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Lancaster Smokehouse: Baked beans not GF

I’m a big fan of Hogtails and it’s big brother, the Lancaster Smokehouse.

I’ve written about the menu at Hogtails before, and many things are gluten free.  However, I recently found out that the baked beans are not gluten free at Lancaster Smokehouse.  They use beer in the recipe, and unfortunately it’s not GF-beer.

I haven’t been to Hogtails in a while (since the Lanc is much closer to me), so I’m not sure if the baked beans at Hogtails are still gluten-free.  Anyone know?

It brings up a good reminder to us all – always ask the chef about what’s in the food. Recipes change, staff changes, and some chefs make things different depending on the ingredients available.


Taco Farm – Best restaurant for Celiacs!

If I had to pick the best restaurant in Waterloo for Celiacs, hands down it would be Taco Farm.

Everything on the menu (besides the dessert Churros) is gluten free. Yes, you read that correctly – everything.

Fried fish tacos? Gluten free. Fried chicken? Gluten free.

I mention the fried stuff first because, well…let’s face it: as Celiacs we rarely get fried anything, let alone battered fried chicken or fish. And it is divine!

But all the healthier options are gluten free too, including all the tacos (100% corn flour, made on site), all the toppings, all the sauces, and all the appetizers.

It really is the perfect restaurant to Celiacs. Here’s to hoping more restaurants will follow Taco Farm’s lead.

Go there. Now. You won’t regret it!

Take out from Lai Lai’s Chinese Restaurant

I’ve written about Lai Lai’s in Kitchener before, as our company had a Christmas party there one year and they catered very well to my gluten-free diet.

But how about if you are ordering take-out? What can you order?

I ordered recently from them and thought I’d share my findings:

  • Singapore Noodles are indeed gluten-free.
  • Chicken with Black Bean Sauce without soy sauce is also gluten-free. Note you should probably order steamed rice with this dish.
  • Unfortunately the curry chicken dish does have wheat (something I have had gluten-free at other restaurants).

Have you had any dishes at other Kitchener-Waterloo Chinese restaurants that were gluten-free? Feel free to leave a comment.

The Works in Waterloo

If you’re looking for the best gluten-free burger in town, look no further than The Works on King Street in Uptown Waterloo.

The burger patties are gluten-free, and you can order a gluten-free bun for only $1 extra. (Note: the bun will likely fall apart on you since the burger is so large – knife and fork recommended for backup!)

The fries are also gluten-free, but are cooked in the same oil as other fried products.

Mozy’s Shawarma in Waterloo

Mozy’s Shawarma in Waterloo is such a great place to eat for Celiacs. Their chicken shawarma salad or shawarma plate (without the pita) is gluten free.

And most importantly, their fries are GF and cooked in their own fryer! Delicious!

Check it out. It’s on University at King, across from Wilfred Laurier.

Thai Bistro in Belmont Village

A few days ago I visited Thai Bistro in Belmont Village. As I tweeted (http://twitter.com/safeceliac), there are a few options that are gluten free including the Singapore Noodles, all the curries, the Pho soup, and a variety of other soups.

Unfortunately the pad thai is not gluten free though.

I ordered a few dishes, including a red curry (chicken), singapore noodles, and mango salad. The red curry was quite good, with a good amount of spice too it and lots of vegetables. The singapore noodles were just ‘ok’ – not a lot of flavour and the noodles were a bit too al dente for my liking. Pouring some of the red curry sauce on them really kicked up the flavour though.

The mango salad was delicious, and the 2 slushees we ordered were a nice treat.

The restaurant is small and run by two people (perhaps husband and wife, though I’m not certain). This is quite nice because the woman that took my order also made the food! If anyone would know if there was wheat or soya sauce in the dishes I was asking about, it’d be her. At big chain restaurants, you are sometimes left guessing by the wait staff.

Next time I’ll be trying the Pho soup!

All in all, I would highly recommend Thai Bistro. Have you been there? What did you think?

Update (April 30, 2011): The sweet & sour chicken (#39) and spicy Thai coconut sauce with shrimp (#40) are also gluten free. Note: their menu is changing next week. Stay tuned…

Whispers in Elora

Last night my wife and I went to Whispers in Elora.  I have heard various things about Whispers – organic ingredients, an interesting chef, and clearly marked gluten free options – so I thought I’d give it a try.

I should say, that up front I was a bit skeptical.  If you don’t know, Whispers is a vegetarian restaurant, and in the words of chef Anthony Bourdain “To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”

Ok, perhaps that’s a little over the top.  I could get through a dinner without meat if I just put my mind to it.

Joking aside, my first reaction wasn’t as I expected it to be.  The decor was 80′s and it felt like an upscale Swiss Chalet.  There was an elderly musician performing some old Irish folk tunes.  (Come to think of it, maybe hiring him was an April Fools joke?  It was not a good match, and I’m a big fan of all types of live music.)

