Two months ago, my son and I, who own our own Racehorses, booked a day out at Newmarket races in the Hospitality Suite, which included lunch and afternoon tea in the Summerhouse Restaurant. The Package looked very nice, which is some ways it was, but in others it was an absolute mess. Two months before we were due to go, we were asked if we had any food allergies and we said we did. I’m allergic to coffee and my son has a very bad allergy to anything with nuts in. Now you would think that people would think that they would take this seriously. Exactly, that’s what we thought until we got there.
We arrived in the Summerhouse Restaurant and were shown to the table, which was ours for the day. It was supposed to start with a Champagne Reception which turned out to be one glass of Champagne at your table. Fair enough. People did wear masks, others didn’t. Again, fair enough. Then there was the matter of ordering drinks. I asked for a Brandy and Ginger. I was expecting a Brandy and a small bottle of Ginger Ale. No. What I got was a Brandy, and a glass of Ginger Ale in another glass, complete with ice, but this Ginger Ale was cloudy, and more like Ginger Beer. It’s the way the ordering machine reads things we were told. The starter was very nice and our main course. The pudding did leave a bit to be desired. One of those lemon things that was so sharp it left you cross eyed after every monthful. Being lunch, you were in and out a lot for the races. Once again fair enough and it was a bit scrappy. Did you want to wait for this and that. Then came the Cheese Board. A nice selection of Cheeses, chutney, celery……….complete with NUTS. Having been told that my son had a nut allergy. My son though isn’t like me. He isn’t one to make a fuss and dealt with it brilliantly by making sure that what he ate was well out of reach of any nuts.
On to Afternoon Tea and this is where it went just one step to far. Up came some finger sandwiches, a couple of scones and what should have been cakes. This is when Mother here decided that enough was enough and Newmarket were going to be shown the error of their ways when it came to a dangerous food allergy. I got a couple of tiny little meringues you could hardly see and this little piece of miniature chocolate Swiss Roll. Up came a Waitress, plonked, and I use the word plonked, down a bowl of strawberries, in front of my Son, not a sign of cream to make them special, and said ‘There are no substitute for Cakes without nuts so we’ve given you Strawberries” and off she went.
Now nobody is going to get away with that excuse when I’ve paid well into three figures for a day in the Hospitality Suite for this day.
“Bring the Manager and do not tell me that my Son is to be given a bowl of Strawberries because you cannot be bothered to find him some cakes”.
Yes, I admit I am feisty but I will stand my ground when I need to because these people had known about his allergy for two months and all they can come up with was strawberries that they had cut up.
Not a chance !!!
“I’m sorry” says the Manager looking like a crocodile ready to strike. “There just isn’t a substitute. Nothing we can do about it”
“You can bring him an extra scone” I smile “We can’t” she insists
“You do realise that you knew about my son’s allergy two months ago and that his allergy can kill if someone makes a mistake when they have been informed”
Still insisting there’s nothing they can do, they must have checked to see if we were just trouble makers and found our request for nut free food had been registered and she had to apologise. And just to make her day even worse the Chef had to make him his own little batch of warm chocolate brownies.
I’m not putting this up as a Yes we got one over Newmarket Races post. I’m furious because we told them two months earlier about my son’s allergy and they didn’t even bother and had the cheek to pass him off with a bowl of strawberries. Not even would you like some cream, to make him feel a bit special.
It did make me wonder though if some places really take Food Allergies seriously? It was an attitude of well, we’ve got nothing he can have, so what? Just one of those things. Well, it embarassed him because people were looking at him, and are we really becoming a Society with all these so called Chefs of ours that we can’t come up with something suitable.
Years ago I was told I was Gluten Free before I was Diagnosed with Diverticulitus. I was taken for Afternoon Tea at a large hotel in Eastbourne. When I asked for a Gluten Free Tea you would have thought I’d landed from Mars. There is no Substitute for a Sausage Roll the Dining Room Manager said. So have an Eton Mess instead.
So maybe places like Newmarket Races will stop buying in bulk food, and actually start to think about people who do suffer from serious Food Allergies and not make them feel uncomfortable when they should be made to feel welcome.