We visited The Caesar’s Arms, Creigiau, in October 2017, with my family.
Aside from the usual food-related anxiety, there was a lot riding on the visit as the meal was for my dad’s belated 70th birthday celebrations. When asked what he would most like for his birthday, dad’s response was “What I’d most like is for us all to go for a nice meal together, before quietly adding, “but I know it’ll be too difficult because of Osh’s allergies”.
A meal in a restaurant. Easy, right? Err….not so much when you have a child in the family who’s allergic to dairy, wheat, eggs, soya, nut, buckwheat, peas and lentils!
But, if you will set me a challenge dad….
This was to be the first time we had ever booked into a restaurant for a meal and trusted them to cook for Osh, so in true allergy-mum style I charged myself with making all the arrangements. I asked friends and local allergy families for suggestions of where they’d been before and had a positive experience. The Caesars seemed to be a strong candidate and I knew dad liked it there.
I phoned ahead a couple of weeks before we wanted to visit, explaining to the person answering the phone that Osh had multiple, severe allergies that would need to be catered for. The person who answered the phone offered to fetch the chef straight away to discuss our requirements with me on the phone (this alone impressed me, given that I had called slap-bang in the middle of Sunday dinner service). Emma came to the phone. She appeared knowledgeable about allergies, proceeding to take down a list of all of Osh’s allergies and to chat through what types of dishes were on the standard children’s menu. She asked me questions about what Osh could/couldn’t eat and more amazingly, what he did and didn’t like to eat (something that often sadly takes a back seat when you’re trying to cater for an allergic child!).
Emma then suggested variations that she could make, based on his safe foods – for example, making him battered fish/chicken goujons, from scratch, using a gram flour and water batter mix. She volunteered information to reassure me that she understood my concerns. For example, explaining to me that if Osh wanted chips, these were made on site from fresh potatoes and that a separate fryer was used solely for chips. She told me which oil was used. She confirmed that she would be at work on the day we wanted to dine and that she would come to chat with us when we arrived to see what Osh wanted to order. I double-checked if she wanted us to pre-order Osh’s dish and her answer was that it was fine for him to choose on the day. I could have jumped into the phone and kissed her!
On the day, we arrived at the restaurant and I mentioned that we had spoken to the chef, because one of the party had allergies. We were shown to our table, in a far corner of the restaurant, and were told that the table had been chosen to reduce risk to Osh, so that there wouldn’t be so many dishes being moved past him.
Not long after we sat down, Emma came to see us, children’s menu in hand. We recapped the list of allergies and Osh chose what he would like to eat. Chips, chicken goujons, carrots and broccoli. Emma checked if we had Osian’s epi-pens with us, asked where they were and then left us to place the rest of our orders.
I cannot describe the look on Osh’s face when his food reached the table! He was so excited! He spent the whole meal time asking everyone if they would like to try some because it was yummy!
Diners are generally given sharing dishes of vegetables, potatoes, chips but when we asked for separate bowls for Osh to avoid cross-contamination, we received them, no questions asked. This was such a fantastic experience for him and I’m actually welling up writing about it now. A meal in a restaurant is such a regular experience for most children but for Osh, this was such a special treat, and a major milestone for us as a family.
In summary, we were extremely impressed with the service from the Caesars, which was exceptional. We couldn’t have hoped for a better first restaurant meal for Osh and we will definitely go back. In WelshAllergyMummy’s view, is this an allergy-friendly restaurant? Absolutely.