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Restaurant Etiquette

How to handle a reaction to food allergies at a restaurant?


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Entertaining & Etiquette Restaurant Etiquette

How to handle a reaction to food allergies at a restaurant?

newtoLA06 | | Feb 2, 2009 12:32 PM

Hello everyone. My date and I went to dinner this past Friday night at a really hot, new restaurant in Los Angeles. I had been looking forward to the meal for quite sometime, so I had high hopes for the meal.

Everything went well up to the dessert course. I am allergic to all nuts except for peanuts, so I tend to be particularly wary of desserts. That night I ordered a dessert that was listed as a dark chocolate and caramel cake with vanilla. There was no mention of any nuts being in the dessert whatsoever, although other menu items did mention the presence of such nuts as pistachios, hazelnuts, etc. Also, I fully admit that I did not ask beforehand whether or not the cake had nuts since I assumed that the cake contained no nuts since there was no mention of it.

After I received the cake, I enjoyed it until I started to feel a strange sensation on my tongue and in my throat. I immediately recognized that I was having an allergic reaction to something that I had eaten. When the server returned to our table, I asked her whether the dish contained any nuts. She replied, no, but that she would go to the kitchen and check. When she returned, she said that was surprised to learn that the cake contained hazelnuts in the garnish. I told the server know that I was having an allergic reaction and that the menu did not mention the presence of nuts in the dish. She apologized. After that, I asked for the check and left a 15% tip. Thankfully, I didn't need to go to the hospital afterwards, but I ended up cutting the evening short.

With all of that mind, what should I do now? My date suggested that I should call the restaurant and let them know what happened. I was thinking of sending an email to the management to voice my displeasure and to let them know that servers should mention that that particular item contains nuts. But on the other hand, I have to admit that I left the restaurant unhappy and have no desire to return. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

P.S.--The meal that we had was part of Restaurant Week, so the cost of the dessert was already included as part of the pre fixe meal. That evening, I thought to have the dessert comped, but I realized that the offending dessert was not paid for a la carte.

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