Since I last blogged, we have moved house. The new house needs a lot of work and we don’t really have what I’d call a proper kitchen. So we are eating out a lot more than normal. It’s not cheap but then neither is gas, electric or fresh ingredients, so in my head we are probably not that much worse off! My husband might disagree.
We are fans of Zizzi and since the move in April have visited several. We had a particularly good experience at St Katharine’s Dock in London and when they ‘created’ gluten free bread sticks for Zac. He gets sick of limp carrots and cucumber as his kids starter so I thought I’d ask if they could create something that looked like the ‘normal’ kids dough sticks.
Zac at Zizzi !
As Zizzi’s seems to be one of the few chain restaurants that uses gluten free pasta, I decided it was time to pay them a visit. I had read in the press that they were also trialling a gluten free pizza for ‘Coeliac week’, so was doubly interested as Zac does love ‘pizza’ and it is a very long time since he was able to select anything from a restaurant or pub menu.
We tried the Winchester restaurant, as we were visiting the area for a wedding that weekend. I was prepared for the fact that the pizza might not be available, as that was just on trial in a few restaurants but was still excited at the prospect of Zac being able to eat something other than a packed lunch. We still took one anyway, as our intolerant child is also an impatient child and wants to eat the minute he sits down. He is also so used to taking his own food that he never expects to be presented with anything other than something from his lunch box.
Once his initial feeding frenzy passed he settled down happily and enjoyed colouring in his menu and crown – all kindly provided by our excellent waiter. I explained that I needed more than just a children’s menu and he showed me the ‘allergy’ list. It was extremely comprehensive and easy to follow. Every single dish on the menu was listed, with a breakdown of all the ingredients and the key allergens were all coded with symbols. The calorie content was also labelled and I am not sure what was more alarming – the fact that some dishes were almost a whole day’s worth of an adults recommended daily allowance or the fact that almost nothing was the holy grail of dairy free as well as gluten free.
We decided Zac might like to try the gluten free Doves Farm fusilli. I wanted him to have the tomato sauce but even that was marked with a ‘dairy’ symbol. I asked if it was an integral part of the sauce or just something added at the end that could be left out altogether. Thankfully, it was the latter. Our lovely waiter went to the trouble to double check. They just left off the cheese and Zac was a happy chap. He was also able to have a dessert. A strawberry sorbet, which was delicious.
So although, the choice was limited, at least there was a choice and I remain hopeful that it can only get better.
Eating in restaurants is a challenge for anyone with food intolerances, as so few places acknowledge them. Whenever anyone suggests ‘taking the kids out for lunch’, I always feel sorry for Zac. He doesn’t seem to mind anymore, but I look at him with his little Buzz Lightyear lunchbox full of ‘free from’ foods and I wonder if he will ever be able to enjoy a ‘proper’ meal in a restaurant.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we recently discovered that Wagamama’s and TGI Fridays are both very accommodating to those with allergies.
Neither of these chains are doing anything ground breaking like using gluten free pasta or anything, just clearly labelling their menus and making suitable food to order, which is highly commendable.
I have since discovered some even better news. Two restaurant chains have taken the step of buying in some corn pasta and incorporating this and some other safe ingredients into their ‘allergy offering’.
Zizzi’s seem to be really leading the way and their menu is the most exciting I have seen in a very long time. It has a large variety of dishes which could be suitable for Zac and all the ingredients are clearly labelled, so making a choice should be easy for anyone with allergies and intolerances.
Carluccio’s have also ventured into this area and are catering for those with special dietary requirements. Their menu is informative and looks very interesting.
Looks like we might be going out for Sunday lunch tomorrow!!!!