allergy families. It just makes sense to be prepared, friends, especially if traveling with littles. The last thing we want to do on a trip is:
- Have to take an unnecessary trip to the store (never mind one that carries allergy-safe options).
- Have to go to the emergency room
- Let someone starve (well, that’s not really going to happen, but it fit).
Fortunately, our gorgeous room at King and Prince had a refrigerator and we were able to store cold foods in there so that they didn’t spoil. Now, even though we went with food at the ready, Chef James still gave us the confidence during that initial phone conversation that he and the other two chefs on property – Taylor and Nick – would be able to accommodate our son’s food allergies. In fact, after our chat, Chef James went a step further and emailed me his contact information so that I could connect with him in case any other questions arose and so that I could let him know when we arrived at the resort.
Our Arrival ~ Room Service or Restaurant?
Sadly, we arrived late to the resort, somewhere around 7 or 8 PM, I believe. That’s what we get for leaving central Florida on a Friday during rush hour. When we did arrive, the check-in process was easy and we found our room without issue. We were staying in a beautiful oceanfront room with two queen beds, a pull-out sofa and a spectacular view of the ocean (though we didn’t truly get to see it until the next morning). After a little live Facebook coverage and some extra video and photography, we discussed whether we would try room service or simply head down to the restaurant.
Yes, Chef James said room service would not be an issue with our son’s food allergies.
In the end, we actually made the decision to head down to the restaurant. This allowed our first experience with one of the chefs to be face to face. It just sounded like the right way to start things off.
Our First Meal at ECHO
I had emailed Chef James just prior to our arrival to the resort itself to let him know we were just about there. Since his shift was just ending, he said he would inform Chef Taylor and he once again reiterated to us that we would be in very capable hands.
Fast forward to our arrival at the restaurant. We approached the hostess podium and let her know that Chef Taylor was aware we were on our way. As we do with EVERY restaurant, we then asked that the chef come to our table so that we could speak with him directly regarding our son’s food allergies.
No worries, no troubles, all squared away!
The hostess led us to our table, where we near immediately met our lovely server, Lareisha. We caught her up to date on the situation and then began to review the menu. Since the Tween and I had taken a peek at it days prior, he pretty much knew what he wanted that night. He was all about that Straight Up Burger, but he had a few questions for Chef Taylor before making that his definitive order.
**For more information on the ECHO menu, click here.
Meeting Chef Taylor
Chef Taylor arrived at our table, introduced himself and began listening intently to our story. He was already keenly aware of the situation and even shared with us his personal connection to food allergies. This obviously made us feel we were in competent hands. In fact, he made the Tween comfortable enough to where he asked his own questions about his order.
It had been discussed over the phone with Chef James that the bun used for the burgers was a brioche bun, which does have an egg component to it. Obviously, that is a no-go for our little guy and an alternative had to be found. Chef James had mentioned grabbing safe buns for him, but wasn’t picking them up until morning. So, the Tween had his own idea.
“Is it possible to use some kind of lettuce to create a wrap for the burger?”
Brilliant, kiddo! And yes, Chef Taylor thought that would work very well. Sure enough, our son’s plate came out with his medium well-done burger wrapped in a beautiful bed of healthy green lettuce. It was a perfect solution.
Oh, and the fries? Unfortunately, ECHO does not have a dedicated fryer. However, Chef Taylor was very willing to pan fry some freshly cut potatoes separately so that our son could enjoy those with his burger.
I mean, what’s a burger without fries, right???
FYI: If a chef is willing to do this for you, please note that they take a little extra time to prepare. We were well aware of this fact, so we just made sure to get our son’s order in first so that Chef Taylor could work on that right away.
Of course, it’s a common concern among food allergy families that the individual with dietary restrictions would have very few options from which to choose off the menu. Trust me ~ been there, done that. At the same time, it’s also very easy to become attached to the familiar and those things we know that are safe (grilled chicken breast, broccoli and mashed potatoes, anyone??).
Fortunately, Chef James assured us that this would not be the case at ECHO and, to our surprise, our son decided that he would take a few chances this visit ~ all at the promise that they could be made safely for him.
So, during our stay at King and Prince Resort, our son tried TWO different tastes he had NEVER tried before in his life.
For one, he ordered venison chops as an appetizer – and LOVED them!!!! He honestly could not get enough, so he ordered them TWICE during our stay. Hubby and I actually had them, too, and they were absolutely done to perfection. They were sooooooo good.
For one of his entrees, the Tween ordered Blackened Salmon, which wasn’t a new taste for him. We make salmon at home once or twice a month. What was new, however, was the bed of purple grits upon which the salmon had been placed.
Yeah…I’m still wondering what gave them the purple color!
The grits had gouda cheese mixed in, which added a very different flavor to the dish. The Tween admits to liking them, especially when he combined it with a bite of his salmon. However, I think we are a “one-and-done” on that one. Hey – I’m just proud of him for trying something new that was food allergy-safe!
Breakfast was easy, as our son was just interested in having bacon, sausage and fruit. That was a very easy order to accommodate for Chef James, whom we finally met the morning of our first full day there.
When we dined there for lunch, our son tried the Southern Club Sandwich, which had prosciutto, turkey, bacon, a fried green tomato, pimento spread and arugula. Now, this sandwich normally comes with lemon mayo. However, it’s pretty common knowledge that those with egg allergies cannot have mayonnaise. Chef Nick, the last of the three chefs we had the opportunity to meet, said the sandwich was flavorful and moist enough without the mayo, so our son took a chance.
Chef Nick even took steps to fry the green tomato separately and safely, along with another delicious batch of pan-fried potatoes.
