The sadness of dining out

Where has the pleasure gone….

I’d love to sit here and tell you all that every meal out recently has been a wonderful pleasure, but that would be a lie

It appears the fun and excitiment of dining out has dwindled turning into stress and sadness in most places.

Now don’t get me wrong I know how much the Covid-19 pandemic has inputed itself into daily life. My role as the infection control lead in a healthcare setting has multiplied severals times over, so I can imagin in the restaurant sector it has impacted them greatly.

This shouldn’t however give the restaurants the excuse to lie to customers and falsly advertise food they are providing.

I’m aware that due to current Covid restrictions changes have had to be made, one being the changing over of menus. Pre-Covid menus were almost always resusable as now they are disposable. This is to eliminate the multipul handling of one item hence redusing the risk of Covid being spead.

Brilliant.

Well it would be if they put the correct infomation on it.

Another way the restaurant services are managing Covid restrictions is asking people to order their meals online, either via their own websites or by a downloadable app’s like Uber Eats.

Again, brilliant idea if they put all the correct infomation on their chosen internet sites.

How are we supposed to know we can eat at your restaurants if you don’t inform us of your allergy suitable options!

Oh the lies….

Anybody with a food allergies will tell you that dining out can be an anxiety provoking task at the best of times, the thought that they will miss understand your needs and they wont take your diagnosis seriously is horrible.

Add that “normal” anxiety feeling to the fact that places are now not documenting allergy suitable meals correctly on their menus is horrendous and really quiet offensive.

If I had a pound for everytime someone finds out my food issues they state if you eat gluten I bet you get “a little farty” I would be writing this in the right wing of my gothic mansion.

The lack of understanding into food allergies remains and we the sufferes must continue to inform others of the seriousness of our needs and the risks they are putting us at by not appreciating them.

I haven’t been able to dine out as I would normally do due to Covid restrictions but 4/5 places Ive visited recently have all had issues with their menus.

Either their menus don’t display GF options online or their menus have stated there is a GF option but on further asking it isnt GF.

I would like to say again, that I appreciate the pressures that the restaurant sector must be under with all the resrictions they are to follow to remain open during this pandemic but i’m sure you guys (aka the restaurants owners) wouldn’t want your customers not coming to you, therefor not actually customers due to lack of infomation on your online menus or customers not returning due to lack of infomation provided in house and worse someone being posioned from a incorrectly labled menus.

I will be disscussing below 3 of the restaurants I have visted that I have had issues with. I won’t be reviewing their food as such but focusing more on their menu infomation.

This is not to show you guys their mistakes or bad mouth them but it is in hope that they see and other food providers see this post and can understand the effects their choices make on allergy diners.

Cafe Rouge….

I visited this restaurant as my boyfriend had got a Groupon offer and who doesnt like a good voucher!

I was aware that they offered a few GF options I wasnt aware that there was a seperate menu for a Groupon voucher. However, the GF options I was looking at were on both menus so not worries there.

The concern started when the lady at the front desk asked us did anyone have food allergies, I said yes, she informed us that the chips maybe an issues as there “not really that gluten free” as there fried with other items that are not gluten free.

Erm…. well they are or there not, there no “not really” when it comes to allergies.

Confidence all ready down a few points.

Next the menu, we were handed the disposable menus. No issues here all GF options shown by a lovely big GO (gluten free option avalible).

Perfect.

Until I asked for my meal. The spicy chickpea burger. The lady serving us checked her tablet and informed me that the burger wasnt GF.

However, the menu stated

“GF when served with salad and a GF bun”

So I asked her to check with the chef, on her return she again informed us that the burger wasn’t GF and could not explain why it was advertised as GF on their menu and apologised.

So basically the GF option for the spicy chickpea burger was a salad sandwich?!?

The other vegan option was the Black angus burger. Now heres where I got a bit confused…the beef burger can be made GF by swapping the bun and swapping chips for salad, ok. The vegan option is swappping the beef for a Oomph! burger and again salad. But what if your GF and vegan/veggie?

Well you can have a Oomph! burger and GF bun but they dont advertise that as an option, why?

The more concerning issues is that they are offering the spicy chickpea burger as a GF option when it isn’t, that scary and dangerous.

I expained this to the server and she just looked at me like I was speaking in a different language.

Stress is not what I wanted from a meal out but its what I got.

Punch Tarmey’s….

I had never heard of this chain until I visited the other week seeking out a suitable lunch spot.

As this was a unplanned visit so I had not been able to go onto their website to see what they offer before the visit.

On arrival we were given the disposable menu and they had noted the GF options by the traditional GF.

I understand that a GF vegan is not always the focus customer group restaurants are aiming to serve but most places now offer at least 1 option.

Unfortunatly Punch Tarmey’s did not. They did offer chunky chips and a GF halloumi burger as there vegitarian option.

So I ordered that thinking I’d give the halloumi to my friend and I would have a chip buttie!

The server then returned to ask me would I be ok if the chip were fried with other foods that were not GF?

Erm.. no

I spoke to him and stated that the chips aren’t actually GF if you are cooking them in oil with gluten in it. He then told me that they were GF as the packet said they were. He seemed somewhat miffed that I was challenging his infomation.

Oh dear, this old chesnut again

Again if I got a pound for everytime I had this disscussion I’d be sat in my right wing typing this from my second gothic mansion.

So yet again the GF vegan option was a blinking salad sandwich!

Aarrgghhhh!

Baltic Market….

I have heard great things about this place so when I was in the area I thought I’d pop in.

On reaching the front of house I was informed that I had to download Uber Eats a online ordering system. I would then be seated and we can order from the different street vendors via our phones to be delivered to our table or takeout.

Fine no worries.

That was me being optimistic that all the vendors had put all allergy information on the website.

Sorry optimism you again have been squished by reality!

Now its a good half and half with the Baltic Market vendors. Some have all the allergy markings some have none.

It would just be lovely to be informed either way.

I didn’t end up eating there sadly as the internet was rubbish and I couldn’t download Uber Eats in time before I had to leave. But I did look at there menu options when I came home and I will definanlty be going back as I think there is some tasty GF options to try.

I would just like to have all the vendors note their allergens and give all allergy sufferes the chance to be informed before visiting.

Infomation is priceless!

If you or your team would like any support, guidance or advice on how best to support customers with food allergies please click here for further information.

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