Life is predicted to get harder for some people with dietary requirements next year, according to a 2022 forecast published by Big Hospitality.
According to the industry publication, one big expectation for dining out in the new year is that top chefs will be more likely to refuse to cater to customers’ dietary issues – adopting what Grace Dent has referred to, in the case of Ynyshir chef-patron Gareth Ward, as ‘delicious pigheadedness’.
Big Hospitality has predicted that high-end dining will ‘go inflexible’, adding that ‘2022 may be the year that restaurants finally crack’ and stating more and more chefs are expected to follow the lead of the likes of Simon Martin at Mana, Manchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.
Here, menu adaptions are never made for a customer’s dislikes. What’s more, the creation of vegan menus is an absolute no-no as are any requests for lactose-free menus – as is plainly stated on Mana’s website, which customers are required to read ahead of making their booking.
The team requires guests to give its kitchen 48 hours’ notice for any allergies or intolerances they may have, including vegetarians, but when it comes to ingredients that people simply don’t want to eat, there is very little sympathy.
Guidelines are clear that the team cannot deal with last-minute preparation requests and states “if you have an allergy to an animal, fish or shellfish protein, our vegetarian equivalent will be provided as an alternative.
“This also applies to aversions due to religious reasons.”
Touching on the subject of religious diets, Mana is not alone in its refusal to budge.
Another fine dining spot in Manchester, the trendy NQ eatery District, has also proven itself unwilling to adapt this year after getting embroiled in a ‘religious diet’ row with a customer that went viral on social media.
The argument, which stemmed from the new wave Thai eatery’s non-refundable deposit policy, came to a head after a customer asked for its famously strict 12-course set menu to be altered to cater to his religious needs.
In this instance, the diner asked for a pork dish to be substituted after already paying his £15 deposit, at which point he had already been notified that he should contact the restaurant about dietaries before putting down any money for the booking.
After being told it was not possible, he emailed to ask “why not shout loud on your homepage ‘We don’t cater for Jews'”.
Ultimately, however, his threats to speak out on social media spectacularly backfired after the restaurant posted them to its social pages themselves – adding it ‘will not be bullied or threatened into returning deposits’.
Co-owner Ben Humphries later told the Manchester Evening News: “From the moment a guest makes a reservation work begins on sourcing and ordering the very best ingredients for their experience. If we then can not fill that table, this expensive produce may go to waste.”
Whilst some might consider a high-end restaurants’ refusal to modify their menu to suit the dietary requirements a bit inhospitable for hospitality, as prices continue to rise and margins get tighter, it is becoming necessary for businesses’ survival to make these calls.
Unfortunately, some of those people are just going to have to like it or lump it.
Feature image – District
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”