It has always been a tradition for my kickboxing class to go for a cheeky Nando’s after class on a Wednesday. I’m not sure where this originated, but it’s quick and easy, and packs the protein needed after a workout.
In true tradition we met at Nando’s in Gunwharf Quays yesterday evening only to find that our group of thirteen couldn’t be seated together and there would be a wait of 45 minutes to an hour. Why so busy, we thought, then it dawned on us that it’s half term.
We split up and trudged around every food establishment in Gunwharf looking for an available table. Just as we were about to settle for a few plastic tables in Burger King, Giraffe said they could fit us in. They moved tables around and made space for us to sit as a group, which was no mean feat at such short notice.
I’ve never eaten at Giraffe, but I knew that their philosophy was to serve food from around the world, so thought there must be something on the menu that’s Allergy Girl friendly.
Not wanting to cause a fuss, I went onto their website and found their interactive allergy menu, which at a first glance looked good. It allowed me to tick the different allergens and would show the dishes that don’t contain those allergens. In theory……..
In practice it was just wrong. One of the items it said I could have was the Bao Buns, so I looked at these on the main menu. In small letters underneath the description of the dish it said “please be aware the buns are topped with peanuts.” Now we had a problem.
By this point everyone was ordering and I still didn’t have a clue if I could eat anything on the menu, so I asked the waiter the question they all hate to be asked. He brought the allergy menu over, took the rest of the orders and said he’d give me a few minutes to look at it.
The allergy menu was fairly standard looking. It had a grid with the main allergens, and there was a tick in the box if it contained the allergen or “M” for might contain. The only problem was the grid clearly didn’t fit the A4 paper it had been printed on and half of each dish name was missing, meaning I had to guess what it was I was actually looking at. This took forever and I was getting fed up.
I wasn’t convinced by the allergen information on the allergy menu either. For example, it told me there was no milk present in the chicken curry with naan bread, but as naan is usually made with butter or ghee I thought this was incorrect.
I eventually settled on a steak with sweet potato fries and a side salad, as you can’t go wrong with meat and veg. The steak was a little rarer than I’d normally have it, but it was delicious and I’d definitely have it cooked that way again. The salad of spinach, rocket and cucumber was nice and made a welcome change from the watery iceberg lettuce that often accompanies steak in chain restaurants.
I spoke to the waiter about the allergy menu, pointing out that the website didn’t work and that you couldn’t read the paper menu properly. He said they were aware of the problems with the website and the paper menu was only a temporary solution while the website was being sorted.
I personally think it’s not good enough. It’s hard enough when you have an allergy trying to work out what you can and can’t eat. The information you’re given needs to be clear and accurate. Allergies are not be taken lightly and one small error in allergen information could kill someone with a serious allergy.
Although the food was nice, I won’t be going back as Giraffe simply do not take their responsibilities towards customers with allergies seriously, and probably won’t until they find themselves trying to defend a compensation claim or prosecution.