I'll set the scene. It's a Friday evening and you're going for a meal with your friends. You're looking forward to a few drinks, delicious food and not having to do the dreaded washing up afterwards. Now imagine your most hated foodstuff. Seafood? Sprouts? Semolina? Upon arriving at the restaurant you discover all but two of the dishes consist of your gastronomic nemesis. However, your friends are pleased with what's on offer, so you politely opt for one of the palatable plates. How would you feel? Disappointed? Excluded? This is often the allergy sufferer's dining out experience. You're the odd one out. As a food lover and someone with a gluten intolerance and nut allergy, I know first hand how frustrating it can be to undertake the should-be simple task of eating out. After several particularly exasperating encounters I decided to delve a little deeper into the situation in Cardiff, and share my experiences on the good and bad of provision for allergy sufferers, in addition to restaurant policies.
I've barely sampled the icing on the multi-layered (nut and gluten free?!) chocolate cake that is eating out in Cardiff. Here's to lots more time spent testing the city's culinary wares on behalf of allergy sufferers - a comprehensive list is needed. Of the places I did try, the overall situation is good. In order for the 'nasty surprises' to be eliminated, restaurants need to adopt policies such as La Tasca's whereby all dish ingredients are listed on the menu. Staff need to be trained, enabling them to advise customers on safe choices, and more options should be available. A big thank you to all those eateries already making a big effort to improve dining experiences for people with food intolerances. Entrepreneurs take note - there is a gap in the Cardiff market for a cafe or restaurant devoted to being food allergy friendly. If you establish this idea, please adopt me as your taster, and mention me on Dragon's Den!