Special diets taken into account
How the restaurant responds to customers with lactose intolerance, celiac disease, different allergies, low carb diet, fat free diet etc.
As a concept this is a good idea, however how would you describe this label in a word or two? Would it be enough to just have “Special-diet-friendly” or would each diet need its own category?
If you voted for this, please comment on the above questions, otherwise figuring out how to implement this feature will be very difficult.
I have celiac disease and I'd love to know if they have some gluten free options
Taina Vuokila commented
Lactose-free diets can be marked w/ a letter/ symbol on menus. Also, many children and even adults have severe milk or nut allergies, etc. Special-diet- friendly should mean that the staff is willing to substitute food items to cater to people w/ food allergies. And that the staff is aware of allergies. Usually when I order food for my children w/ food allergies it means that their plate is nearly empty, because the cheff just omits items thay can't eat. Yet I have to pay the full price. I really want to know which restaurant is willing to substitute foods such as tomate w/ pineapple or cream sauce w/ milk free gravy or w/ s.t totally different such as a few grapes. Every time we're treated like a nuisance when we ask for substitutes and end up paying Ala carte prices at lunch time for french fries and chicken breast with a leaf of lettuce. And the food doesn't even look appetizing. I think special- diet friendly should primarily mean food allegies. If you want low- carb, low-fat, etc, then you can just ask staff when you order your meal or restaurants can advertize on their menus/ websites that they have low-carb/ low-fat/ vegetarian dishes.
I like it when lactose free portions are marked or at least the staff knows which foods have lactose.
Timo Rantalainen commented
To me, the most important criterion is the willingness of the kitchen staff to come up with alternatives. My wife is allergic to some ingredients, and nothing ruins the evening like having to feel apologetic for being a burden to the restaurant. She's not trying to be mean or picky, she just can't eat some things.
There is a big difference between different restaurants on how well they're willing to cope with changes. The best - Luomo comes to mind - have produced exquisite dishes on the fly for her, completely off the menu.
It doesn't matter what you can't eat, whether it's one thing or several - the question is whether the kitchen staff is up to the challenge of making you feel welcome in spite or your dietary limitations.
I would say the most common ones should be considered: lactose free and glutein free. These then in the same manner as there was the example of vegetarian dishes. "This restaurant serves at least three lactose free dishes".
For me knowing if the restaurant serves lactose free dishes is the main criteria of choosing a restaurant since otherwise I cannot eat anything. And I don't like to pay full price neither if half of the ingredients are left out, that's why its important that the dish is planned to be with lactose free products.
For me lactose free "friendly" would mean that the restaurant has at least 80% of their dishes lactose free. Basically, they'd use lactose free milk products instead of normal ones.
I have found only one restaurant in Helsinki, which is doing this (ravintola Katsomo). On the other hand, other cities than Helsinki, for example Hämeenlinna and Tampere, have a good selection of restaurants like these.
Tarmo Aidantausta commented
I'd suspect that this could be easily and somewhat reliably be solved by adding some sort of tagging system. Even though there's always going to be some junk tags, they're going to be easy to spot when you have weights on tags. So when the user is typing a tag, you would autocomplete on the tag.
I would consider a restaurant "special-diet-friendly" if:
1. It pays attention to special diets
2. Informs about this in the online menu
3. The online information is reliable
How about a way of voting for e.g. gluten free menus content. Some restaurants claim they have a good G free menu (which in some cases is just one salad + 2 different main courses and no dessert (ice cream not counted). However, at some restaurants almost the whole menu is G free. At least I'm rather happy with a bit more of a choice.
If there could be symbols for diets, icons or letters, there are some commonly used. If someone likes to have gluten-free vegetarian food, he/she just looks for restaurants with both of these symbols. Of course the restaurant is responsible for giving correct information.
It would be nice to know in advanced if there is anything for me to eat in the restaurant. Usually if they consider anything they consider at least the G and L and VL diets. I think there should be one catgory for special diets that have to do with not being able to eat glutein or milk (since these are the most common) and another kategory for if you are on a low-carb diet or similar, since that is not harmfull to you.
Every restaurant doesn't have websites. What then, if the cook/chef doesn't know anythin' about it?
I'll support this, even this is not available for every restaurant.
Admineat admin (Admin, Eat.fi) commented
It's important to be ridiculously specific about the description, so that each up/down vote will be about the same thing, so that the category has clear meaning. Is it more important that the restaurant has already marked special diet info on the menus? This would probably leave Fine Dining places out of the picture entirely, because they care a lot about their menu design and usually don't add extra markings. Or that they're willing/able to change recipes if need be? Cheaper places that have all food from a central kitchen can't change recipes, but often they have meals on the menu for special diet requirements already. Can you brainstorm a single short sentence that would cover all of that sufficiently so that when you chose a restaurant in that category you could be confident that you could eat there?
There are four potential elements to special-diet friendly:
- Attitude-- WILLINGNESS to be flexible with recipes
- Flexibility -- the kitchen CAN be flexible, because all food is made from scratch
- Ability-- the kitchen keeps certain ingredients separate to prevent contamination for allergics
- Menu design -- the menu shows special diet info
Second, what are the major special diet categories?
Celiac disease -- gluten free
Allergies -- varied
Nikita Zhuk commented
For simplicity (and to keep the number of categories down), it would be probably enough to just use one category "Special diet friendly". The description of the category could be something along these lines:
- Restaurant states which menu items can be prepared by taking special diets into consideration
- Special diets have been taken into consideration in restaurant's menu
For more detailed information, users could always visit restaurants' home pages and look at their online menus, which would then include information about menu items itself, i.e. which items can be prepared in according to which special diet.