Eating in omni restaurant

SummerRain

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Okay so I was wondering... what do you guys do when you eat in omnis restaurants? Do you phone ahead? Do you ask waiting staff? What do you ask? What's the best way to get vegan food in an omni restaurant quickly and painlessly?

I only ask because I don't mind eating in omni restaurants I know, but I hate going to new ones and having to ask a bunch of questions or trying to phone ahead only to get a clueless person on the end giving me useless advice ("oh yes we have vegan options" "great, what are they?" "we have lamb" genuine story).

I find the most useful is just to ask the waiting staff, who generally are either knowledgeable or go to ask the chef. I do worry that sometimes I get fobbed off though, it's never happened to my knowledge in a restaurant but in shops it's happened a fair few times.

I generally ask not if something is vegan, but I pick vegetarian labeled dishes and ask if they contain eggs and dairy (and honey if relevant), as usually I find the word vegan baffles people and they start just making things up or getting confused because they don't understand the word, or get confused. If it turns out the dish isn't vegan I instead ask if they could recommend something that would be suitable, so that we don't wind up going through 10 dishes this way.

But I only really do this in places I'm 95% sure I'll find something I can eat.

Anyway I was wondering what you guys do, what you find works, and if you have any good tips for getting vegan food in omni restaurants as painlessly as possible?
 

AeryFairy

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If you know where you're going in advance, google is your friend. If it's a fairly well-established place, there will probably be threads on forums and articles on websites about how veg-friendly it is, with suggestions of what to order. They may also have a menu online, so you can have a look in advance (saves a lot of time when you're there), and if you're really lucky, their allergy information will be online (so you can check for hidden dairy and eggs). Failing all of this, call - preferrably when they're likely to be less busy, so they will take time over your query.

If it's a spur of the moment thing, ask the server. Explain exactly what you need, rather than just throwing the v-word at them. Hopefully, they have an in-house allergy menu. If no whole dish is suitable, make your own suggestions (removing grilled chicken breasts from salads/pasta dishes, taking the cheese out of vegetarian items, using the side vegetables from a few items and some rice to create a stir fry, and so on).

I also try and stick to places I know I can eat, if possible; when my friends and I are hanging out, and decide to go for dinner, I start naming omni restaurants I've eaten at before. I have standard orders at pizza hut (cheeseless pizza) and pizza express (awesome veg salad, minus cheese, different dressing), most of the pubs in my area (grilled veg sandwiches, stir frys, salads, soup and chips), taco bell (bean tacos, no cheese), nandos (mushroom wrap), and a bunch of other places. Often, my friends will all start eyeing up my special order because it looks way nicer than what they've ordered :p
 

RabbitLuvr

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I mostly only go to restaurants I already know.

I really don't like talking one phone, so if there is someplace new I think I might want to try, I look to see if they have a menu online. If there is no online menu, I won't go.

My husband is omni, so sometimes he will go to new places with his mom, and report back to me if he thinks there are vegetarian options on the menu. But looking online is my go-to. No online menu is a no-go for me.

Once I'm in a restaurant, I rely on talking to the wait staff if I have more questions. Things don't always work out, but that's my process.

Recently I tried a new Thai restaurant that just opened up here. Husband wanted to try it, as we'd gotten a coupon in the mail. I looked at their menu online and saw a few vegetarian options, so we went. (The menu had allergy info listed, and the entrees didn't list fish, so no fish sauce.) At the Thai place we usually go to, we always start with soft spring rolls, which are made to order so we can get them without the meat. At the new place, they had "fresh basil spring rolls" on the menu, but they listed pork and shrimp. I thought this was no problem, but when I asked for veggie spring rolls the waitress said "well the pork is smooshed in there but you could pick it out." She scowled at me when I replied "so they're pre-made and not really 'fresh,' then?"
When ordering entrees, I asked for mine with tofu and veggies, and she said she would have to charge extra for extra veggies. I pointed to the menu where the options were "chicken, pork, or tofu & veggies," but she said the menu was wrong. So I just got mine with tofu. Also, some of the entrees came with chicken as a default and somehow could not be made without it.
Anyway, the food I got was edible but even my husband was dissatisfied with the few options I had, so we won't be going back there.

(Then we went to our regular place and told them the new Thai restaurant was no good. :p )
 
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Moll Flanders

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I basically do the same as AeryFairy. I try and eat out at veggie/vegan restaurants as much as possible but I have eaten at some chain restaurants and I have checked what I can eat there beforehand.
 

Alice-Bee

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In all honesty, we dont eat out much. My Mam has certain food phobias and it makes it difficult.
As for M and I hes happy to eat anywhere, if they also serve a bit of Omni food hes happy if not he'll get pasta or something.
As Im not 100% vegan yet I do sway on eating out and get the most vegany thing I can (like veggie pasta).
I havent been out for a while and Im getting confident about food so I might be tempted to ask for a meal to be altered (ie can I get this without cheese etc)
 
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led.boots

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I think that online menus have made it nearly effortless to eat vegan in omni restaurants. Since I'm a salad lover, if that's all they have, I can make do, but there is usually *something* else.

I usually don't say "vegan" unless the server brings it up or it seems like the kind of place that has vegan customers.

