I have realised for some time that it would be more useful for me to write about my experiences eating out with dietary requirements. I am lactose intolerant, making the transition to a plant-based diet and I have Pollen Food Allergy (blog post here). Over the years I have had varying levels of success when dining out so I’m going to start writing these up instead of in-depth food reviews on a restaurant basis.
This month I wanted to write about a food fail that happened when we went out for Sunday lunch. Mr Ting telephoned in advance to The Physician where we were headed for Sunday lunch. He was assured that they had an allergens menu and that Sunday lunch would be fine despite my lactose intolerance. Excellent news. Except that when we got there, it really wasn’t. Turns out that their allergens menu confirms that I can’t eat 98% of their menu and the waiting staff and kitchen team were inadequate in their ability to provide the previously promised Sunday lunch for me.
For me, this was disappointing for several reasons. I wanted a Sunday lunch with roast potatoes, some fresh vegetables and gravy. Being offered some lamb with boiled potatoes and boiled cabbage isn’t the same thing. So I decided to order something else from the menu that according to their allergens menu, I could eat.
Sadly the starter (scallops) turned up burnt, bitter and somehow, lukewarm. They did not taste nice and the texture was unpleasant. I didn’t understand the inclusion of a scattering of peanuts on my plate and wondered why the flavourless mush underneath the scallops was included.
What made the meal worse was that Mr Ting’s starter of soup came out bland and cold. So we asked for the bill and cancelled the rest of our order. It was time to leave and salvage our Sunday lunch elsewhere.
I would not recommend visiting The Physician if you have dietary requirements. The staff did not fill me with confidence when it came to dealing with my lactose intolerance or my Pollen Food Allergy. I tried to minimise my risk by ordering something from the menu that I could eat without needing to trust the kitchen to make adjustments to the cooking method or ingredients used. Regardless, the standard of the food was disappointing. I found this a complete waste of our time and we won’t be returning to give this place another chance.
After leaving The Physician, we went a few doors down to The Highfield. Here was a complete contrast to the experience we had just left at The Physician. Not only were the team confident in their knowledge of the menu and the allergens, they were swift in double checking a few items at my request. I felt comfortable and trusted that the team at The Highfield knew what they were doing and I wasn’t going to be left ill or worse, in hospital at the end of this meal.
Mr Ting ordering roast tomato and basil oil soup and I ordered the scallops with pancetta and black pudding. The soup came out hot and tasted freshly made. My scallops were cooked beautifully and tasted great with the pancetta and black pudding. Thankfully these scallops were not a cold, bitter and rubbery mess!
Both the husband and I ordered a Sunday lunch of lamb for our main. The only things that I couldn’t eat were the stuffing and the Yorkshire puddings. I was offered extra potatoes to compensate, which was a nice touch but unnecessary due to the generous portions.
Our food came out hot, was tasty and the whole experience was miles apart despite the close proximity of these restaurants to each other. If you have dietary requirements then it is always advisable to call and book ahead. We tried this with The Physician and sadly they let us (and themselves) down. However, we walked in on the off chance for a table at The Highfield and couldn’t have been more pleased with the experience that we had there. When it comes to Sunday lunch, I know where I will be looking to return to.
The Highfield, 22 Highfield Rd, Birmingham B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068
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