The Soho Hotel – Refuel Restaurant – not so-ho great

Soho Hotel - top candle holder

Soho Hotel – top candle holder

Refuel Restaurant, The Soho Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, London


Now this is the hotel that does a gluten-free/dairy-free afternoon tea so brilliant all superlatives seem pale and insufficient.  I wanted to love their a la carte restaurant as much too and treated my other half to a surprise dinner on Saturday.

I had roast duck breast with orange glazed carrots for starter and then pot-roasted chicken, butternut squash, bacon and chestnut mushrooms with hand-cut chips.  What can I say, it was a comfort-food night.  I had pre-informed them of my dietary requirements, told the maitre’d and the waiter on arrival too.  Whilst I don’t want a fuss I do want it clearly explained to me what I can have and this just didn’t happen.  When I asked  if I could have these dishes the waiter said he would check with the chef and I made a specific comment about the chip oil.  He never returned, so I assumed all was well and then the food arrived.

Starter and main.  Try to imagine the embarrassing flash in the pitch-dark restaurant.

Starter and main. Just try to imagine the embarrassing flash in the pitch-dark restaurant.

The duck was succulent if a little tough to cut and the chicken stock was delicious with the main.  However, it may have helped if I’d been able to see what I was eating.  Whilst I appreciate the bar is right next to the restaurant and requires a certain dark mood (this is Soho after all), I like to have a clear idea of what is on my knife and fork.

All was continuing to go well, though I did feel a little underwhelmed by the food, especially given the prices.  It took an hour to receive our bill and it was then that I started to get a stomach ache.  Great.  Didn’t think much of it.  Then the spasms started to get worse and I was wracking my brains thinking if I had eaten anything possibly gluten- or dairy-contaminated the day before/earlier in the day because I still had total faith this kitchen knew exactly what it was doing.

In less spasmodic times

In less spasmodic times

At this point I was in so much pain I just had to leave.  I still had to get the tube and train home and felt sick and shaky with huge stomach cramps.  Obviously I have eaten things accidentally in my time that contain wheat or gluten or cow’s milk so I know the symptoms, but I just didn’t want it to be this dinner.  I couldn’t even speak on the journey home, I was just concentrating on not vomiting (on those late trains known as the vomit comets, how apt).  My other half was so livid he complained straightaway.

Now I don’t know how hard it is going to be trying to work out what it was.  I’m thinking perhaps the frying oil for the chips or the chicken (at one point I think I was eating stuffing, but I might as well have been blindfolded in that darkness so who knows).

I don’t mean to take this out solely on the Soho Hotel who, I am sure, are a good restaurant overall; I am just so tired of feeling like it is such a big deal to want to know what is in my food.  I want to have relaxed and fun eating experiences with my partner, friends and family. Is it really that hard?  What would happen if a piece of bacon worked its way into a vegetarian meal, hmm?

Additionally, the offer for my dessert?  A FRUIT PLATTER. Now if it’s summer and you’re outside and you fancy a healthy snack perhaps this is acceptable.  When you know this very same kitchen produces beautiful gf and df scones, flapjacks, choc honeycomb, pavlova etc, it’s a sad-face-inducing disappointment.  So if I didn’t get the message across enough, don’t ever offer me a fruit platter, that ain’t no sweet treat 😉

So all started well, but did not end so-ho well.  I’m off to get my heatpad and cleanse my system with lots of fresh veg and ‘clean’ food today.  Updates to come!


3 responses to “The Soho Hotel – Refuel Restaurant – not so-ho great

  1. Pingback: Does gluten-ous oil make you ill? | Gluten-free Fiend·

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