What to ask on an inquiry when you have dietary restriction

When you had some dietary, there is a layer of difficulty when you want to go eat outside. Sometimes you want to eat something fancy, and for better or worse, you need to make sure if you can order something. Today I want to share how I usually get it done.

My dietary restrictions is not able to eat pork and having alcohol both as a cooking ingredients and beverages.

To ask the restaurant / dining establishment three weeks to three days in advance, will give you a good amount of time to decided if you want to go with a restaurant and to restaurant to prepared the adjusted menu. Usually, I plan something a month in advance, and on the first week I will list the place that might be a good options and narrow it down to the one that realistic enough to have me as a guest. And then I will shot an email to one that I think had a good chance. They will need at least one business day to get back to you.

Here is some example on an email that I sent when I make inquiry for an afternoon tea.
(memo: the afternoon tea monthly menu has been published on the lounge’s website and at the time I want to make reservation, there’s no chicken dishes involved, hence I didn’t ask).

(Disclaimer: This email has been altered for illustration purpose. Also because when I read those email again my grammar and choice of words was messy – what’s wrong with me)

Hello *insert lounge name in here*,

I would like to make a reservation for Weekday Afternoon Tea Time at *insert lounge name in here* for *insert month/date in here*. But I have a few questions regarding the menu. I have dietary restrictions where I couldn’t eat beef, pork, and alcohol (including alcohol-infused food & drinks). Fish is ok for me. I saw the menu and I think there are savory dishes that use beef and pork (Beef Sandwich with Mizuna Leaves and Miso Flavoured Mustard Sauce in Old Style, and Cold Melon Soup, Parma Ham and Grissini). Is it possible if I asked to substitute the ingredients with the one that didn’t use pork or alcohol? For example, can we switch pork with tuna?

I understand if the ingredients is not possible to switch and the available option is to remove the beef / pork / ham part at all.

And for the sweets, I think it looks okay, but can I check if there are any alcohol ingredients on the process of making?

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

and then here is the reply:

Dear Ms Airin *insert my middle name in here*

Warm greeting from *insert dining establishment name in here*!
Thank you very much for your inquiry on the Afternoon tea at *insert lounge name in here*.
We have checked with the chefs and please be rest assured that they are able to adjust the menu to your dietary restrictions.

They will not use any alcohol in the process of making either.

There are more things on the reply after that regarding the seat availability. You need to let them know how much people you are coming with (if any, but I always go by myself lol), also if the person that come with you have the same dietary restriction or not. Since your food will be prepared in a small batch, you need to let them know when you are going to come so they can prepare accordingly (a.k.a make your reservation).

I was also let them know that I’m not able to have gelatin on my dessert (on the top of alcohol-based ingredients).

There’s a dedicated name for my dietary restriction. Usually I don’t like to tell directly, as I would prefer to assume that people don’t know about it. I mean, it’s easy for me as I understand, but it might be not for the other counterpart.

If you can give a hint that you are able to eat fish, it will makes the job easier since fish are always available in many dining establishment. Most of the time I will just tell that I’m a pescatarian whose also not able to have alcohol.

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