Recently a BBQ place opened right near my house, and it's a local guy, not a chain restaurant. My omni daughter lured me there with dollar drafts;), and they had a nice portabella and veg skewer and fabulous roasted corn on the cob. The owner came over and I told him I had 2 more vegans at home:D, and that since the neighborhood was kind of 'aging health conscious', I was sure some added vegan and vegetarian options would go over well. He said he is revamping the menu and would pass that on to the chef. They use local produce and suppliers, so I hope he does it well.
 

lucky_charm

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If its not a chain restaurant I phone ahead. Had some really good stuff that way made fresh because they had nothing on the menu. A particular favourite was the coconut rice cakes and vegetable tempura :)

Chain restaurants I look at the menu online but I've been to most of them and generally already have my go-to orders. By far the most common is getting pizza without the cheese (Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Frankie and Bennys, bella italia, zizzi etc) with whatever veggies they have (except onion) and fries on the side, I love pizza so works for me. Other places I have been are chiquito (nachos, veg fajitas, bean chilli etc), tgi Friday (a tomato based pasta or fajitas) Indian restaurants there are usually some dairy free veg curries with rice, wagamama (have vegan list, I usually get a rice-tofu-veggies thing with miso soup) I think there's stuff at yo sushi too, wetherspoon used to have curry but now it's supersalad, chips or baked potato with beans... When all else fails there's usually chips and either cooked veggies or salad.
 

AeryFairy

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TGI Fridays and Chiquitos both pre-cook the veg for their fajitas in garlic butter.

Yo sushi have an allergy menu online, there's loads of vegan stuff and they'll make things special too (inari pockets or hand rolls without the egg, avocado maki without the mayo, etc) because everything is made fresh :)

And some wetherspoons locations do a hummus and grilled veg sandwich which is vegan.
 

Alice-Bee

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TGI Fridays and Chiquitos both pre-cook the veg for their fajitas in garlic butter.

Yo sushi have an allergy menu online, there's loads of vegan stuff and they'll make things special too (inari pockets or hand rolls without the egg, avocado maki without the mayo, etc) because everything is made fresh :)

And some wetherspoons locations do a hummus and grilled veg sandwich which is vegan.

Need.:drool:
 
E

ElaineV

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There are a couple smart phone apps that can help.

Also, online lists/menus are useful.

For fancy restaurants I may call ahead. That's the only way to get something suitable.

For general everyday places I'll often just wing it. I don't usually ask a million questions, just one or two and then make educated guesses and order something I hope is vegan.
 

lucky_charm

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TGI Fridays and Chiquitos both pre-cook the veg for their fajitas in garlic butter.

Yo sushi have an allergy menu online, there's loads of vegan stuff and they'll make things special too (inari pockets or hand rolls without the egg, avocado maki without the mayo, etc) because everything is made fresh :)

And some wetherspoons locations do a hummus and grilled veg sandwich which is vegan.

I have never seen that sandwich :(

Ah ok I must have been told the wrong info by the chiquito server. I always get the chilli, hope she wasn't lying about that being ok too :/

TGIs I thought I'd seen it on their allergen list, must have been mistaken. They have a new list updated to March 2012 which shows salad and chips as vegan but half their menu isn't on it. They definitely dont seem to do the tomato pasta any more :(

http://www.tgifridays.co.uk/site/st...s/TGI_Fridays_GlutenFree_AllergyInfo_Menu.pdf
 

AeryFairy

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I have never seen that sandwich :(

Ah ok I must have been told the wrong info by the chiquito server. I always get the chilli, hope she wasn't lying about that being ok too :/

TGIs I thought I'd seen it on their allergen list, must have been mistaken. They have a new list updated to March 2012 which shows salad and chips as vegan but half their menu isn't on it. They definitely dont seem to do the tomato pasta any more :(

http://www.tgifridays.co.uk/site/st...s/TGI_Fridays_GlutenFree_AllergyInfo_Menu.pdf

It used to be suitable at TGIs, this is a fairly recent thing (last 6 months or so?). Me and boy went there when I was craving fajitas, I asked because i noticed the menu had changed. I ended up having some chips, tortillas, guac, and salad. Wasn't too happy. Although chips in a tortilla with guac is damn tasty.
 

lucky_charm

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The guac on that link says not suitable for vegans :( not sure why tho as it only says 'possible contamination' for eggs and dairy. Damn that TGIs. I suppose at least they do an allergen list. Think you could have a pretty good meal of a platter of fries, sweet potato wedges, onion rings (if you like onion which I don't :p) and salad though.
 

apple

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We also don't eat out very often and as we live in a small town, I know where I can get some nice veggie stuff. I still don't know what to do with my favourite Indian restaurant, when I switch to vegan now. They use ghee for almost everything...

Holidays abroad will be a greater challenge for me. A friend of mine sometimes says she is allergic to dairy products and eggs instead of saying she is vegan because she has been cheated a couple of times. Remains of cheese in a "freshly" made vegan sauce and so on. :rolleyes:
But I think, I won't feel comfortable with lying.
 

AeryFairy

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The guac on that link says not suitable for vegans :( not sure why tho as it only says 'possible contamination' for eggs and dairy. Damn that TGIs. I suppose at least they do an allergen list. Think you could have a pretty good meal of a platter of fries, sweet potato wedges, onion rings (if you like onion which I don't :p) and salad though.

They told me the guac was suitable, and it was listed as ok on the allergy menu... Grrrr. I don't go there any more anyway, too expensive for basically no food.
 

AlmandineSky

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I check online for a menu and if the menu doesn't look promising it depends on what I do. If it's just my husband and I we just pick somewhere else to check out. If I'm going with my dad or some other non-veg person then a lot of times I just wait until I get there to ask. The only times I call ahead is when it's going to be somewhere more expensive or that needs reservations. I'm pretty spoiled where I live with quite a few non-veg restaurants being pretty veg-friendly so I think that's why I don't really call ahead and I always figure the place will at least have salad that I can get with no dressing. Plus I hate talking on the phone if I can avoid it.
 

MrsSchu2u

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I look online and/or call ahead. MrSchu frequently has already called a place if he wants to go somewhere new.