Friday, 20 September 2013

Carluccio's in Cobham

I like a good bit of alliteration in my blog post titles - check my past posts and you'll know it's true. However, there's a really good reason why I've done so for this particular post - read on and you'll see what I mean!

Now, I've heard of people having a great allergy free dining out experience at Carluccio's in the past and, to be quite frank, I was utterly astounded! My experiences have been pretty mixed - the worst being the time I went to one, where, having told the waitress I was dairy and gluten free, she promptly went off and returned with bread sticks for me to nibble on, whilst I waited!!

SO, when we visited Carter's Steam Fair in Cobham a few months ago, and my sister suggested eating at Carluccio's afterwards, I was none too thrilled. However, my sister being quite... hmm... 'persuasive' is the best way of putting it, I think, we did.

All the fun of the fair!

To begin with, I was none too impressed by the waiter who tried to serve us. It wasn't long before he was obviously floundering. He tried to bluff it out but soon had to resort to asking his superior for some help. Now, SHE was brilliant. To my shame, I can't remember her name but I was really impressed with her understanding. She completely 'got it'. It transpired that her friend had a daughter with various allergies, and who had actually written a cook book. 

The superior (eek, wish I could remember her name) dismissed the first waiter, and took over our table herself. She was able to knowledgeably guide me through my choices on the menu and disappeared out to the kitchen to place our order and oversee preparations. Then, she personally delivered our dairy free and gluten free dishes, herself (pronouncing them as dairy free and gluten free, as she did so - just in case anyone was in any doubt). I was amazed!!

It's the variation in what you might experience (in terms of service) that has made me a lot warier about relying on chain restaurants these days. It all depends on the staff in that restaurant, on that day, as far as I can tell. Hence specifying a particular place in my title!

Now, the service in Cobham was spot on, but the menu (as set by Carluccio's) was a bit limiting really. 'Baby' ended up with pasta and sauce (as per usual). Some days she'll eat it, some days she won't!!

'Baby's' dairy free pasta

Meanwhile, mine was a 'dairy free, gluten free' salad. Now, I'll eat salad, but I'm not a real salad fan. There being not much choice, though, it was that or go hungry. 

Polo e Prugne (chicken and prune)  actually turned out to be a very nice salad (as salads go). It was really nicely dressed and well-balanced, so a change from the usual fish and potato that I often end up with!

Pollo e Prugne

So, 'Baby' and I both got to eat something... and didn't suffer any nasty reactions!

Dessert was non-existent, but that was no surprise. Everywhere we go it's a variation of some kind of fruit - usually a sorbet. Now, I don't know about your little one, but mine doesn't go a bundle on that and neither do I. Add into the mix that I get allergic reactions from fresh fruit such as kiwi, pineapple and melon (the basis of many a fruit salad) and you'll understand why I'm so unimpressed!

I did trawl the shop at the front to see if there was any suitable treat, but even the meringue was out of bounds, as it was dusted with some kind of chocolate powder - so near and yet so far - 'Baby' loves meringue! Mind you, the main reason for trawling the shop was to keep 'Baby' away from her cousin, who was devouring chocolate ice cream with unholy relish!!

When, oh when, I have often wondered (and this is aimed not just at Carluccio's), will restaurants provide proper desserts for the dairy and gluten free?? To borrow the catchphrase of many a frustrated coeliac on Twitter, 'Fruit is NOT a dessert'!

Another pic of the fair

If you've also pondered this question, the good news is that Leon restaurants have dessert options that are dairy and gluten free and most definitely are not fruit. Check them out! :)

Other posts about Eating Out:

Lunch at Starbucks
Celiacs Fayre Gluten Free Cafe

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