LOCATION: Westfield Stratford City
Eating out in places you’re unfamiliar with is never easy. After trailing around Westfield and looking at every single restaurant and fast food menu, and having conversations with many staff members who had no clue what “gluten free” meant, we decided to eat in Cabana Brasilian Barbecue as the menu advertised that the skewers could be made gluten free on request.
I always think that when the menu advertises gluten free, then the staff should know what it means. However when we asked our waiter to explain what my gluten free options were, he looked at us confusedly and started asking me what kind of food I like before pointing out many items on the menu that clearly weren’t gluten free such as burgers. It was quite obvious that he didn’t understand what we were asking him, I even pointed at the line on the menu that said the skewers could be made gluten free and he still didn’t know. Eventually we gave up. When he left my mum decided to go and speak to the chef who was cooking the skewers.
He explained that all of the skewers except the sausage one were gluten free. He told us the chips were but when we asked how they were cooked he said they were fried with non gluten free options. He told us that I could have the rice as a side dish but without the shallots since they were also fried. We liked that he thought of that after we’d pointed out that I couldn’t eat the chips.
Feeling satisfied that I was going to be safe, I ordered a full skewer of chicken, bacon and pineapple with a side of rice (no shallots!) and my mum ordered two half skewers – spicy chicken and steak (I can’t find a menu online anywhere and can’t remember the proper names of the skewers). The person that took our order was dressed in a black shirt (all the other waiters were dressed in colourful tshirts and jeans) so we don’t know if he was a chef or a manager, but when we asked if my skewer could be cooked separate from any sausages, he replied that it didn’t matter because the sausages were gluten free.
Although my food was delicious, we just didn’t have much confidence in the restaurant understanding my dietary needs. The first waiter didn’t understand what we meant, and then we were told that the sausages weren’t gluten free by one person, and that they were by another. I think in this case the staff need to be trained better on what they can offer to coeliacs. If the menu advertises it then I should be able to go in and order without fear of being ill. I probably wouldn’t go back to Cabana by my own choice, but at least I know I can eat something!