Monday, 10 May 2010

Malta Inn

As a Coeliac, there are few things more annoying when eating out than asking for advice on gluten free foods only to be told, "Just see what you want, then we can look it up for you." No. Give me the allergy folder, then I can decide on my meal without the (highly likely) chance of being told I can't have it.

This was how my visit to the Malta Inn, a Beefeater restaurant in Sandling, near Maidstone, started. I was grasped by the all too common urge to ask for steak and ale pie, or pasta, and ask them just to make THAT gluten free, then... My facetiousness was curbed only by the fact that I was out with my Father-in-law and his business associates, it wasn't the occasion. I was all geared up for a disappointing meal, until our server approached the table. Keighley (who deserves a mention for brilliant service, friendly, helpful, patient) has, in her own words, "problems with wheat" and knew I had Coeliac Disease from the request for gluten free food, was well qualified to advise me on what the best menu options were. So, not only did I have a delicious meal safe in the knowledge that it wouldn't make me ill, but I was even given the option of dessert. (Nothing on the dessert menu was suitable, so I was offered ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce, again know to Keighley through experience to be ok.

All in all a successful meal out. I do feel it necessary to tell you about a less successful meal, however.

The Husband and I had heard great things about The Jenny Wren, a 2 for 1 restaurant/pub in Sittingbourne. We visited it a few weeks ago. It started well, my initial glance at the menu reassured me that there would be several possible options that "surely are gluten free". Famous last words. The allergy list showed a different story. The "contains gluten" column was almost solidly "N"s. I ended up having gammon steak and jacket potato, not my first choice, or second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth... You get the idea. It tasted fine, except the obviously microwaved potato, but I wasn't in the mood to enjoy anything by the time it arrived.

Restaurants. Please, please, consider the needs of people with Coeliac Disease. It's not a choice, it's a medical condition. The message you send out when you don't have options for us is that you don't want our custom. That's fine, but I, for one, will tell everyone I know about how disappointing the service was, I won't bring friends or family to eat there. It's not just 1 in 100 people you are losing (although, surely that's enough), it's all their friends too.

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