Anyway, to the food.  I was really impressed at their menu.  The whole menu was clearly marked with GF, LF, V, and LS indicating gluten free, lactose free, vegan and low sodium dishes.  This is really quite a blessing for Celiacs visiting restaurants.  I knew exactly what I could have, but informed my server nonetheless.

I started off with the beet and cucumber salad.  It really wasn’t much to write home about: lettuce, beets and cucumber with some balsamic reduction.  For dinner I had the chili on rice, and the sweet potato fries on the side.  The chili was ok, but really not a lot of flavour.  The best thing I ate all night were the potato fries – served hot right out of the frier.  Mmm.

My wife (a non-Celiac) had the pear & gorgonzola salad to start, and spinach ravioli as the main course.  Like my meal, hers was just ‘ok’ as well.  For dessert, we split their take on apple crumble.  It’s made with nuts instead of oats and it really needed more apples, sugar, butter…or all three.  If you’re going to have dessert, make it worth it!

Overall, although we both appreciated the fact that these were organic ingredients, we honestly felt like we could make better food at home.  The food just didn’t “wow” us and nothing really stood out as really wonderful.

Although I won’t be going back anytime soon, I wish them all the best.  Having a menu with clearly marked options is something all restaurants should have, and this was truly appreciated.

And if you’re a vegetarian (especially a Celiac vegetarian), it’s definitely worth checking out.  The number of options for Celiacs (or people with other allergies) is quite nice.

Have you been to Whispers?  What did you think?

But this review is about the food, so

Hogtails BBQ – Best BBQ in the city

Well, I finally made it out to Hogtails BBQ in North Waterloo.  Well, let’s be honest…I’ve been there 3 times in two weeks.

Yes, it’s my new favourite restaurant in town.

Firstly: one of the staff members is a Celiac, and all three times I ordered she was working and knew exactly what I could eat.  Ask for her if you are concerned!

But there are so many items on the menu that are gluten free.  Almost all the meats are (I tried the ribs, chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork), and many of the sides are.  The french fries and sweet potato fries are gluten free but are cooked in the same fryer as other fried products.  Bummer.  But there are many other options.  The sides that are gluten free are:

  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Coleslaw
  • Baked Beans (Update 2014: These are not GF at Lancaster Smokehouse.  Uncertain if they are GF at Hogtails anymore.)
  • Vegetables
  • Potato Salad

I can’t remember if the Grits and Collard Greens are gluten free – I think so but I’d ask to make sure.  You get two of them with most meals, and if you ask for no cornbread you can get a small 3rd side for free.

Overall the food was incredible.  The meat is delicious and the BBQ sauce is just perfect.  All the sides I tried were really tasty.  Note: you get a LOT of food, so prepare your appetite or prepare for left overs.

Highly recommended – check it out if you haven’t already!

Note: it is highly encouraged to order in advance and take the food out with you.  The restaurant itself is quite small and you’d probably have to wait a while to get a table.


Spring Rolls in Waterloo

Today I visited Spring Rolls at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and thought I’d give a quick update for Celiacs looking to visit this restaurant.

Overall I have to say I was impressed with our waitress when I asked about gluten free options. She obviously had dealt with Celiacs before and knew a lot about what I could have on the menu. For instance, at Asian restaurants I often order the Singapore Noodles because I know it’s rice vermicelli and usually doesn’t contain soya sauce. (Always good to check though!)  She did confirm it was gluten free; but since she was fairly knowledgable I thought I’d ask about other menu items to see if I could ‘stretch out’ and try something different.

So I inquired about some of the other rice noodle dishes and ended up with the “Ho Fun” in Szechuan Sauce (flat rice noodles in authentic Szechuan sauce).  The Szechuan sauce does contain soya sauce usually, but they can make it with mushroom sauce which is gluten free.  She said the dish tastes a little different, but I thought it was very good and couldn’t tell it was a custom order.  I’d definitely order it again.

My wife ordered the Pad Thai and I asked if it was gluten free (so we could share, naturally!).  She said it is “pretty much” gluten free, but she wanted to warn me that the Pad Thai rice noodles have a tiny amount of wheat in them.  She described it as 0.05%, and most people with gluten allergies don’t have a problem.  Although I wouldn’t recommend this to Celiacs (you can decide for yourself), the fact that she knew this and warned us was certainly pretty outstanding.

So generally, it was a great meal.  I usually don’t love the generic chain restaurants, and Asian restaurants that completely cater to the North American palette wouldn’t be my first choice.  However, there are benefits to this kind of establishment – tried and true menu items and trained staff that know about allergies and can communicate the information well.

Have you been to Spring Rolls?  What did you order?  Any other items that are gluten-free?

Happy eating.