The most surprising detail in Pete Wells's two-star review of La Sirena is an anecdote about an allergy scare, wherein his son was served a previously disclosed allergen. It's the kind of scenario restaurants worry about constantly, one servers are quizzed on daily during pre-shift in hopes of avoiding any version of the situation that happened to Wells. On a later visit to the restaurant, the critic notes that staff was hyper-sensitive to taking care of any allergies. And now an Eater reader sends word that it’s not just a case of a critic getting special service. From the tipline:
My girlfriend ate there last Friday night and when the waiter asked about allergies, one of the girls said she had a few allergies but to not worry about them because they weren't serious or life threatening. The server insisted that she told them her allergies and it ended up being a few things that aren't typical like raw carrots. After she ordered something that was perceived to be a conflict with her allergies the server wouldn't let her order the dish, even though she insisted on ordering it and that it wouldn't be a problem. He told her he couldn't accept the order but he would have a manager come over to speak with her. Eventually they were able to get what they had wanted but they were seated for almost 45 minutes before they were allowed to order.
When reached for comment, La Sirena's executive chef and partner Josh Laurano emphasizes that the restaurant's allergy protocol has been the same since opening in February. "Nothing has changed," notes Laurano. "We had a miss." The chef explains that the restaurant is incredibly diligent when dealing with allergies, and will continue to take the matter seriously. It is of course unfortunate, that a mistake that has happened to plenty of other restaurants and several other kitchens happened when the New York Times critic was in the dining room.
Do you have any stories about allergy close calls from working in restaurants? Or any thoughts on how restaurants should handle allergies? Please share them in the comments.