Below I've posted my complaint to a London venue regarding an incident that left me speechless and fuming yesterday. In hindsight I should have left immediately (while making a scene!) but I was too speechless to even think. I've decided not to name the restaurant here.
> I regret you inform you that I had a highly frustrating and distressing visit to your restaurant yesterday. Upon being seated, I asked if there was an allergy menu and was told no. I was asked how severe my allergy to peanuts was, and I replied severe, and was promptly told 'since everything seems to say may contain nuts' in shops and that as X was a bar venue rather than a restaurant it was unlikely there would be anything I could eat on the whole menu. I found this rather baffling since there was nothing on the entire menu with peanuts in it and asked the waitress to speak with the chef and ask his advice on whether anything might be suitable. She seemed annoyed by this and told me she would bring information but that then it would be my responsibility to decide, meanwhile telling me it was her legal responsibility and she'd had training.
A few minutes later she returned telling me the chef had said the hummus might not be suitable, and as she had some written allergen information in her hand I looked back at the menu to check other options. She seemed extremely irritated that I still planned on ordering something and by my follow-up enquiry, rudely told me 'that she'd told me all she could, talked to the head chef and manager, had spent a half an hour talking to me and now everyone surrounding was waiting for their drinks because of all this' (ridiculous in every way). I was left speechless at the suggestion that somehow my couple of very brief questions around allergy information, which as you know are now a legal requirement, was somehow irritating her and preventing her from doing her job.
After asking to look at the written information myself, I chose the nachos, without jalapeños and asked the waitress to give the kitchen a written chef card which I use in every restaurant as a visual reminder to the kitchen. This was rudely handed back to me as not necessary as I was sarcastically told 'everyone there now knew about my allergy'; yet ironically my nachos arrived with jalapeños so clearly the message was not that clearly delivered to the kitchen after all. I have never experienced such an awful attitude to severe allergies and it has severely dented my confidence in your restaurant.
I hope that you will follow up and provide extra training to your staff on simply spending a couple of moments answering a few basic questions for customers who take their life in their hands when they eat out. If you have decided that people with severe allergies should be encouraged to go elsewhere to eat, you should make that clear with a message on your menu or window, but do you want to alienate a group of customers for the sake of not providing guidance on what's in your food? <