Quick bites: Kudos to the Fat Duck


One of my biggest gripes has always been restaurants and/or celebrity chefs who are perfectly happy to take your money, but don’t wish to make much of an effort for anyone who doesn’t eat meat or fish. Any vegan or vegetarian can regale you with stories about how they’ve been ripped off in the past.

I am flatly refusing to go to Cafe Parisien in Portsmouth for anything more than coffee and cake after two years of disappointing Christmas meals. The meat eaters got the full works where there was so much food they couldn’t finish it. The vegetarians got risotto. Perfectly nice risotto, but not the most generous of portions (nouvelle cuisine sprang to mind) and with nothing to accompany it. Sod that for a game of soldiers …

And it must be even more frustrating – and potentially dangerous – if you have a food allergy or intolerance. I’m not a particular fan of Heston Blumenthal (yes, I did give his pretentious new cauliflower macaroni cheese for Waitrose a kicking here a few weeks ago). But kudos to him and the Fat Duck for providing an unforgettable eating experience for a customer who is both gluten and dairy intolerant. You’ll find Celia Pronto’s account of the meal here.

I wonder if they do the same for vegans and vegetarians …




4 responses »

  1. We went to a great restaurant here in Chicago. My son is deathly allergic to sunflower and we asked the waiter if his dish would have any sunflower products in it. Without checking with the chef, the waiter told us not to eat there again. That tip went on my foursquare account. Thanks, jerk!

  2. I remember reading about a vegan couple who liked fine dining and would write ahead to places to see if they could be accommodated and they generally were even at Gordon Ramsay’s. I think a lot of posturing goes on, but at the end of the day restaurants are there to make money and don’t want to turn business away. Having said that, in trying to track that article/comment down I came across a review of a pub in Oxfordshire where a veggie complained on Trip Advisor that there was no vegetarian option for Sunday lunch. The owner replied that there was a parmesan risotto on that day. *eyeroll*

    • Meh! Risotto is rapidly becoming the cheese and tomato pizza, or the sun-dried tomato and goats cheese pasta of its day. I suspect there’s a lot of willy-waving goes on, but I do object to celebrity chefs bad-mouthing veggie food on TV.

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