Eating out is definitely the hardest part of being a coeliac.
Whenever we go out for a meal or decide to have lunch out somewhere new I dread it. I can sometimes feel the panic rise up in me before we leave the house, especially if we are going out with others.
I don’t worry about whether or not I will find something on the menu (there’s always the classic steak and chips – as long as I emphasise no battered onion rings or mushrooms), but I do worry about making the table seem like a group of complainers. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve had to refuse a meal because the chef didn’t listen to the waiter and put a pile of battered something on my plate. There was one classic moment when the waiter took the meal back, only for it to appear 30 seconds later with the onion rings removed but the meal covered in bits of batter and crumbs. When I said that they had simply removed the onion rings they admitted to it but couldn’t work out what the problems were (needless to say we didn’t continue with the meal).
Anyway, with a new Beefeater restaurant opening in Redditch I thought it would be a good chance to test them out, along with their reactions to my interest in their ingredients, as I hadn’t visited a Beefeaters’ for years.
This is my personal review and is based on a single visit rather than a number of visits.
It’s a chain restaurant, so you expect a certain standard and the Redditch Beefeater didn’t disappoint. However, the table we sat at was slightly sticky in places.
As soon as we sat down I asked to see the allergies menu. I was told they had a folder with the details in (nothing surprising there) and I was then asked what I was interested in. Well, I had only just arrived, I hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu so I felt a bit pressurised. I had expected to have the folder left with me (I can read after all), which is what has happened in other restaurants. But no I had to give my answers there and then, talk about pressure.
Luckily I had looked at the menu online and so had an idea, I blurted something out about sauces, he went through the folder, gave me the answers and disappeared. Very polite, but not exactly helpful.
The people who actually served us were very helpful and I can’t fault them apart from the service being slow, which is very annoying as the place was quiet at the time we went.
Quality of Food
I ended up ordering chicken & pork ribs followed by a strawberry sundae (without the wafer). I had specified that no battered onion rings should be included due to my gluten issue and the plate was clean of anything that could possibly cause a problem.
My only issue with the meal was that the chicken was dry, but the sundae was fantastic.
Portion wise the kids’ meals were perfect. Many places seem to give the kids way too much food and so a fair amount is wasted (I personally hate seeing food wasted), but their serving was just right for them.
It’s a pity I can’t say the same for the adults’ meals. Is it me or are portion sizes getting smaller in restaurants? The Beefeater isn’t the first place I have noticed this so I haven’t marked them down for this.
Overall though the food was good and what you would expect from an established chain.
For what you get and when compared to the competition the price is pretty standard. Competition in the market is certainly helping the consumer, but I do question whether the reduced prices in the industry can be maintained for much longer.
On the outside, the website looks pretty good and works fine. But the are a number of areas which can be improved on.
As mentioned earlier I had already looked at the menu on their website, however, that didn’t really make a difference as the menu in the restaurant was different.
Making sure the two match is actually quite a simple task (I know as I have done something similar). The menu details are held in a file somewhere and all that needs to be done is for the website to use those details.
The other thing is why can’t the allergy information be on the site as well. I expect other food allergy and intolerance sufferers check out the menus online before visiting. It would make life easier (and probably increase visitor numbers) if all the information was there online.
A visitor could click on the menu item and it would take them to a page with all the allergy information in it. This information is probably already held in a database and again it would be a relatively simple task to include it on a website.