This past weekend, I surprised hubby with a weekend away for his *shh* big birthday. We went to stay at Chesford Grange in Warwickshire - a hotel in the Q Hotels chain. There were many fantastic aspects to our stay - the gorgeous spacious suite I booked, the lovely view from our room, the reception staff who were chatty and helpful, and exuded brilliant customer service. and the chance to swim in the pool (even though the hen party did hog the heated sun loungers!) Whilst we had a fantastic time, I must say that as a foodie and food blogger, I was spectacularly underwhelmed by the food on offer, specifically the Vegetarian food on offer.
Dinner was included for one night during our stay, and so we booked a table. The restaurant didn't open until 7pm - which was a sore point for our tired four year old. She was starving by 7pm, and by the time her main arrived, she ended up not eating it as she was exhausted - the seven year old also struggled due to tiredness. Opening a little earlier would have been nice as 7pm is quite late - especially as the service was really lacking, despite it not being busy, and our mains didn't arrive until at least 8pm. The service in the restaurant wasn't great at our evening meal or during breakfast times.
For me, the "Vegetarian" Menu was a big disappointment, specifically because many of the dishes on offer which were labelled as "Vegetarian" actually contained fish - which is definitely not something that Vegetarians eat. Pescetarians eat fish, Vegetarians don't. I don't know why dishes were labelled Vegetarian which so obviously were not. I did point this out, and I have seen it pointed out in other reviews of the restaurant, but the staff didn't seem too fussed.
According to the FSA, which issued guidelines in 2006:
The term ‘vegetarian’ should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from or with the aid of products derived from animals that have died, have been slaughtered, or animals that die as a result of being eaten. Animals means farmed, wild or domestic animals, including for example, livestock poultry, game, fish, shellfish, crustacea, amphibians, tunicates, echinoderms, molluscs and insects.
From Veg Society Website
It was really confusing trying to choose a meal which was fully vegetarian amongst the ones which were not. The two choices for main course which actually turned out to be Vegetarian were really underwhelming. There was that insanely inane, uninspired old chestnut that every bad Chef puts on the menu for vegetarians to eat - "Risotto". Regular readers of my blog will know how I feel about risotto - the poor cousin of meat and fish options. There was also the Wild mushroom, garlic and tarragon pastini, which I opted for, and which basically turned out to be just lukewarm, tasteless slop. Compared to the other meat and fish options on the menu which looked and smelt amazing as they came out, I was really disappointed. Hubby's Duck with noodles looked fantastic and even the kids menu was more exciting!
Having looked at other hotels in the Q Hotel chain, it seems that the menu is different at each establishment, and there looked to be some great Vegetarian dishes on offer at other hotels. I can only guess that the team at Chesford Grange haven't quite got their heads around how to actually produce a Vegetarian menu, which is a shame as it put a dampner on what was otherwise a fantastic weekend break away. It would be good if they rectified the mistakes on their restaurant menu asap as it is really confusing and misleading for Vegetarian diners, and I'm pretty sure it probably doesn't meet FSA guidelines.