Eating out can be nerve wracking with a child with allergies. But it doesn’t have to be! We are so lucky that restaurants have become more aware and are willing to accommodate. The last thing you want to do is show up with hungry kids and be told that they can’t accommodate you and be scrambling to find a restaurant. Here are some things I do when I am researching a restaurant.
I always call ahead of time and ask to speak to the manager. Some questions that I ask :
1. Are you willing to accommodate food allergies?
2. How will the food be prepared, what precautions do you take?
3. Is there a risk of cross-contamination?
If they falter at any point in your conversation and aren’t 100 % confident, I will find another restaurant.
Now, everyone’s comfort level is different. Our allergies are very severe and we do not feel comfortable with the risk of cross-contamination. Some chefs will refuse to prepare certain foods and that’s ok. I would be happy to eat at a restaurant that takes the time to consider all of these things.
I always travel with 2 EPI pens, cleaning wipes and our own utensils. I find restaurants never have the right size forks or spoons and it makes life a whole lot easier. Before anyone sits down, I wipe down the chairs, the table top to bottom and we always wash our hands before eating.
Do your research
Our new favourite restaurant is Joey at Yorkdale. Their service was impeccable thanks to our server and the manager. We are on a first name basis now and I only make reservations on the days that she is working, that way Leo gets used to eating there and comfortable with eating out. I’m always on the hunt for restaurants that will accommodate us and to add options as it can be limited. Prior to our visit, Sarah took the time to go over the menu with me and see what foods would be safe for Leo. We narrowed it down to hamburger without the bun, pasta or an avocado roll. We looked at the chicken strips and fries and saw that it wasn’t safe as they use the same fryer for their fish. She brought out the ipad that has every ingredient used in preparing the dishes and where any cross contamination would come from. For instance, the pasta said may contain sesame seeds. It turns out it would be coming from the bread crumbs that they use to put on top of it before they serve it. So, we omit the bread crumbs and his pasta is allergen free. She confirmed with the chef . Winner winner chicken dinner.
That sounds like a lot of work…
Why do all this? It’s probably easier to just eat at home. Well, #1, I would LOVE a break from cooking. #2 Leo feels safe, included and gets used to eating out. I plan on travelling with my kids and want to get him used to the idea of eating in other places. I hope that this gives you the confidence to try new restaurants and that it gives you a break in the kitchen. This was our unique experience and I wasn’t compensated for this review. I always recommend you do your own research and find a server that goes the extra mile, who makes you feel comfortable and who really pays attention.