Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Review: Milestones (Ottawa)

Restaurants that appear on AllergyBites may have updated their menu or changed management since a review was posted. Please confirm that they are still allergy-friendly & that menu items don’t contain your allergen(s) before visiting or placing your order.

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Milestones Goes the Extra Mile

By Lisa Ienzi

Under our roof, we have six food allergies between two children: dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, flax and mustard. Prior to food allergies, dining out was something we enjoyed, and Milestones was one of our of go-to spots.

Once food allergies entered the picture, something as simple as going out for dinner became extremely complicated and stressful. But still, for us, it’s important to try to live as “normal” a life as possible (which is often easier said than done), and this includes going out for a meal as a family. That said, we can’t just pick up and go to any restaurant these days. It takes time to figure out if a spot is a safe place for our children.

So how do we define “safe”? Management that understands food allergies, takes them seriously, comprehends the severity of them (because… life-threatening!), and is able to accommodate their food-allergic customer’s needs.

Before heading to a new restaurant, we always play the role of  investigator — researching, reviewing, making phone calls, reaching out to other members of our Teal Community, and asking establishments a multitude of questions before saying: “Yes, this place is safe for us!”

 

When it came to “investigating” Milestones, I initially headed there for dinner without my children (but ordered as if my kids were going to eat the food**). I quickly learned that the staff at Milestones is compassionate, understanding, and patient. In short, they are allergy-aware, and will go the extra mile to ensure their customers are satisfied. Most importantly, they prioritize the safety of their customers.

**Milestones was 100% aware and supported my ordering strategy, and knew I was not the one with the food allergies.

When my investigation was complete, and I realized Milestones takes food allergies seriously, I was DELIGHTED (cue jumping up and down with a huge smile on my face!). As a result, it has become our go-to spot once again!

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We always visit Milestones (and any other restaurant) during their slow hours, and are sure to keep our meals simple. This makes it easier for kitchen staff to do their magic and whip up some amazing and safe food for us.

We tend to order veggies, a meat (steak, salmon, shrimp skewers, burger patties — sans bun due to sesame, dairy and flax allergies), and Jasmine rice. (FYI: If you have a mustard allergy, the chicken breast is a no-can-do because they arrive pre-marinated and mustard is an ingredient used in the marinade.)

When our food is being prepared, they cook our meat in a pan to ensure there is no cross contamination from the grill. And as someone who always orders steak with each visit, they always get it right — medium-rare all the way!

Unfortunately, due to a shared fryer and the risk of cross-contamination, we are not able to have the fries, but on occasion (when the chef isn’t swamped), he has graciously made my children baked fries, which makes my kiddos over-the-moon happy (which then makes me a very happy allergy mama!). Of course, this is a very big deal to a 2- and 4-year-old! ← See, yet another reason why Milestones is top-notch amazing!

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Because Milestones takes food allergies seriously, their staff receives training with a specific unit on allergy awareness, including how to keep their customers safe from the moment a customer has identified themselves as having food allergies, through the meal preparation and cooking process, to the delivery of the meal.

If an order involves food allergies, the meal is always prepared with extreme caution. Milestones only uses safe ingredients that have not come into contact with the allergens in question (often by pulling ingredients from their main walk-in fridge to ensure there hasn’t been any cross contamination). Many times, they opt to prepare food allergy meals in a separate location that hasn’t come into contact with the customer’s allergens. And when cooking, they will often use the stove top rather than the grill or fryer to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

Milestones employees also help their customers navigate their way through the menu to locate safe meal options — sometimes menu items are safe right from the start (depending on the allergies in question); other times menu items need to be modified in order to be safe. And there are even times they will create dishes from scratch for their customers with food allergies.

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The best part is that Milestones can accommodate any allergy, as most of their menu items are made in-house and fresh. And for items that aren’t (like the chicken breast mentioned above), they have detailed ingredient lists for each.

In keeping up with their support for food allergy families, Milestones Pinecrest was happy to host one of Ottawa’s #AllergyMom Meetups (and has offered to host more in the future — YAY!!). From the moment I was in contact with the general manager, he was on board, and made sure everything was perfect. He even sat us in a section with a server that also has food allergies.

All in all, it was a fabulous night, with fabulous moms, in a fabulous restaurant that has your best interest at heart from the moment the reservation is made, right through until you have enjoyed every last bite of your meal.

And to add to what was an already wonderful evening, the general manager also generously donated a gift card for the #AllergyMom meetup door prize! How awesome is that?!

Well, there you have it folks. Now you know why this restaurant is my #1 — because at Milestones, you are guaranteed to get the whole package deal!

P.S. Milestones is a part of the Recipe Unlimited Corporation, where (clearly!) food allergies are taken seriously. And because Milestones restaurants can be found in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland & Labrador, travelling in Canada suddenly feels a little easier… knowing there’s a Milestones just around the corner.


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