Indigo & the Pathfinder Award
Last October the freefrom social media scene got very excited. Indigo, the restaurant at top Covent Garden Hotel One Aldwych, had announced that, when it had re-opened three months earlier after a major refurbishment of their kitchens, it had done so with an entirely gluten and dairy-free menu – but….. They not told anyone – and no one – neither their long established regular customers nor any new customers coming to try out the restaurant – had noticed!
As you might imagine, the free from world rushed to their phones to make a booking – and Indigo’s throughput shot up by 30%!
The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards team were not far behind and in February we took the whole team to Indigo for our post FreeFrom Food Awards judging dinner. And yes, it was just as good – and as freefrom – as it was cracked up to be. But what interested us was not how they had managed to achieve this (creating totally gluten and dairy free food is really not that difficult) – but why. So we sent awards director, Michelle Berriedale-Johnson to ask them…
You can watch Executive Chef Dominic Teague, whose brainchild this was, tell us himself in the video below – but essentially it was was inspired by customer demand.
Dominic was so excited by his new kitchen that he wanted to exploit it to its full. They had been asked so often for either gluten or dairy free food that the idea of creating nothing else was exactly the kind of challenge that he was looking for. So he did it!
However, Dominic was very aware that Indigo had a significant number of regular non-freefrom customers who might think this new menu was a bit of an aberration on the part of their favourite restaurant! He was also aware that although he was perfectly confident in what they were doing, some of his staff were slightly nervous – so he decided to stay mum for three months and just see what the reaction was amongst their guests.
And the reaction could not have been better. Not one single diner in the whole three months found anything ‘weird’ about the food – quite the contrary. They got nothing but compliments.
When ‘normal’ diners were told, as they were when they paid their bills, that they had just eaten a gluten and dairy free meal, they were amazed; meanwhile, genuinely gluten and dairy-free diners were over the moon. They could eat literally anything on the menu! Especially the fish and chips!!!!
We were so impressed with this story that we decided to go ahead with a project that we had been planning since last year – a extra FreeFrom Eating Out Award – a Pathfinder Award – for any one or any establishment that was really pushing the boundaries of freefrom and thinking outside that box. And we thought that for a top West End restaurant to go entirely gluten and dairy free was probably already up there. But to do so for three months and for not one single diner to realise that what they had eaten was entirely gluten and dairy free definitely deserved our award!
Visit Indigo with Michelle and see how not only Chef Dominic but the rest of the staff and the guests reacted to the new menu – and watch chef put together one of their signature dishes.
If you have any queries or would like to talk to us about the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards - please contact Michelle or call 020 7722 2866.
If you would like to go and try out Chef Dominic's food for yourself, you can book here on the Indigo website.