It’s been a while – summer holidays and all – but now we are settled back into the school routine and I finally have a bit of time and energy for blogging again! So I am really excited to share with you all a great restaurant for eating out with allergies that we have visited a couple of times over the summer – Nando’s. For those who haven’t visited before, Nando’s is a Portugese themed restaurant serving mainly chicken dishes. They menu is quite simple, you can mix and match mains and sides, which means they can prepare all the food really quickly, but it’s ‘proper’ food, not junky fast food. Handy if you’re in town running errands or doing shopping and need a quick bite to eat.
In the UK, restaurants are required by EU law to provide allergen information to customers on request. This can be a blanket disclaimer on the wall saying something along the lines of ‘Food prepared on the premises may contain traces of gluten, dairy, soya, egg, nuts etc…’ – basically making no attempt at all to cater for those with allergies and intolerances – or maybe a table with the entire menu listed with tick boxes for each allergen written in tiny writing which gives you a headache before you’ve even ordered your drinks. Well, at Nando’s you get this baby:
It looks daunting at first; it’s a thick ringbinder with every dish listed on a separate page. It is huge and weighs a ton. However it is incredibly detailed, well organised, and easy to read. The dishes are sorted into groups with dividers, e.g. starters, mains and sides, which makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Then on the page for the particular dish it lists all of the ingredients at the top, with detailed allergen information listed underneath. This is amazing for people who are allergic to foods that are not covered by the current EU law, as you can see literally everything. It also shows you which part of the meal contains which allergen, for example in the picture below (from the children’s menu – ‘Nandino’ chicken burger) you can see that the bread roll contains milk, soya, egg and gluten, so you could potentially ask for the chicken burger without the roll if you need to avoid any of those ingredients. On the back of the page it also has all the nutrition information for the dish such as calories, fat, carbohydrate, protein etc.
On the children’s menu they also have this main course of chicken breast fillet strips which is free from ALL of the top allergens, yippee!!! Perfect for little ones who have multiple allergies. The chips are also fine (no sneaky gluten in them) and corn-on-the-cob is just as-is, with no butter added, and you can get a ‘Chilly Billy’ ice lolly for pudding, so you can actually get a complete meal, hurrah! They also have some new dairy-free gelado (posh for ice cream!) on the menu – mango and chocolate flavour, although we haven’t tried them yet – an excuse for another visit methinks!
And all of this information is also available on the Nando’s website so you can check ahead of time. Just click on the little (i) underneath whichever dish you want to look at and the nutrition and dietary information will pop up.
So, what about cross-contamination? All of the allergens are included in at least one meal on the menu so it is potentially a problem. On their website they state: “If you do have an allergy, please let us know when you order so we can make double sure your meal is prepared with the utmost care to minimise cross-contamination.” I think the key word there is minimise. You will know for yourself how sensitive you or your little one is to their allergen(s) so you will have to judge whether the risk is acceptable or not. We have eaten at two different Nando’s restaurants recently and our experience has been completely fine on both occasions, and our little girl is sensitive enough to react from cross-contamination sometimes. They were able to mark the food allergy on the order through the till. On the whole Nando’s seem pretty clued up about food allergies, although it will depend on the individual staff on the day and what level of training they have had.
Have you eaten out at Nando’s recently? How was your experience?