Allergy Mums / Support for families with allergies

publication date: Mar 5, 2015

Bill’s Restaurant Soho

I met a friend at Bill’s for lunch in Soho the other day. She’s an ex work colleague and we’ve always kept in touch and moved from work friends to friends in the real world. I was delighted when she suggested Bill’s since I’ve had such a good experience in the Putney branch.

She arrived a bit late so I had lots of time to look at the menu and sip my cranberry and soda. I was surprised not to see the menu identifying allergens as I’m sure the menu at the Putney site does. Ho hum...I thought. Never mind. Now…at this point I should have asked to see the allergens menu. Never again will I make the mistake of not asking for the allergen menu.

My friend ordered a Naked Burger, and I ordered a Chicken Caesar with a side of fries (natch). I asked for no egg as I’m allergic. The waitress responded by saying there was no egg in the salad. That’s good, nothing to fiddle with in the kitchen then.  The burger was ordered medium and we happily chatted while waiting for our lunch.

Food arrived, all looking lovely and tempting. We both dove in. The burger was, I’m told, great. A good low carb option. The Chicken Caesar came in quite an irritating bowl; very high sided so difficult to cut the chicken without having my elbows in the air. It tasted delicious and I gobbled it, along with the fries, up happily. So far, so good.

We parted ways after coffee and as wandered back to the tube I noticed my mouth was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I suffer from oral allergy syndrome (so my mouth hurts if I eat anything I’m allergic to). I popped an antihistamine straight away as the itching and tingling was getting a bit much.

So when I got home I logged onto Bill’s website and took a look at the allergy menu. Yep. Egg in the Chicken Caesar apparently. I really do think that when customers ask for items to be removed, and say they are allergic, that the staff should warn the kitchen to avoid cross contamination, and make sure that they are giving accurate information. For my part, looking back, the waitress answered too glibly. I should have realised that it was an ‘off the cuff’ answer rather than a careful one. I was lulled into a false sense of security as the Bill’s in Putney is so careful, and so brilliant with allergy information.  I just assumed that this was a reflection of Bill’s training and policy rather than a reflection on the individual management.  Having now googled Caesar recipes it seems that mayo is used in the dressing; hence my egg reaction.

 So from now on I ask for the allergy menu regardless of what I’m told, or even look on line at the allergy information. Lesson learnt the hard way.  Having said that – Bill’s really need to discuss allergies with their staff and make sure everyone is up to speed and not giving out incorrect information. My reaction was mild, other people are not so lucky!


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