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Wahaca, Covent Garden

August 25, 2011

I’m a big fan of Thomasina Miers; her cook book is a firm favourite on our bookshelf, and I loved her series on Channel 5. During a brief trip into London we decided we had to try her Covent Garden restaurant; everything which we’ve made from Mexican Food Made Simple has been fantastic!

The restaurant itself looks brilliant; the perfect mix of rustic, unfinished edges and neat crisp fittings. The format somewhat reminded me of Wagamama’s service; paper placemat menus and a casual atmosphere.

Despite the brilliant surroundings, relaxed atmosphere and brilliant food- the service badly let this restaurant down. I’m no newby to approaching waiting staff to ask about the vegan options, and I’ve received a varied response from different restaurants. Mexican food is one of the few cuisines which is so easily made vegan; omitting a few sauces or the cheese and ensuring that the basis of the meal is vegetarian, and bingo- you’ve got yourself some vegan eats. Or, not.

Our waitress explained the menu well, the format and amount of food recommended to order etc. I asked to see a copy of their allergy list, which I knew featured a helpful Vegan column. I was told quite simply that this didn’t exist. Are you sure? No allergy list? I was rudely told that this list did not exist, and she pointed to various dishes which could be made vegan (including dishes which could not be made vegan… even ones which I had seen featured on vegan blogs. Interesting).

So, back to this allergy list which didn’t exist.

So, I must have imagined this vegan list? It definitely doesn’t exist, apparently.

Thank goodness for mobile internet! We called over one of the management team and showed her the above image, and asked again for the allergy list. She stared at the screen and told us blankly that it was in the kitchen.
Can we see this list then….? She left the table in silence. Wonderful customer service, eh?

A few minutes later she returned and put the chart on the table and left. What shocked me most was this blatant disregard in ensuring that her customers could read the chart, and knew what they were ordering. The staff took no interest in going through our options and making sure that we ordered exactly what we wanted. When the original waitress returned to take our order she seemed surprised that we had obtained the imaginary chart, and took our order according to the guidelines. At least the chart is very easy to use (once you can bribe someone to bring it over to you) – it explains which dishes are already vegan, which ones cannot be made vegan, and what ingredients you should omit from dishes to ensure that they are vegan.

The food itself is brilliant, and faultless. The dishes have so much variety in flavour and heat – and there are plenty of sauces to add to your food so you can control exactly how hot you like the it. We ordered potato taquitos, summer vegetable tacos, huarache salad, tortilla chips with guacamole, and green rice. Everything tasted so fresh and really full of flavour.

It’s a great shame that Wahaca has let down a number of vegans due to the lack of helpful, or plainly misinformed, staff. For a restaurant with some wonderful food on offer, it’s such a shame that their front of house and waiting staff do such a dis-service to Thomasina’s brand and recipes.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 5:36 pm

    damn, sorry to hear your experience was…crap.
    surely there has to be a list at all time for allergies, even though i know there was one but you had to claw for it. What do people with a nut allergy do? Explain they need the list or they could die?

    pfft! crazy rude world.
    S.X

    • August 25, 2011 5:43 pm

      Exactly- when we tried explaining that it would be helpful to see the allergy list, she asked, “Do you have an allergy?”
      Impossible. The list is for gluten/ wheat/ dairy allergies, and vegans- it’s super helpful, as long as you can find it!

  2. renata@hotmail.com permalink
    August 30, 2011 10:58 am

    .

  3. renata@hotmail.com permalink
    August 30, 2011 11:01 am

    what a pitty
    vegans…………………..

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