Once upon a time, a food allergy was almost a sure-fire sign to stay eating at home. In short, restaurants just weren’t equipped to deal with them, and it meant that the whole experience was somewhat blighted.
To say that the game has changed would be a gross understatement. If we hone in on the celiac “market” so to speak, it is clear that more and more people are being diagnosed with this allergy and subsequently need to avoid, at all costs, gluten. Then, there is the intolerance group who while they might be able to have a small amount of gluten, it’s doing their body no favours and in an ideal world they would avoid it.
London in particular has really come to terms with this. As we all know, this is a hotspot for restaurants, and one only has to venture to Covent Garden to see this in full flow. The majority of chains and independents here will cater for those suffering from an allergy, meaning that your job suddenly becomes a lot easier.
Following on from the above, we will now take a look at some of the steps you can take to make your dining experience in the capital seamless if you suffer from a food allergy.
It might pay to research beforehand
Granted, it’s not the ideal way to start a night, but a little research before you take to the restaurant can go a long way. Simply scouring over the restaurant’s website and looking for their allergen information, or just their menu, can point you in the right direction and tell you whether or not that particular establishment is going to cater for your needs.
Why should you carry out this step before stepping foot outside the house? When you get to a busy restaurant, the last thing you want to do is feel pressured to make your order. Whether it’s from the people you are dining out with, or the restaurant staff themselves, you want to make an informed choice and this might mean gathering all of the information long before you walk through the restaurant’s doors.
Does the restaurant have a specific menu?
You might ask this question during your “research phase”, or maybe even when you arrive at the restaurant. As we have already alluded to, most restaurants appreciate the market for allergen-free food and have specific menus on hand to combat this. Check to see if they have one suitable for you to make your job of ordering a whole lot easier. If they do, it’s another big sign that they take allergens seriously.
Make sure you let the restaurant staff know
The dish you have opted for might be completely free of allergens, but still make sure that you tell your waiter that you have a particular intolerance. While your menu choice should do this for you (and often does in the modern-day restaurant industry), by telling them you will make sure. Not only that, but you can make sure they understand any concerns about cross-contamination (i.e., an allergen from another dish interfering with yours).
Continue the questions after your meal arrives
Again, it’s not ideal, but another good piece of advice is to check that your meal is totally free of allergens when it arrives. Following all of the “prep” work you have carried out, it most probably will be. However, due to the sheer volume of dishes restaurants have to get through, double-checking is never a bad step to take.