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Dining Out With Food Allergies: White Spot Restaurants

If you live in British Columbia or Alberta, you are likely familiar with White Spot and its chain of restaurants.

On a food allergy forum I follow, some allergy moms recommended White Spot as a safe choice for people with food allergies. One mom in particular mentioned that White Spot has a food allergy handbook which details the top allergens in their menu items.

I decided to visit White Spot's Oakridge location late last summer. As a precaution, I brought my little man's food with me in case they did not pass my test. I asked our server what menu items had peanuts and tree nuts and if there was a food allergen handbook. The server was not very helpful in describing White Spot's safe practices and said the only nuts present is in the salad bar. She said that she has worked at White Spot for many years and is not aware of a food allergen handbook. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with my experience and fed my little man the food I had brought.

Fast forward to last Christmas, we went to visit family in Victoria. I decided to give White Spot a second chance. We brought our little man's food as a precaution and as we sat down, I asked our server if they had an allergen menu. Our server kindly told me not only do they have an allergen menu, she proceeded to tell me about their safe practices: separate food preparation area and special notes they put on the order itself. She also brought me White Spot's allergy menu for me to pour over and dissect. Our server was very helpful and allergy aware that it gave me confidence to try to revisit White Spot again, at the same location.

Last week when we went to visit family in Victoria, we went back to the Fort Street location. As we sat down, I requested their allergy menu. We cross referenced this allergy menu with the kid's menu to find safe options for our little man.

Our server this time was fantastic and was very diligent when she placed our order making sure the allergy was dutifully noted to the kitchen staff. Since she also has two little kids, she requested for the little man's order to come out right away. As part of the kids combo, they offer ice cream as part of dessert. Our server volunteered to substitute in a fruit salad instead.

We were very happy with the service we received from the Fort Street location. I hope to repeat this success with other White Spot locations, in particular the Oakridge location.

Update (May 2015):
We went to visit White Spot in East Vancouver on Kingsway and found that location was not allergy aware. It took the on duty manager 30 minutes to find the allergy booklet, which was 3 years out of date. Our waitress had never heard of an allergy booklet. Had we not been dining with friends, we would have walked out. The training clearly is not consistent from one White Spot location to the next. This sentiment is echoed through other members in my local allergy support group who have found inconsistent service as each location is franchised.

I was also informed by a member of my allergy support group that the Zoo Sticks is not safe for those with peanut and tree nut allergies as it contains nuts or nut products in the batter. Please check with the manager or chef prior to ordering anything.

Questions & Concerns
If you have any concerns or questions about White Spot's menu or ingredients used you can contact them by mail or by phone:

Menu Development Department
White Spot Restaurants
1126 S.E. Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC 
V5X 2V7 Canada

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