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tree nut allergy and eating pub sandwiches in London

  • m

hi! we are going to england in 2 weeks and my son is allergic to tree nuts. Can anyone tell me what the basic breads are in pubs for sandwiches? Is it white, wheat and any other? are nuts typically in pub breads?

is there a common pub chain in England i can contact before we go to ask about tree nuts and their sandwiches?

thanks so much everyoen!

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  1. hi moi, i don't think there is a common pub chain that anyone would recommend you eat in - none of them have a good food reputation!

    most plcaes that do sandwiches offer a choice of white or brown wheat breads. the browns may vary - malt, granary, wholemeal - but beyond that it'll be sandwich shops or delis that offer a broader range of breads.

    1. I am also allergic to a lot of tree nuts. I have never had a problem with a pub sandwich in the UK as most breads are quite basic with the most exotic being a granary wholegrain bread.

      One area to watch is cheese plates/boards in restaurants they will often have a walnut loaf, but as this is expensive you won't find it in a pub. I was also very cautious about whole-food cafes or vegetarian places as these tended to have more exotic breads/salads and the nut risk was quite high.

      1. Nut allergies are fairly common here now unfortunately, so just ask in your chosen spot. Most breads won't contain nuts.

        4 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I found out about Chowhound from a friend of mine, Mila Oh (moh) who recently passed away---she was an animated chowhound member who will be missed!

          we are going to london and paris this summer and have a son with a tree nut allergy. PhilD, since you are allergic to tree nuts, you probably really know where to go and not go. We will be travelling around so pubs will be easy to go in and get a pub sandwich (i remember those from 1985 when i was in england!) Any info you can type would be fabulous because i haven't been able to get much information so far despite hours searching on the internet.

          so if you are online and want to type up some info, I will take it! thank you so much!!!!

          any good fish and chips places in london or oxford?

          1. re: moi

            There's no ambiance at Master's Superfish, but they really serve very good fish and chips and are at a handy location just a few blocks from Waterloo.

            My first trip to England was around the same time as yours in '85, and now that I live here, I can promise you a great surprise when it comes to food, pubs etc. There are so many other options rather than the handy street corner pub, so read some good blogs like Dos Hermanos and see what's in right now.

            1. re: moi

              To be honest I have never had much of an issue with most UK food. Tree nuts are expensive and thus not that common, and if in dishes they are usually explicitly mentioned as a feature (obviously different for ground/pea nuts as these are cheap filler and get everywhere). I am also not allergic to every nut so can eat some types.

              I navigate menus by simply using common sense and take care in reading the whole description. So don't order pesto (the pine nuts) or tarts and cakes made with almond meal. Carrott cakes are always avoided as they are usually dosed with walnuts, and of course some chefs now use nut oils (walnut or hazelnut) in salads but this is really only at the top end.

              I used to take a bit more care in middle eastern restaurants as some salads may have pine nuts, but again they aren't a cheap ingredient so are not liberally sprinked through salads (as they would be in their countries of origin). I can't think of a middle eastern Kebab that has nuts in it, but obviously the salads may have pine nuts. In other food cultures it is again quite easy to avoid nut dishes, I don't order cashew nut dishes in Chinese restaurants, and I avoid those dishes with pistachios in Indian restaurants, and obviously the flaked almonds scattered trough some rice dishes can be a problem (although I eat almonds).

              As others have said you will see some disclaimers on menus "food may contain nuts" which is usually a sign the food is bought in and made in a factory where there are nuts. It never put me off as I see that a s a legal disclaimer, I simply read the description of the dishes carefully and asked if I was in doubt. However, I tend to avoid asking if I can because the staff often make too much fuss and may over compensate, so I usually reserve that for multi course degustation menus where the chef dosen't tell you what is next.

              IMO places with menu annotations like "nut free" dishes are best avoided, there is something odd about a place that needs to spell it out in that way, and I think it is more directed at the peanut allergies, after all it is usually quite obvious what has tree nuts as an ingredient.

              1. re: PhilD

                Just wondering, Phil... since peanuts are not truly a 'nut,' per se... are you allergic to them, too? I always wondered about how that works.

                I'm allergic to clams and have to be careful at times with certain seafood dishes. Luckily, prawns, crab, and lobster do me no harm.

          2. The expression "tree nut" is not really used in the UK, and may confuse some of the prople who serve you (especially the younger cheap-labour staff you will meet). Assuming you are talking about everything from peanuts to Brazil nuts it's probably best just to stick to the word "nut".

            There is pretty good awareness of the problem here, but some of the non English-speaking budget take-away places might not be up to speed. Helpfully, packaged food products like supermarket bought sandwiches carry a printed guide to their likely nut contamination levels. This normally ends with the disclaimer: "Cannot guarantee factory nut free"

            1. I'd suggest that most pub chains which have a printed menu are likely to offer the disclaimer that they cannot guarantee nut free in anything. It's because they buy in so much pre-made from the catering wholesalers.

              I believe it was my super-hero, Jay Rayner, who suggested this was also a pretty good indicator about how crap any restaurant was - if they have the disclaimer, they don't know exactly what they're cooking .

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                thank you all sooooo much. i have found that Rainforest cafe in london has 'nut free' noted on their menu items that are nut free. Also, Wagamama's has a separate menu as to what is nut free. Now i am looking at McVities Digestives which i just LOVE. I can eat digestives the entire time i am there. and also looking at kebabs! Need to check out the kebab bread and meat!