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Friendly restaurants for difficult eaters

By local-loner - 30 June 2010 82

Hi,

I know restaurant recommendations have been asked for in the past but I’m looking for something specific. I’m planning a birthday dinner for a group with a wide range of dietary requirements, including a few of my own. I’m after suggestions for restaurants that are good at catering to a wide range of dietary requirements. This doesn’t just meant ones that have vegetarian and gluten free options on the menu (although that is definitely important) but also restaurants that are flexible at adapting menu items for specific requests.

I’m particularly keen on finding places where the wait staff are knowledgable about what is in the food or willing to go and ask the chef. I’ve had some wait staff tell me something cannot be done in the past and when I’ve asked if they could perhaps ask the chef to suggest an alternative that meets requirements then they have come back and suggested exactly what I asked for in the first place. I got a yummy meal in the end but the attitude of the wait staff and the restaurant in general to be accommodating is what I’m really after.

Thank you for your help.

What’s Your opinion?


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Friendly restaurants for difficult eaters
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Drzaius 6:45 pm 12 Sep 10

Hi, I recommend Wagamama in Civic. They serve vegan asian foods and many of the dishes are based around rice so there’s no gluten. I also highly recommend Satis in Watson. They serve some great vegan meals only their opening hours are kind of limited. There’s also a great Sri Chinmoy cafe in Dickson that serves vegan meals, many with rice so they’re also gluten free. For dinner though, I think Wagamama would be the way to go.

Can I just say that I support your cause completely and I’m really disgusted by the amount of completely intolerant (excuse the pun) people on this forum. Have some compassion for goodness sake! For your fellow human beings and the animals that suffered in order for you to stuff your overweight body (more than 50% of the population by the way) with completely unnecessary foods for your own gustatory gratification.

Katietonia 1:14 pm 13 Jul 10

local-loner said :

First of all I would like to thank the one person who actually answered my question and recommended Augbergine. Secondly, thanks to the others for the advice in the calling first etc, I’ve done that but I was really hoping to avoid having to make too many phone calls by getting the recommendations.

Finally in response to all of you that think that I should stay at home because I have food allergies… do you understand that this is not a choice! My name isn’t ‘local-loner’ for no reason, it is because I find social outings often diffucult where food is involved and sometimes have to decline invitations if they are to restaurants where I would not be able to eat. Lots of people like to eat out as a social thing and restaurants have the option of simply saying no changes to their menu which I respect and simply do not eat there. What I was really hoping was not to receive a never ending torrent of abuse about my poor genetics but to get some useful recommendations of flexible restaurants. The reason I have so many friends with dietary issues is that we tend to group together because we are understanding of other people’s medical conditions etc.

And, for the record, one of my vegetarian friends is that way for religious reasons, for a hindu she is actually quite flexible in her beliefs – do you think she should be declined the option of eating out? I personally am not picky, I will eat anything and everything that does not make me sick. The only truely picky adults I’ve ever met are the ones that will not touch a meal if there is a green vegetable in it… but somehow they are catered for in lots of menus.

I shudder whenever someone invites me to dinner or a group outing in a restaurant for the reasons you have outlined above. Being intolerant to many foods and on a special diet makes it hard to find a place to eat outside of my own home. It is easier to just stay home most of the time. Somehow people are offended when you refuse to eat stuff that they are willing to shove into their faces because it makes you physically ill.

So apparently people with intolerances and allergies are “fussy eaters” now. I’d love to see you say that if you had to spend hours in pain after eating everyday. What kind of idiot WOULD do that?

BimboGeek 2:35 pm 12 Jul 10

pajs said :

I can recommend Rubicon as very good at handling food issues. I have had them adapt dishes to suit several different sets of issues in a mixed group, including the tricky combination of someone who cannot eat dairy and gluten.

Last time I went to Rubicon they “adapted” the salad to vegan by sending out a bowl of lettuce.

The best service I’ve ever had for a large group with complex requirements was at Ottoman. They take a great deal of pride in their work.

To those of you hospitality workers who are willing to be abusive to a customer with special requirements, bear in mind that vilification on the basis of religion or disability can be a serious crime and your employer may be liable.

rachy_kylie 11:57 am 11 Jul 10

I have to say I am VERY impressed with your creative responses! As a vegetarian, and a waitress I should be able to see both sides of the argument. However, people like me, are a pain in the butt. Do the research yourself, and don’t be lazy. Don’t ever offend a chef by trying to change what they have put on the menu- so much work goes into creating those meals and they actually know what “works” better than you! Maybe allergies are a “survival of the fittest” thing, we didn’t evolve into these wonderful creatures by accident! I say, try cooking your own meal. People will be far more impressed with cullinary skills, than your choice in restaurant.

sirocco 10:53 pm 07 Jul 10

grumpmachine said :

The reality is the human genome is rapidly evolving in relation to food

grumpmachine said :

Furthermore, Darwin’s term ‘survival of the fittest’ is generally miquoted by numerous bigots. It actually means, have you reproduced? Has your genetic map been passed on? If so, you are the fittest. It’s nothing to do with your actual health

How is the human genome “rapidly evolving” when any two bozos can (and often do) mate and reproduce without any of the selective pressures of a more difficult time.

