Hubby took my parents and I to Fischers at Baslow Hall for a posh lunch for my birthday last week. We had planned it a while back, having been to the same restaurant once before I was diagnosed. We used to really enjoy eating out and trying the swanky tasting menus and with the coeliac diagnosis, we figured this would be off the cards, but having become more confident recently, we thought we’d give it a try. On the phone we explained that my mother and I are coeliac and Fischers assured us that they could cater gluten free and that as everything was home cooked, most of the dishes could be adapted. So far so good.
Fischers has had a Michelin star since 1994, so we expected the food to be top notch and we weren’t disappointed with the menu. We opted for the 8 course tasting menu, which is £60 per person, (or £100 per person if you have wine with every course, which we didn’t).
The food was fabulous, as you would expect, both to look at and to eat. I love the many different flavours and textures that you encounter in this sort of dining, and trying food you wouldn’t normally order. We started with a smoked haddock and whiskey chowder, which came in a wonderful glazed antique looking metal goblet. Happily, they had made us some very good gluten free bread with pumpkin seeds on. We tried slow poached egg with salt beef and a cheddar foam, and there were a couple of fish courses: brill with champagne and oyster sauce, and bream with radicchio risotto. The main was duck with Yorkshire rhubarb.
We were all blown away by the final course, which was a 3d tree trunk with actual branches, crafted from chocolate, with mint and lime. It looked and tasted exquisite. I would love to show you a picture, but I know it’s not the done thing to take loads of photos in these sorts of restaurants, and I wouldn’t want to spoil things for other diners by showing a photo of every course.
The only picture I’m using (because it wouldn’t be a great review without any pictures!) is of the very pretty palate cleanser, yoghurt with pineapple and pink peppercorn meringues, which was refreshing and zingy.
So, it all sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well it was pretty darned good until one of the courses (hay baked quail) arrived with a sprinkling of what looked like puffed rice or barley. Luckily, I noticed this before I started eating this course and asked the maitre d’ what it was. He explained that it was barley, which is ok for me as it does not contain gluten!! When I assured him that it did, he went on to explain that the website they use as a resource said that barley did not contain gluten and therefore would be safe to eat!
I was quite shocked about this, particularly in a Michelin starred restaurant. Of course, with me being uncomfortable about eating it, the maitre d’ was quite happy to take our plates away and replace them with freshly prepared plates of food without the barley. But what if I hadn’t noticed it? It wouldn’t have been a great end to my birthday, put it that way!
Thankfully, the rest of the meal was fine, and I have since been in touch with the owner by email and directed them to Coeliac UK for better information on gluten free cooking. Fischers were suitably apologetic and assured me that they would be more diligent in future. But it just goes to show that you can’t take for granted that people know how to cook gluten free food, even at this level of cooking.
Watch out people. There are plenty of misinformed chefs out there.