They say you have 6.5 seconds to make a first impression, I’d say less when it comes to judging whether or not the person you’re talking to can accommodate your gluten free diet. For me, the conversation usually goes something like this: “I have celiac disease, is there anything on your menu that’s gluten free?” and I often receive the following response “No, we don’t give away anything for free, apart from the bread” (head held in hands in despair).
Wheeler’s of St James’ – London
So I guess you could say that I’m used to doing a lot of explaining, but this was not the case at Wheeler’s. And honestly, I’ve never been so impressed. It was a spur of the moment decision (naughty I know) and we’d decided to go for brunch, no reservations, no allergy explanations, nothing. As we arrived I explained to the Manager that I had celiac, he assured me that this would not be a problem and directed us to our seats.
Now this is where it gets exciting. Usually you have to inform several different people, several times about your allergy and I didn’t have to do this once. Despite the restaurant being at full capacity, the message was relayed to all the wait staff and chefs before we even had time to look at the menu. In all my years with celiac and in all the countries I’ve dined, I’ve never experienced this level of hospitality.
And the hospitality didn’t stop there; everyone was extremely friendly and always made time to talk to you, even when they were rushed off their feet. For people with celiac (or any other allergies for that matter), I think we can all agree that this is a sure sign of a restaurant that will do everything they can to ensure that the food they are preparing for you is completely safe.
So now to the food. The quality of food was truly amazing and the gluten free choices were endless. The vast majority of options on the menu were naturally gluten free and from my previous experiences I’ve found that menu options are usually limited, with a few choices at best. But I was spoilt for choice!
My favourite dish? Now that’s a tough one. If I had to choose I would say either the fish pie or the organic salmon. Or the mushroom risotto! They were all beautifully cooked. And if you’re not gluten free then the fish & chips are supposed to be amazing (quite a bold statement coming from someone whose family used to own a fish & chip shop). Dessert wise, they serve a beautiful crème brûlée. But it’s not your standard brûlée, rather a chocolate version. This was the first time that I’d tried such a concoction and I’m hooked.
Honestly speaking, I couldn’t fault a thing. The food was amazing, as was the atmosphere. The staff were all extremely attentive and they take your allergies seriously. They even use sustainably farmed fish, an added bonus for the organic lovers amongst us. So I guess what I’m saying is there’s something for everyone at Wheeler’s, gluten free or not.
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