Or, to put it another way, how are we rapidly evolving when 95% of us live well and truly past the time after which we reproduce successfully?

These seem to be two fairly conflicting statements.

If food or poor food choices are strong selective pressures (strong enough to change the genome of large human populations) then people who chose to utilise these foods will not be around, not live long enough, to reproduce and will not pass on their genes to the next generation.

This is clearly not the case. Things like lactose intolerance may make life very uncomfortable for someone, it does not, however, stop people from living to an age where they are able to reproduce successfully.

Anaphylactic shock and things requiring an epi-pen are something different. But the mere fact that we as a society have provided these sorts of people with epi-pens means that we as a population will not “evolve” to adapt to anaphylaxis – it may end up quite the contrary – we may, through a process called random genetic drift, actually promote more the existance of more people prone to anaphylaxic reactions (it’s just as likely to not do this but it may happen nonetheless)

just my two cents…

(at 11pm on a wednesday…)

Pandy 7:08 pm 07 Jul 10

And here is the nutshell (sorry) of what the NSW Gov says:

“If the staff can’t answer your questions or don’t seem certain, it’s better to order something else or eat elsewhere.”

If you going to die eating a nut, would you really place your life in the hands of a snotty nosed part time staffress?

grumpmachine 6:48 pm 07 Jul 10

What the irate respondents have revealed is a total lack of scientific knowledge. The lactase gene evolved in specific population groups as recently as 10,000 years ago, and further research is investigating the possibility of genetic therapy via diet. The reality is the human genome is rapidly evolving in relation to food (this is not surprising given the roaming ways of humanity). Why some people develop allergies is probably related to complex genetic evolution.

Furthermore, Darwin’s term ‘survival of the fittest’ is generally miquoted by numerous bigots. It actually means, have you reproduced? Has your genetic map been passed on? If so, you are the fittest. It’s nothing to do with your actual health.

It’s been fascinating to see how abusive people become about food. I’m sure most people with food allergies would rather not have them.

TheObserver 1:45 pm 07 Jul 10

OK. In relation to food allergens it is a requirement of food law in the ACT (and all over Australia) for information to be available to the customer on request. Check out http://www.foodstandards.gov.au – which will give info on what the obligations are in relation to allergens etc.

Also, this is a good enough run down on the ins and outs of allergens and the law and how it relates to eateries – and some commonsense tips:

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/consumers/problems-with-food/allergy-and-intolerance/

Yes, I know this is about NSW but the Food Standards Code in relation to allergen declarations is Australia wide and the regulatory points on allergens are good for the ACT.

In terms of picky eaters – well, there is no obligation for a restaurant to cater for what is in effect a lifestyle/philosophical choice. Nor do I believe there is an automatic entitlement or expectation that a restaurant should cater for every exigency. A restaurant is a business and menus and so forth are reflective of the business needs to which it caters. If there was good money in catering for fussy eaters I guess we’d see Yellow Pages ads for such places. Best advice would be to ring around.

Fiona 12:40 pm 07 Jul 10

One issue I’ve had is where you THINK a restaurant has listed all the ingredients say in a salad (because what they’ve written is mighty long) and it comes out covered in cheese or sauce or extras like croutons/bread that play havoc with people with allergies and intolerances.

sirocco 9:37 am 05 Jul 10

Wow. I can’t believe I actually agree with the trolls.

It’s not that I don’t understand the allergy issue or the embarrassment of having to ask for modifications to a meal (why doesn’t anyone understand ‘over hard’ when everyone knows what ‘over easy’ means when it comes to fried eggs?!? It’s not difficult; I just don’t want runny yolks!) but to round up a bunch of people all with different allergies and then hope to find somewhere to accommodate them all at once just sounds retarded! Surely this would be a perfect opportunity to show off your culinary skills in a bake-off instead?

It’s not about a chef’s ego; it’s about managing a business efficiently. They spend all of their non-service time prepping ingredients and portioning out …. well… portions so that come service time they can make meals identically and as fast as they can so that even though it would take a patron an hour and a half to make it at home that same patron doesn’t complain when it takes the restaurant more than 20mins to bring it to them.

Don’t be afraid of the telephone Local-Loner; calling them to discuss your needs well in advance is the only way you won’t piss off the restaurant’s kitchen

housebound 1:09 pm 04 Jul 10

Mr Evil said :

So what happens if little Magenta or Tristan walks out of the school grounds and touches a railing that just happens to have a slight trace of peanut butter on it – all because some selfish, uncaring, free-ranging peanut butter sandwich eating monster happened to wipe their face with their bare hand????

Actually, in extreme cases, their parents carry epi-pens everywhere. In extreme cases, the kids are banned from touching anything like handrails. If they try eating at a public place like a food court, the parents get out the baby wipes and wipe down the tables and chairs before letting the child sit down and eat. They have to take their own food (for the child) anyway because of the danger of cross-contaminatin. They try to do all this quietly, so the likes of you won’t start screaming abuse.

At school you can’t rely on baby wipes and the teachers all knowing how to use an epi-pen or having on one hand all the time. They should, but they don’t. Then if they use it, they might accidentally stab themselves and waste the shot altogether.

