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Most chain restaurants in the UK now print the calories on their menus – but what if you don’t want to see those for whatever reason? Well, here’s a list of the chains offering calorie free menus and how to access them.
Why Do Restaurants Now Show Calories on the Menus?
Because they have to.
As of April 2022, the law says that any restaurant in England with a staff of over 250 people needs to list the calories on their menu.
What that means is that pretty much any chain restaurant now will list them for you to see before you order.
But that’s not a good thing for everyone and so, some restaurants decided to offer calorie-free menus as an alternative.
- Why Do Restaurants Now Show Calories on the Menus?
- Can You Ask For a Calorie Free Menu?
- How to Find the Calorie-Free Menu at These Chains
- Ask Italian
- Bella Italia
- Café Rouge
- Cote Brasserie
- Frankie and Benny’s
- Las Iguanas
- Loch Fyne
- Pho Café
- Pizza Express
- Pizza Hut
- The Ivy Collection
Can You Ask For a Calorie Free Menu?
Yes, you can, and it’s perfect legal for a restaurant to offer this as an option.
But, just like once upon a time, it used to be tricky to find the nutritional information for some restaurants, it can now be difficult to find out which restaurants have calorie-free menus or how you access them – so I decided to compile a list.
Some chains offer a separate printed menu that has the numbers omitted, others have a QR code on the table that will take you to a calorie-free menu on their website, or will direct you there another way to order. Some even offer menus with no calories as standard and use the QR code to send people to the calorie’d up version instead.
There are even cases in Dishoom, Nando’s and a couple of other places where servers have scrubbed off the calories with a pen if there wasn’t a calorie-free menu available for some reason.
The fact is that most of the chains offer some kind of facility for ordering without knowing calories and are quite happy for people to use it, so don’t worry about asking for a menu without calories or using the website to check what you want to order.
Also look out for independent restaurants or smaller chains that maybe don’t yet have that many staff or locations – they’ll also be exempt from the rule of having to provide calories on the menus.
For More Advice
If you’re looking for some other tips on eating out in a world with calories on the menu if it’s difficult or triggering for you, BEAT have a great article full of advice on their website. You’ll find it here.
How to Find the Calorie-Free Menu at These Chains
As I said, there’s lots of different ways to access the calorie-free options at the chains (if they have them) so, here’s a list which explains what’s on offer chain by chain – and where to find a calorie-free menu if they do offer it.
I’m focusing here on traditional eat in chain restaurants (so like Pizza Express, Wagamama, Chiquito etc) rather than more informal places like Nandos, Leon, Itsu etc, or pubs.
I might add those later, or do other posts on those when I get a minute. Let me know in the comments if you think this would be helpful.
They have printed menus inside the restaurant that have calories removed you just need to erm, ask for them.
If you’re researching options ahead of time, their online menu has a button on the side that you can toggle to remove the calorie counts.
Their website also has a toggle button so you can remove them.
They don’t state on the website if they have calorie-free menus in store, but I emailed and asked them and they just told me you can toggle off them on the website.
That didn’t quite answer my question, but, from responses from other chains leads me to believe this means it’s best to use the online menu to order from.
Not only are the calories on the website set to ‘off’ as default, according to the team at Bills the menu you’re given in the restaurant doesn’t display calories, you have to click through on the QR code on the menu to access them.
That toggle button seems to be the key point on any website now – you get the chance to switch them off online.
When I asked them about calorie-free menus in the restaurant they suggested asking the server to remove the menu as they would have calories on them – so, I guess that means it’s best to choose via the website menu.
The magic toggle button is in full effect on line but they don’t say if they offer calorie-free options in the restaurant.
In fact, the FAQ section about whether they even provide calories still says they don’t publish them at all, and that’s also what they said when I emailed them and asked – erm, guys you need an update!
I’m guessing this means they possibly don’t have calorie-free menus (but if I’m wrong, please let me know in the comments).
Again, you can toggle them off on the website menu.
They don’t specify about their in-house calorie free menu online, but I’ve been told by others that calorie-free menus are available.
Became one of the pioneers of the calorie menu option after one of their staff scribbled over the calorie counts for someone who had asked for a menu without them.
You’ll find calorie-free menus in all restaurants and online – you need to download a PDF to see the actual numbers.
Frankie and Benny’s
They don’t provide calorie-free menus instore, so, according to their twitter replies, they suggest using the menu on the website to order from as that has the magic toggle button.
They don’t seem to offer the option to turn them off online anywhere that I can find.
Nor, is there any information on calorie-free menus on the website, their twitter feed or elsewhere online. I’m waiting to hear back from them directly.
They told me that they don’t offer calorie-free menus in the restaurant, but they do have the magic toggle button online so you can use that to choose your meal.
I didn’t see an option to turn off calories on the online menu. And, when I asked them if they offered calorie free menus in the restaurant they told me…
‘Due to Government legislation businesses with 250 or more employees must implement mandatory calorie labelling.
As Greene King does have more than 250 employees we must display calorie information on all of our menus.’ – which we all kind of know! So, I’m guessing they either didn’t read my email properly, or that’s a no.
Pho worked with a nutritionist to find out the impact of putting calories on their menus and decided to go with the option to choose to see them, rather than offering caloried menus as standard.
They also talk about the Priority Pyramid, where how many calories are in a dish should be the last important thing about deciding where to dine. You’ll be in safe hands at Pho.
Pizza Express were one of the first people to offer a separate calorie-free menu in their restaurant, you just have to ask for it.
But interestingly, I can’t see how to toggle off the calories on the website.
According to their twitter team, ordering from the website is also the best way to go calorie free in the restaurant – they say most people actually use this anyway so your server won’t think it’s strange.
However, while you can turn calories off on the website, it took me a minute to see where as they don’t use the ubiquitous toggle button. It’s on the top menu bar and it says ‘hide calories’.
When you first go into the Prezzo menu, you don’t see any calories. After a day of going onto 15 sites before them which did have them, it was now actually weird to see one without it. If you want to see the calories, you need to go to a separate section of the website entirely.
They do have calories on the menu at the restaurant, as they must, but you can easily go online and not have to toggle anything.
The Ivy Collection
The menus on the Ivy Collection website come without calories as standard – they use a QR code to display them to those who want them.
You’ll also be given a calorie free menu when you eat in.
If you eat in house, then Wagamama offer a no-calorie menu as an option.
The calories are on the website, and I can’t see a way to turn them off – which is odd because I’m sure they used to have one as that’s where I first noticed that you could do it (apologies if I’m incorrect here guys – maybe, it’s just not working for me today).
They do list the calories on the menu online and I can’t see an obvious way to turn them off. However, when I emailed them and asked them about the situation in the restaurant, they said they would suggest the idea of a toggle off to the website team as a possible addition – so that might have changed by the time you read this.
They do have calorie free menus in the restaurant though.
The toggle button is back allowing you to switch off the calories on the online menu. Zizzi also have calorie-free menus available in the restaurant for anyone who asks for them.
So there you have it – our list of where to find calorie-free menus. If you find anyone else then please add them in the comments to help other people find them too, or if I forgot your favourite restaurant let me know and I’ll see if I can find out for you.
Now, I do want to add a little warning here as I’m guessing most of you found this post via google and if you liked it now, maybe, you might wonder what else is on the site.
I’d love you to go and find out, but, I just wanted to point out that I do write quite a lot of posts on calorie and weight-related info so, maybe steer clear of going any further if that’s not a good place for you to go right now – I’d much rather you were happy and healthy than have more page views!
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.