A few bites in, however, our son began to develop a little concern over a little itching over his top lip. His tongue and throat were fine. He had no hives. He was not coughing or choking. There were no true signs of a reaction, but I think this concerned him enough to stop. He had already devoured venison chops as his appetizer and the pan-fried potatoes were pretty much gone, as well. So, our son was certainly not walking away with an empty stomach. He states he liked the sandwich. However, I think this may have been a situation where his anxiety got the best of him.
When a moment like this happens:
We’ve been doing this for over twelve years ~ and try very hard to never let our guard down. The key is to always be attentive and prepared. Know your own situation. For us, anaphylaxis has historically occurred right away. That is not always the case, though, for everyone. With that in mind, we had a very strong feeling we weren’t dealing with a big reaction, but we still took it seriously. Chef Nick and our server, Kristen, were extremely attentive, responsive and compassionate. We didn’t create any kind of a scene. They answered questions we had and checked on us often to ensure the Tween was okay ~ and he was. We washed him down, removed the plate, wiped down his part of the table and simply watched him. He honestly cleared up within minutes. In fact, he kept eating everything else!
Now – why did I share that story with you? If it wasn’t a true reaction, why divulge that information? My reasons are simple. I write a blog where I am sharing our personal experiences. I want you to know they are authentic and real. Not every situation will be perfect, but not every situation will be the mistake of a chef or server. We are too quick to place blame. This was not anyone’s mistake. We had complete confidence in all three chefs and believe they did all they could to accommodate our son’s food allergies. The situation was not dire and did not turn into an emergency. Phew! However, we were very prepared and took appropriate measures to resolve the situation.
Was I ready to call 911 if needed? To administer epinephrine? You bet! However, we knew right from the moment our son mentioned something to us that he was okay. He just needed to step back and away for a moment.
Should an emergency arise, however, administer epinephrine and call 911. I had complete confidence the staff at King and Prince would have been right by our side the entire time if we needed them to be.
To be completely honest, we are chalking this weekend up to be a HUGE food allergy success story. The chefs were present, understanding, protective and creative. They even went above and beyond to prepare foods a little differently so that our son didn’t feel left out.
During the course of writing this piece, I turned and asked the Tween if he would feel comfortable eating at ECHO again. His response was quick and definitive. “Yes!” He loved the venison chops, the raspberry sorbet, the lettuce wrapped burger and the blackened salmon. In fact, there were several other dishes he wanted to try, as well. What mattered most is that he conveyed complete confidence in all three of the chefs we met during our stay there.
This is from a child who has previously experienced anaphylaxis. He has no desire to do so again and, thus, must feel confident in a chef’s abilities before he dines.
A Few Tips for Food Allergy Dining
What I am about to share is, by no means, exhaustive. In fact, this just pertains to the dining aspect of travel. I’ll cover food allergy travel in general in another post. Besides, I’m confident there are others who have great tips to add and things I will just forget to mention. I am certainly not a medical professional, nor someone who would condone/encourage the ingestion of foods that could be potentially dangerous or life-threatening. I am just a mom trying doing her best to help her son who has food allergies live a full, experienced life as safely as possible. Sharing our food allergy experiences is meant to provide others, especially parents of children with food allergies, with stories to which they can refer when planning their own family travel plans. It’s up to you, however, to make an informed decision whether or not these venues are safe enough for you and your particular food allergy / dietary restricted situation.
THAT BEING SAID…..here are my tips should you be visiting and dining at King and Prince Resort (can be translated to any dining experience)!
- Connect with the Chef ahead of time. Use this opportunity to explain your situation and severity of the food allergies. You can also discuss options early and get a good feel for who would be responsible for that food allergy safe meal.
- Upon arrival to the venue, mention to the host / hostess that you have already spoken to the chef, that he/she is awaiting your arrival and that you would like to speak with him/her directly due to the severity of those food allergies.
- Talk to your server, as well, about everything mentioned above.
- Reiterate your situation to the Chef upon his/her arrival to the table. There is nothing wrong with overstating it because this could be a life-threatening situation.
- Ensure the food allergy safe plate will be delivered separately.
- Always be watchful while eating. We casually ask our son several times during the meal how his tongue, lips and throat feel.
- Before you leave, let the restaurant manager know how it went. A positive experience needs to be shared!!!
- One more thing – DO NOT EAT UNLESS YOU HAVE AN EPINEPHRINE AUTO-INJECTOR (OR TWO) IN YOUR POSSESSION! Just want to make that clear….
Have you been to St. Simons Island? Have you had the chance to stay at King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort? Stay tuned, as I have more to share on this venue, but do not hesitate to check their site for more detailed information. We had a fabulous time and would go back again in a heartbeat. We appreciate all the attention paid to our son’s situation and look forward to dining with Chef James, Taylor and Nick again at some point in the future should we have opportunity.
King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
- Address: 201 Arnold Road, St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522
- Phone: (912) 638-3631
- Reservations: (800) 342-0212
- Fax: (912) 638-7699
- Website: https://kingandprince.com
- Social Channels:
ECHO at St. Simons
- Address: 101 Downing Street St. Simons Island, GA 31522
- Phone: (912) 268-5967
- Hours of Operation:
- Monday thru Sunday 7:00am – 10pm
- Bar open all day
- Fax: (912) 638-7699
- Website: https://www.echostsimons.com/
- Social Channels:
Psst – My friend Tania from lolalambchops.com has a great piece where she talks about the best restaurants on St. Simons Island, including one that REALLY seemed to take care of guests with food allergies! We’re going there next trip!!!
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