Pandy 1:30 am 04 Jul 10

Unless you have a TV show

johnny_the_knife 6:17 pm 03 Jul 10

forgoodnessake said :

Basically yes. Allergies that are life thereatening are completely different to people who are just fussy and annoying eaters. You go to a restaurant to try new things and the chef goes to a lot of trouble to plan a dish. Eat what is there, or if you don’t like something in the dish, pick something else.

I don’t always go to a restaurant to try new things – often I go to a restaurant to conduct business, or to socialise. As a matter a course, I generally don’t eat grains, and minimise my instake of starch and added sugar (by choice). When eating out, I’ll usually ask that the mashed potato/rice/other food I don’t want to eat be replaced with some extra vegies or salad. Never once has this been an issue at any establishment I have visited both in the ACT and interstate.

The chef may have gone to a lot of trouble to plan a dish, but that doesn’t mean it will suit everyone, and doesn’t mean it’s set in stone.

The restaurant is there to serve it’s customers, not it’s chefs ego.

bigfeet 1:56 pm 03 Jul 10

Pandy said :

In my day going to primary school, children did not have allergies. Or else they had died off. shrug

I’ve often wondered about this myself. When I went to school you could buy a honey sandwich or a chocolate with nuts from the tuckshop and on occasion myself and other kids brought nutella type spreads to school for lunch.

I don’t recall seeing piles of dead and dieing students cluttering up the playground.

What has happened to make this so common?

Is it that kids today are just soft and pathetic?

    johnboy 2:02 pm 03 Jul 10

    I think you’ll find high allergy kids are different from the past in still being alive.

Mr Evil 10:28 am 03 Jul 10

urchin said :

i think that some issues people obviously don’t understand regarding (esp nut) allergies at school are:

some kids can have a severe reaction even if they don’t ingest the substance. so if a kid, as a kid does, gets peanut butter all over his face, wipes his face with his hand and touches the railing of the ladder going up the slide, touching that remainder of peanut butter can be enough to set off a reaction in a child with a severe nut allergy.

That has to be the most retarded thing that I have read on this site!

So what happens if little Magenta or Tristan walks out of the school grounds and touches a railing that just happens to have a slight trace of peanut butter on it – all because some selfish, uncaring, free-ranging peanut butter sandwich eating monster happened to wipe their face with their bare hand????

Quick, lets ban Peanut Butter from being eaten anywhere!

Pandy 9:59 am 03 Jul 10

Hey Golden Shower, thou shalst not take JB name in vain. If this were Thailand, you would be jailed.

Back off topic:

In my day going to primary school, children did not have allergies. Or else they had died off. shrug

His Golden Peeness 1:10 am 03 Jul 10

Hope this new govt doesnt introduce any anti-whinging legislation…then most of you might have to keep talking to yourselves without posting it here.
Hey, why dont you gutless wonders go after johnboy for going with this thread, if its so bloody damn frivolous?!

vg 8:55 pm 02 Jul 10

Clown Killer said :

The ‘policy’ will last as long as the 1st law suit, where one of the questions will be ‘why is your school so different that you don’t ban these food types’?

It’s a policy that’s been around a while (well over a decade) and one developed with the input of all manner of folk so much smarter than you or I. My instinct says it would be a robust defence against litigation simply because it is a well articulated policy as opposed to the norm which isn’t a policy at all simply an unenforceable ban.

The reality is that bans simply don’t work, and if things went pear shaped for a kid with food allergies in a school with bans – you’d have buckley’s pinning liability on anyone but the Education Department or the school board (in the case of private schools) and what would their defence be “We had a ban on peanut butter …” which is tantamount to saying “We did fu@k all” and we’re exposed as hell …

Get the school to run with that line and see how they go when the inevitable happens and every other school bar them has a policy to the contrary.

Because something is ‘well articulated’ means eff all

urchin 8:51 pm 02 Jul 10

i think that some issues people obviously don’t understand regarding (esp nut) allergies at school are:

some kids can have a severe reaction even if they don’t ingest the substance. so if a kid, as a kid does, gets peanut butter all over his face, wipes his face with his hand and touches the railing of the ladder going up the slide, touching that remainder of peanut butter can be enough to set off a reaction in a child with a severe nut allergy.

so let’s separate the restaurant issue from the school issue. unless you advocate keeping kids with food allergies locked up at home so little jimmy can have pb&j for lunch (perhaps the parents should expand their culinary repertoire).

as far as restaurants go… where was the OP demanding that all restaurants meet his/her dietary needs? as i recall the OP was asking for places that are good at handling those requests. if they are good at handling them, presumably they aren’t mortally offended when someone says “hey i’m allergic to xyz, could you avoid sprinking my dish with those things please?”

nor are all food allergies mortal. sometimes it means an unpleasant night on the toilet or a rash.

if you don’t have any recommendations, why are you pissing on people’s heads? are you a footballer? b/c last time i checked only footballers were allowed to do that…

someone asked for a restaurant recommendation that could handle their specific needs. what, specifically, do you find so offensive about that?

now i’m back to the mines.

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