Eating Out

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We visited Frankie & Benny’s on Sunday, our local restaurant in Washington, Tyne and Wear, for our first meal out as a family of 4! We had booked the table for 3:30, as the girls usually eat dinner fairly early, around 4:15 and we wanted to ensure that their routine was maintained. We booked a table over the phone in advance and arrived to find the restaurant fairly busy, but not too full, which was nice.

We were greeted and asked if we required a high chair, to which we replied yes, for Emelie (8 months). I was delighted to find the style of high chair fit into the booths, fastening to the table so that Emelie could really feel part of our dining experience there. This was also great, as we didn’t feel as if we were getting in people’s way or taking up lots of room, which we often feel like when being out and about with 2 under 3! Both girls were given an activity pack, regardless of Emelie’s young age, and also a balloon…

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We chose to order from the Specials Menu, which was reasonably priced at £10.95 for 2 courses, less than 1 main course from the Main Menu! Orlaith (age 2) had decided from looking longingly at the meal of another young diner opposite, that she wanted burger, priced at £3.95! (which also included a drink and dessert! Happy days!
The availability of Baby Deli baby food was also an added bonus, and both Children’s meals came with our starters, as requested.

Whilst waiting, the girls were occupied by their goodies and mummy and daddy could chat happily without the need to worry about occupying the children; a rarity!

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The baby food, Scrummy Chicken, arrived with its original packaging to allow us to see the ingredients and weight…Orlaith’s burger would’ve filled me, but she immediately tucked into it along with the fries and beans…we began our starters of potato skins and dough sticks.
For main course, we took a tip from Orlaith and ordered the Ranch Burger which was amazingly good! The staff were quick to attend to our table, removing dishes the girls had finished with and replacing Orlaith’s almost demolished burger with an ice cream and chocolate buttons, which again held her attention until we had finished…we all ate at different times and this was a much more functional way of dining we found. Staff were clearly very well-trained and families are clearly the focus of Frankie & Benny’s.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the service, food and facilities in the restaurant…in complete honesty, I was most satisfied by all of us sitting together in a booth! Seriously…it made my day! What could’ve potentially been a disastrous first meal out together was a memorable trip, which we will now hold fond memories of.

Thank you 🙂

*Disclosure* I did not receive any financial compensation for this review, however we did receive a gift voucher to the value of £50, from which we received no change or further vouchers. All views are my own and are for the benefit of families reading my blog only. Thank you.

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Last night, I had the opportunity to sample tapas at La Tasca in Durham City, to look at how the restaurant catered for diners with intolerances and allergies. The focus of my writing on the blog so far has been milk allergy/intolerance, but following their support of allergy week, I was interested in what La Tasca were doing to actively support those with gluten intolerance…

On arrival, we were greeted by Richard who showed us to our table in the window. We were able to immediately relax and felt totally at ease, watching passers by travel up and down the narrow street leading up to the Cathedral. From the moment I opened the menu, I could see that La Tasca were actively supporting customers with gluten allergy/intolerance; each item on the main menu was marked using up to 3 symbols, with a key clearly displayed at the bottom. I was also delighted to see, a gluten-free ‘La Tasca Special Tapas To Share’ at the bottom right of the menu…I was equally impressed to see that this was cheaper than the other option, by £5; a rare occurrence considering the inflated supermarket prices that many of you have commented on before! The idea of ‘paying a premium for having an allergy was not evident here at all, I am pleased to say!

We were able to make our gluten-free selections quickly and easily, without quizzing staff or dissecting the ingredients in the dishes…I was impressed by this. Not only is this helpful for allergy sufferers, but also for those taking the gluten-free option as a lifestyle choice. In addition to this, healthier options were also clearly marked for this purpose.

Having already looked at the allergy data which is available on the website, before our visit, we were also still able to order a sharer for a starter, as I knew which of the dishes contained gluten!

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The gluten-free dishes, in complete honesty, were my favourite of the evening! The ‘Spanish-Style Lemon Chicken and Vegetables’ was the ultimate highlight. The dish was full of flavour, was fresh and light in equal measures and didn’t make me feel as if I were ‘missing out‘ by going gluten-free! The second gluten-free dish, was a new addition to the menu, ‘Chorizo & Morcilla’, which again was full-flavoured and typically Spanish in its style.

Spanish-Style Lemon Chicken and Vegetables

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Chorizo & Morcilla
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After a very pleasant selection of tapas, we were then offered the dessert menu, where the evidence of La Tasca’s support for the free-from diner continued. Half of the options available were gluten free! There was also a wider selection that I expected, ranging from ice-cream, to chocolate-based puddings, to sorbet! Sadly however, I simply couldn’t manage to eat one, after indulging from the Starter and Tapas to Share menus.

After what was a very enjoyable evening, the journey home allowed me to reflect on not only La Tasca’s successes, but where improvements could possibly be made. The menu for gluten-free diners was reasonably priced, including the option of Tapas to Share, priced lower than the standard option, however this was not the case in the Party Menu, where there were no gluten-free starter options in the Barcelona Menu, priced at the lowest of the three options, at £14.95. I would hope that these starters could be substituted, as otherwise, gluten-free options are only available as part of the Valencia Menu, at the higher price of £19.95. The tapas selection however, was again exceptional, with half of the available options being gluten-free!

I had opted to review La Tasca on the back of their support for Allergy Week, when they had run promotions and aimed to raise awareness through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. This support was more than just an advertising plea by La Tasca, it was evidently an attempt to make the gluten-free diner aware of the support being offered by a restaurant who was not only willing to accommodate them, but actively seeking opportunities to provide the best dining experience for all, in the least intrusive way. This, I would imagine, is the atmosphere we all seek when dining out!

A fantastic evening, with fantastic food delivered with exceptional service. Thank you to La Tasca, Durham for a wonderful evening!

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