Here’s a fascinating statistic, over 100,000 people have visited this blog looking for the calorie counts of the chain restaurants in the UK.
It’s been updated a few times, calorie counts have come and gone, new restaurants have appeared and others have vanished off the face of the earth but one thing is still true – a lot of restaurants still don’t publish their calorie counts – or, they make them tricky to find on their menu.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I eat out A LOT and the fact that it’s virtually impossible to determine the calorie counts of anything on a restaurant menu – except, possibly, a plain grilled steak with a plain salad – drives me insane.
I find it a bit daft really – I suppose they think people might think twice about ordering the pasty, chips and beans (ahem) if they see it has over 1200 calories a portion, but looking at it from the opposite angle, wouldn’t you be more keen to eat out if you knew that at Zizzi you could have a creamy Funghi Risotto and a Baby Gem salad for just 479 calories, or that the ultra-indulgent sounding Duck Confit with Orange Sauce at Cafe Rouge is only 426 calories. Even side dishes throw up surprises – the ‘avoid like the plague as it says butter’ side dish of buttered spinach at Loch Fyne has 46 fewer calories than the steamed vegetables!
This post aims to help you find what you’re looking for. It tells you what chain restaurants do publish nutritional information – and which don’t. For most that do, it pinpoints one or two of the lowest calories dishes on the menu that you can order – and, in case you have something else in mind, it will show you where you’ll find whatever calorie information is available from the chain in question as of July 2019.
My advice is to bookmark this post on your smartphone, so, next time you’re out and want to know the calories at a restaurant chain you can click back here, click on the page of your chosen restaurant and make the right choice. So, here goes….
The Good Guys
These are the chain restaurants in the UK that fully publish their calorie counts on their websites in some way or another.
Lists calories for all their dishes broken down in categories like starters, pasta and pizza. Careful though, the first column is only by 100g, you need to check the second column for the full serving sizes. Looking here you’ll see your best choice is the Pollo Milanese at 480 calories. Find the full list here
List everything via a clearly marked link on the website. You’ll find it here if you want to go and investigate. Everything is listed by category. If you want to save some time, check out this post on the lowest calorie options in Bella Italia where I’ve sorted them out for you.
Have a lovely clear calorie list of everything on the menu. It’s a bit tricky to find at first – you need to pick which restaurant you’re dining at and then, click on the time you’re dining – ie breakfast, brunch, dinner etc – that brings up the full menu – and then, hiding at the bottom is a button marked nutritional information which gives you everything you need. If that all sounds a bit time consuming, try this link which is for the latest on the day I write this (but they do seem to update them quite often). A few low-cal breakfast highlights are the Eggs Benedict without Hollandaise (244 calories) and the Smashed Avocado and Poached Eggs on Toast at 426.
Have a full list of calories on their website of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The big surprise to me was that 426 calorie Duck in Orange Sauce I mentioned above, but some other good choices would be the Moules Provencales at 479 calories or the Chicken and Avocado salad at 348. Find the full list of Cafe Rouge calories here.
Are completely open about the calories in their fantastic dish dishes publishing a full list of them. Not surprisingly, the more simple the fish the better – the best starter to order, for example, is a couple of oysters with lemon, vinegar and Tabasco at 60 calories each. The Steamed Bream is just 274 (plus whatever side dish you choose). We’d go buttered spinach at 50 calories a serving.
This Vietnamese chain not only publish their calories, they keep them pretty constant too. I recently went to check on a post where I picked the lowest calorie items and the menu, and nutritional information was pretty much unchanged. There’s a lot of healthy dishes on the Pho menu, so many I’ve written an entire post on choices in Pho under 400 calories. Click the link to check it out.
Not only do they offer the Legarra range at under 600 calories to minimise temptation when you sit in the restaurant they also offer a full list of calories of everything else on their website. You’ll find the link here on their Frequently Asked Questions section. The lowest calorie pizza on it is the Leggara Wholemeal Roasted Veg & Ricotta at 439 calories.
This one is big and it has very small type, but if you scan down to page 37 of this document (told you it was big), you will find a list of all the Pizza Hut calories). You do have to a little bit of maths as they list them by slice, but they definitely aren’t hiding anything.
Has everything listed on a nice easy to see list that matches the menu. Lowest calorie choice is the Grilled Chicken Breast with Mushrooms (384). The Garlic Mushroom is the lowest pizza (595) and for pasta it’s the Pancetta, Pea and Mushroom Penne at 492 calories.
They list the calories in every dish – it’s a bit of a palaver to find them. You need to go on the menu, select the dish you fancy and then go to the read more section, but they are on there. If you want the hard work done for you, head over to my post on Wagamama Calories where you’ll find all the highlights – spoiler, The Pad Thai Salad is the absolute lowest in calories.
Click on the menu section of their website and you can have all sorts of calorie-filled fun. They let you filter the menu so you only see dishes of under 600 calories (make a list and take it with you) or, scan down a bit further and you’ll see a button that says ‘download nutrition’ where you’ll find everything. It’s here if you’re in a rush.
The lowest calorie dish at Zizzi is the Spiedini Pollo at 316 calories, or, if you fancy going vegan, the Vegan Beetballs Polpette is only 235 calories.
The OK Guys
These at least give you some clues as to what is in things – although, they don’t always make it easy. Here’s what you can find out…
They don’t publish the calories, but for a while, if you tweeted them at @giraffetweet on twitter, they were telling people what was in the dish they were after. Some examples from the twitter feed included the Halloumi and Feta Pide at 468 calories, the Smoky Chicken Pide at 538 and I found out that the lowest calorie choice is the San Fran Super Salad, but they didn’t say how many calories it had. However, it seems things have changed and now they ask you to email email@example.com to get calories – and it can take up to a week for them to reply!!!! Best plan your visit in advance.
These are the chain restaurants that don’t publish their calories anywhere – well that I can find at least. You do find some sites online saying that they have the calories but I’m not sure where they have got those from.
They say your server can suggest some lighter options for you.
Frankie and Benny’s.
If I had a pound for everyone who comes to this website looking for Frankie and Benny’s calories, I’d be richer than Frankie and Benny. They are part of the same group as Chiquito and so don’t publish calories. Just like Chiquito, they say ‘We don’t currently publish a full list of calorie information for our dishes. However, your server will be happy to recommend one of our lighter and healthier selections.’ Interesting, the group that owns the two also bought Wagamama which is super transparent on their calories so here’s hoping they’ll follow suit.
I can’t find their calories anywhere. They don’t mention them.
Can’t find them listed anywhere and they don’t mention anything about them.
They used to publish a full list but not any more. They are rebranding though with fewer sites so maybe it will come back.
Say that they don’t publish specific calorific content, but all Fridays meals come with the Five Easy Pieces Promise – if you would like to swap your fries for vegetable or salad, just ask as we’re happy to adapt any meal to suit our guest’s tastes and dietary requirements.
On their website it states. ‘Nutritional information and calorie counts are not something we currently have available, though it’s something we are investigating. If you are looking for lower calorie items we’d recommend our salads (without the tortilla bowl and perhaps with dressing on the side), vegetable or steak tacos (without cheese), or anything from the grill (grilled steak, chicken or fish).’
So, there you have it. Did I forget anyone? If so, please pop a comment below and I will add them to the list.
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