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As any allergy parent will tell you, eating out isn’t a simple case of eating out.

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As any allergy parent will tell you, eating out isn’t a simple case of eating out. It’s a calculated and measured choice, coupled with doing research, ensuring you have a full set of meds (in our case inhalers, antihistamines and epi-pens) and also bringing back up food in case you can’t find anything suitable, or you don’t trust what is on offer. Bad experiences leave you scarred and wary of future outings.

Callum certainly doesn’t make things easy for us, we have to ensure his food is dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, nut-free, tomato-free, and pepper-free, and that’s just the savoury side!

It’s quite some collection, and usually very hard to completely avoid!

Last night, when I got home from work I was greeted with the news that Jon had booked a table at our local Pizza Express.

What a lovely surprise!!

We had our first date in the Oxford restaurant, many moons ago, so it’s got a special place in our hearts!

I knew that they now offer a gluten-free pizza base, although I wasn’t sure of the ingredients, but figured we would find something suitable for little dude. We’d previously been there for his 2nd birthday, and they had been pretty good.

I decided to take a small pot of Callum’s ‘nomato sauce’ and also some of his safe grated cheese so that we could at least get his food to look a bit like ours.

So, off we all go, looking forward to some time as a family, and for me, extremely thankful that I didn’t need to cook!

Well, before I continue, I have to say, kudos to Pizza Express, and THANK YOU!!!!

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I am so very impressed with your knowledge of allergies, the issues surrounding cross-contamination, and the understanding of the seriousness that allergies can bring. You have trained your staff to perfection!

We visited the Bicester branch, and our waitress was Letitia. She was attentive, accommodating, understanding and empathetic. And she ‘got it’. She totally understood the concerns we had for Callum, and she and the rest of the staff bent over backwards to help us keep him safe. Letitia alerted all the staff to Callum and his allergies, making sure they were all fully aware of the situation, thus ensuring he was safe for the duration of our visit.

As soon as I mentioned allergies, the allergy folder was brought out to me to review. Whilst the font size leaves you wanting to use a magnifying glass, all the necessary information was there and clear to read.

Callum couldn’t have a proper starter, but they ensured he got a totally new and fresh cucumber, cut with a clean knife, on a new and clean chopping board to avoid cross contamination.

When it came to his main, he was able to have a gluten-free pizza base as it was dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and gluten-free, and they are all individually wrapped.

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This is the best bit…… Letitia was so worried about little dude getting poorly from cross-contamination, she personally cleaned a tray for Callum’s pizza to sit on so that it was totally safe for him, and then brought it to me, so that I could put on his homemade nomato sauce and cheese. For the extra toppings of ham and olives, they opened new packs and put them straight onto dishes straight out of the dishwasher, again to avoid cross contamination.

They even present cooked gluten-free pizzas on a slate plate so that there is no chance of error, as they stand out from their normal plates.

The attention to detail was so refreshing!!

Callum was even able to have a pudding, as the raspberry sorbet is dairy-free! And his little face when he saw it just made our night. In fact, truth be told, I was a little choked up by that point. We have only ever had 1 other fantastic experience whilst out eating, so this really meant so much to us.

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Pizza Express I give you a 10 out of 10 because:

  • You ‘get’ allergies and cross contamination
  • You understand your customers and will bend over backwards to help them
  • You are totally accommodating
  • Your staff are extremely well trained (they have to try every single dish on the menu so they can answer any question asked on dishes available)
  • You provide a wonderful venue

I have only 2 observations/ suggestions for you Pizza Express:

  • Use your fabulous gluten-free pizza base recipe to also offer gluten-free dough balls!
  • Offer dairy-free options – it’s as big a market as gluten-free and you are already so good with the gluten-free side, it would be a shame not to do this too!

I would be more than happy to help you with this Head Office, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

Finally, THANK YOU once again, you are on my list of safe venues, and will be recommended to all in the allergy world!


0 # Guest 2015-02-05 21:10
What a great read, Callum's face says it all.
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0 # The Intolerant Gourmand 2015-02-05 21:17
We have never seen him so happy when eating out! Was very emotional!
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0 # Guest 2015-02-07 20:44
When did my bestie get so big!
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0 # The Intolerant Gourmand 2015-02-07 21:52
I know!!! He's had a major growth spurt over the last few weeks, long time needed though, he's still in age 2 clothes....!!
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0 # Guest 2015-02-09 13:11
Pizza Express is one of the only places that we trust too! It is a fantastic place to eat with allergies and they do, as you say, go out of their way to make you feel safe. I am so glad that you guys had a good experience. They are certainly setting themselves aside from other chain restaurants. :)
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0 # The Intolerant Gourmand 2015-10-08 20:05
They are so so good aren't they Vicky! I trust very few places with Callum as he reacts so quickly. Each and every time we've been to Puzza Express we've had a great experience! x
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