Four Meals at Thon Hotel Vettre
The weekend before this last one I was at a conference. It was held at Thon Hotel Vettre. So then, it would be another hotel-weekend with all inclusive. As usual, my list with all the necessary dietary information was sent in beforehand. Such as to allow for the kitchen to be aptly ready for my arrival and equipped with knowledge of how to handle a guest with FODMAP-intolerence. I received confirmation that the list had arrived by the kitchen early friday morning. Therefore, I expected there to be no trouble.
The First Lunch
The arrival was on Saturday, before noon. Thus the first meal was lunch. I was eminently struck by the lack of allergy-labeling of the food. To at least give labeling of common intolerance sources as gluten and lactose is very common at buffets in Norway. And at a hotel of this standard with several hundreds of guests it should be a certainty. With so many guests you are all but guaranteed that some have either one or both of these intolerance. And, even more incredible, my list is where clear that I must eat a gluten-free diet. Surely they should have been able to ad two and two together. There was a note by the reception to give notice in case of food allergies. However, I had emailed them two days before arriving. Far as I am concerned they had been notified, in writing!
Anyway, the lack of labels meant I had to inquire from a chef about absolutely everything. In that chaos of hungry politicians attempting to get an overview of both food and seating simultaneously, that was not an easy task. When finally I found a chef he did know about my list, but was unwilling to go look for it. However, he had prepared the cold dishes and thus explained to me the ingredients of each that was of interest and possibility to me. And thus I had food to safely land on my plate. There was scrambled eggs, (lactose-free, with lemon juice), shrimps in dill and mayo, smoked salmon, sashimi, pickled ginger, mayo end a good dose of shrimps.
The food was quite alright. The scrambled eggs exceeded my expectations. It’s the first time I have been served it made in this manner, but it would benefit from the addition of a herb. The remaining foods laying on my plate were primarily store bought. No culinary surprises there. The sashimi was rather disappointing. Firstly, it was only salmon. Secondly, the pieces were not very nicely cut, they fell apart making the journey from buffet to plate. And, the usual items accompanying sashimi were lacking. There was pickled ginger and what must have been wasabi, but no soy sauce, and worse; no rice! Also, there were very few other items on the buffets that would accompany sashimi nicely in flavor. It was mis-matched and an unfortunate attempt of adding an Asian touch to the menu at best. So, even if they may claim otherwise, there is no sushi at Thon hotel Vettre.
When Dessert Comes to the Rescue
I was not satisfied. And thus made the trip to the desert table. And there, behold my rescue; Chocolate Mousse! And in those cute tiny hand size glasses. They became the standard finishing touch of my every meal thereafter. (Over the course of three meals I hate as many as 6) Am I somewhat gluttonous? Yes, in the way of chocolate. And in a purely principally manner; when at a hotel every meal shall be concluded by desert. But still, to have to double it simply to get says nothing positive of the main course.
A (for me) Pitiful Christmas Buffet at Thon Hotel Vettre
And then there was dinner. With the most standard Norwegian Christmas meals there is. They were all present; non smoked sausages, meat balls, pinnekjøtt, root vegetable mush, lutefisk with all it’s accessories, and. the same cold selection as for lunch. Then again I had to inquire about what I could eat.
It turned out the chefs present did not master Norwegian, and the conversation thus converted to English. Usually English is no issue for me, but when it is the insecure highly accented kind where I am doubtful if the other person knows and uses all the words correctly, then it is experienced as a risk-factor. With some pidgin-language and a fine mix of Norwegian and English I finally had an overview of the meal’s contents. The non smoked meat sausages and meat balls were from Gilde. Thus they were not an option. There was caraway in the root vegetable mush, so again, not an option. All the sauces had gluten, so the meal would be a dry one again. Potatoes, a piece of ribs, and… cold food. The ribs were not particularly savory either. Either way, dinner ought to be a warm meal, not a repetition of lunch. It was sadly obvious that the kitchen had not taken any consideration for me or my list during cooking. When I mentioned my list all the kitchen staff seemed to have heard of one. It just had not resulted in any active measures. My frustration must have been painted on my face by the time one of the chefs offered to prepare something for me. He finally found my list from the kitchen. I was amazed to see it full of pink markings. So someone there had known of my needs, and apparently done nothing. Anyway, I now felt hope and sat down with what little was on my plate and waited patiently for what would come. Some seven or eight minutes later this pot landed next to me. Root parsley, carrots and red beats with parsley. Far more than I could eat. And rather tasteful too. It did not however, rescue a dry meal. And I managed to get nearly full before I had gone tired of root parsley.
There was kransekake at the desert table. For me a safe choice. Like so many other things it was straight from the nearest grocery store. At a conference hotel with a large kitchen you would expect the majority of the food to be created on the house, that was not the case at Thon Hotel Vettre. I scavenged the last two bits. Had one bite and then left to get myself a cup of tea. The selection of teas the hotel deserves praise for. It was large, and contained both bagged and lose weight types. And lovely large tea cups. When I returned to my seat my plate with kransekake had vanished. The waiters were sometimes a bit too efficient in their labor. My immediate sentiment was frustration, the very two last bits, and gone. Fortunately, when I asked the chef he managed to find me another cake. So I took the party cracker decorating the cake as a little prize.
Breakfast and new Sweets
The next meal was breakfast. And again, the same cold food bufét. By now I had gone tired of it. For my company of non-diet inhibitions that was of course not an issue. But for me it was the same select few things to eat as ever before. And also, like at every other meal; there were people complaining they had failed to find the bread. There was a separate table for bread. It just seemed a little out of place, away from the other food stations. And people simply failed to find it.
And then the dessert. As mentioned, compulsory for any hotel meal. The dearest chocolate mousse was nowhere to be found. In stead, there were smoothies and yoghurt. The chef standing nearby had no knowledge of their contents and had to fetch the one who had prepared them. The yoghurt turned out to be a safe choice. It was a fresh, delicious home made yoghurt with forest berries in the bottom. Delightful.
Conclusion for Thon Hotel Vettre
The last lunch was so alike the first it is hardly worth the mention. So what is the conclusion? At Thon Hotel Vettre they have a large kitchen and a kind staff. But these resources are not fully utilized. Large parts of the menu was straight from the nearest grocery store. Call me picky if you would like, but at a hotel I do not was to eat food identical to that at home. The dishes the kitchen had prepared were overall of an acceptable quality, and the sweet dishes were the best. I was far from alone in my disappointment of the ribs. In a pure culinary measure the hotel did not meet my expectations. Larger variety and more kitchen made dishes would do much to improve that impression.
The staff were generally nice and attempted to aid me with my questions and needs. Though, not to the fullest of their abilities. It is clear that Thon Hotel Vettre completely lacks routines to care for a guest with food intolerance. My list had resulted in no preparations at all. The staff was uncertain about the contents of any dish they had not themselves made. Language challenges oftentimes made it even harder. With the exception of that one chef who cooked some vegetables for me at dinner there was a complete lack of initiative from the kitchen staff. My dismay was evident from the first meal, and still resulted in no improvements over the duration of my stay. And I did not feel entirely safe that the chefs had told me about all the ingredients of the food at all times. For me, this was not an enjoyable stay in the ways of food. Misunderstood sashimi and scrambled eggs is not something to be stuck with over so many meals.
Thon Hotel Vettre can unfortunately not be recommended for anyone suffering from food intolerance or allergies. You are not taken properly care of here, even if the hotel is informed beforehand.