Just under 1,000 outlets across the UK
Silver Winner 2017
Nota Bene. Three different judges visited three Wetherspoon pubs across the country. One judge was bowled over both by the food and by the allergy aware-service they experienced; one was impressed with the service and the food but found the allergen information hard to navigate; the third was impressed by the quality and quantity of the food but felt less confident about the service.
The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards do understand that while good control systems can be implemented and interesting freefrom menus offered throughout a chain, it is all but impossible, no matter how well they are trained, to guarantee that all staff (of which there may be many hundreds if not thousands) will always be as caring, careful and allergy aware as one might wish. We take this into account when judging entries.
The comments below are drawn from all three judges.
Judges comments - July/August 2017
'Initial welcome was excellent. Before committing to eat I explained I was coeliac, had a hazelnut allergy and it was my first time eating at a Wetherspoon's pub. I was guided to the dedicated freefrom menus and also offered, a 14 Allergen matrix so I could check dishes for the presence of nuts. Staff were able to describe to me several allergen-safe protocols including front of house to kitchen communication and the separate grills available for grilling foods containing and not containing gluten.'
'Apparently Wetherspoon's have stopped printing their allergen menus (you can still access them on line) and are concentrating on just putting G on their menus – although they do have a huge allergen matrix which you can consult. A shame as ploughing through the matrix was a bit of a mission.'
Ed. Printed or not....
'There is a menu disclaimer stating that based on risk assessment and the presence of allergens in the kitchen nothing has a guarantee of being allergen free. With the rare exception of entirely allergen free kitchens I do not know of any venues that provide such a guarantee so I view this carefully explained disclaimer as good practice.'
'The person who took my order was excellent - could not praise her enough. She clearly had been trained and was aware of the seriousness of allergies, cross contamination and being a coeliac. She made a special effort to go and speak with the chef and she then served the food to us at the table. I was really confident that the meal was safe.'
'Many gluten-free dishes were traditional favourites but it was nice to see a curry with popadums, chicken salad bowl as well as heavier dishes like steak and lamb shank. They had one gluten free beer available.'
'The food was surprisingly good considering the low cost. Nachos were crispy and crunchy and very well accompanied by their dips; Quinoa Salad was a fresh, bright, rainbow on a plate and well seasoned. Apple Crumble dessert was filling, warming and not too sweet, with pleasant silky and crumbly textures.'
'Starter was classed as a small plate - halloumi, small nachos, tandoori chicken bites (very tasty) which were all gluten free. Halloumi came with rocket and sweet chilli sauce and tasted really nice. Lamb shank - good portion with gravy and mash. Chicken tikka masala with poppadum and sweet potato and chickpea curry also very tasty.'
'Good value for money. The staff were very helpful and friendly and I did not feel I was asking too many questions or my requests were over the top. There were many options to choose from if you were coeliac but if you had multiple allergies and / or a gluten-free vegan it would be more limited.'