I love food. LOVE food. But a couple of years ago after years of struggling with stomach issues, it was discovered that I had a dairy allergy. Those who know me will know that if I was given the option of eating only two foods for the rest of my life (without the risk of getting scurvy) I would pick pizza and bubblegum ice cream. To say I was a dairy fan would be an understatement.
Needless to say, the first few months of completely cutting dairy out of my life were extremely challenging. Because this is an allergy, and not lactose intollerance, I couldn’t just load up on Lactaid and be on my merry way. Trust me. I tried. Also at the time, goat cheese alternatives weren’t widely available and I was stuck eating mostly soy based products that tasted like plastic.
In the last 2 plus years things have changed a lot and people are becoming more in tune with what they are eating and as a result restaurants have also followed suit to ensure that people can visit their favourite eatery.
For the most part, my visits to restaurants are riddled with me asking a million questions to ensure I’m not going to leave there a bloated, uncomfortable disgusting mess, or I just avoid most restaurants all together and stick to a select few that I know I can enjoy something, worry-free.
In the past three weeks or so I’ve had TWO situations where I was told I was eating something either a) goat cheese based or b) dairy free all together.
In both situations it turns out they weren’t and as a result spent more time than I’d like feeling awful and keeping close to the facilities. (TMI I KNOW but I’m trying to illustrate a point here.)
In my case (to my knowledge) my encounter with dairy will not land me in the hospital, however, there are a lot of people out there with serious allergies that could result in a trip to the hospital, or even worse.
If as a restaurant your menu states something like “please advise server of any allergies” my hope is that you would stand true to that and advise patrons if their meal option won’t jive with the allergy they’ve told you they have. TRUST ME. Us allergy ridden kids would much rather NOT eat something instead of eating something that is going to wreak havoc on our bodies. On top of that we’re more likely to come back to your restaurant because we can trust we can eat there.
What restaurants may not realize is that sometimes it’s not the obvious foods that have dairy in them. For example, battered french fries usually have dairy in them, some types of buns have dairy in them, most pestos have dairy in them… And when I say dairy I don’t just mean STRAIGHT UP MILK.
Basically any kind of cheese that comes from a cow, modified milk ingredients, butter, buttermilk, milk powder etc… falls into that category.
So my ask is this. If you’re a server at a restaurant or a restaurant who can make modifications to your food for people with allergies, please do take the time to ensure that you look beyond the obvious. There is nothing worse than paying money to eat a meal only to worry the entire time that you’re not being taken seriously and will ultimately feel like garbage.
And as for you sufferers out there – below is a list of a few places in Halifax that are incredibly accommodating for people like us – aside from the obviously places like The Heartwood etc…
Morris East – You can have your pizza and eat it too! They are WONDERFUL here for taking the time to get to know their patrons and they even have a coconut milk creme brule.
A Mano – Again, have that hankering for pizza? A Mano is another great go-to and they have delicious creamy goat cheese that can go on top of that pizza pie. And for dessert? Sorbeto which is also dairy free! AND they even do sorbetto to go so while you’re friends are all stuffing their faces will dairy filled ice cream while walking the Halifax Waterfront, fear not. You can enjoy a treat too.
Salty’s – Having spent many years working at Salty’s in my younger years, this kitchen is staffed with an amazing team who makes a lot from scratch and so they know the in’s and out’s of what they’re working with.
The Sweet Hereafter – They have vegan cheesecake THAT TASTES LIKE CHEESECAKE. The lovely duo at The Sweet Hereafter have made a point to offer vegan flavours for quite some time now. They do their research and they’ve instilled the utmost confidence in me that I can eat pretty much an entire cake to myself and only feel bloated because, well that’s a heck of a lot of cheesecake.
Q – Despite Pulled Pork always leaving me feeling like I need a nap, the team at Q has always gone above and beyond to make sure I’m eating safe foods. Even if it means going bun-less.
The Foggy Goggle – If the Internet’s Joel Kelly can make this his second home, the rest of us can eat here with peace of mind. Again, with a great kitchen, they know what they’re putting in our mouths, and they can make sure they keep the bad stuff out.
Ok – that list makes me look like a glutton, but I warned you. I love food. And when I eat out I want to feel comfortable, safe and enjoy every last bite!
Let me know if you have any other go-to restaurants where you know you can have a great meal or treat!