I have been a patron of Fresh for a long time. I have enjoyed many meals there and due to my husband’s reaction to gluten, we can no longer safely eat there. This happened once before, we thought we’d give them a second shot, but that’s been blown too.
It’s too bad. I won’t miss the low walls where other patrons can stare directly at each other, or the noise level that is similar to walking into a chicken coup, but I will miss freshly prepared vegetarian/vegan food.
This past Sunday Mat and I went to have dinner at the Fresh on Bloor and specifically mentioned to the waitress we required the gluten free menu. She was cheerful and kindly obliged. We had the Jerusalem bowl and apparently, when you remove any sauce that contains gluten, no safe substitution is made. The bowl was fairly bland and not that exciting. If I’m paying $12 for a bowl of rice I expect it to be impressive. We didn’t even feel like eating it and promptly left doggy bag in tow. Before we even made it down the street Mat began to experience pain. If you’ve ever had a reaction to gluten, apparently, it’s like small knives poking your intestine.
We’ve been to other restaurants which offer gluten free items and they really mean it – no cross contamination, no pain, no horrible experience.
I’m sorry to say this Fresh, but no amount of compensation will bring us back. This post is a warning to other people with gluten sensitivities to be careful. Even if you’re mildly sensitive and don’t experience a reaction, you don’t know what’s going on internally, so it’s hard to shrug something like this off.
Needless to say the doggy bag was dumped and an email was written to Fresh explaining the situation.
Here is the response:
I’m sorry to hear that your second attempt at a Fresh experience
proved yet again to be disappointing. We’d like to be able to offer
our customers the best in quality food and service, unfortunately that
wasn’t the case.
All our servers and staff are trained in how to handle customers with
allergies, more specifically in this case, gluten intolerances. Our
menu does offer a selection of gluten free options, however we can not
guarantee a cross contamination of ingredients from the kitchen in the
process of making the order. In spite of our best efforts, there is no
specific “gluten free” zone in our kitchen. This information is
clearly stated on our website, but not on our actual menu, which is
something we will change once our new menu is established. The server
should have known to relay this crucial bit of information to you, but
did not and for this I apologize.
We are looking into who your server was, but nevertheless have since
reminded all staff across locations of how to be more sensitive and
warn those customers with allergies of our procedures.
Of course we will refund you the $32, and in addition will send you a
Fresh gift card should you choose to visit us again some time.
Thank you for your feedback.
All the best to you and your husband.
Area Manager, Fresh Restaurants”
I appreciate the response and it is a nice gesture of them to give me a refund. Thank you Fresh.
On the gluten free menu, we noted the tempeh, sweet and regular potato fries are fried in the same oil that contains gluten – why say the item is gluten free? I expected more from a restaurant that appears to understand different eating requirements (vegetarian/vegan/gluten free).
It’s too bad. Sayonara Fresh.