SafeCeliac is shutting down

I started SafeCeliac over 10 years ago, with a mission to share information about restaurants that really catered to a gluten-free diet. Back in 2007, it was hard to find restaurants that a Celiac could eat at, and most of my findings were from word-of-mouth recommendations or experimentation of my own.

So much has changed since then – I now have a wonderful young family (and a whole lot less time), we have many more restaurants that are catering to Celiacs (yeah!), and also many more ways to share information (such as Facebook and Twitter).

I’ve finally admitted to myself that I really haven’t been able to focus on this blog. And after a few hackers got into the blog (p.s. always keep your WordPress installation updated), I’ve decided it’s just best if I close the blog once and for all.

Thanks for the many comments and readers out there who shared tips of their own on SafeCeliac.

I’ll continue to share tips on Twitter (www.twitter.com/safeceliac) when I find restaurants that are great for Celiacs.

p.s. If anyone is interested in the safeceliac.com and safeceliac.ca domain, I’d be happy to transfer it to you if your intent is for helping folks with Celiac disease.

Safe eating!

Marbles – A New Menu

I hadn’t been to Marbles in a long time. But apparently their ownership changed, and I had heard they had a new menu.

The menu is really short, but this is really a good thing. But the best news is that their fryer is completely gluten free. 

On my first visit, I had a hamburger (with gluten free bun!), and really great French fries. It was a very good meal.

A few days later, I returned and had the fish and chips. Yes indeed, the fish is completely gluten free (breaded in a corn flour mix, and deep fried in the gluten free fryer). I haven’t had fish and chips since in 15 years (since before being diagnosed as a Celiac), and it was truly a fantastic meal. My only regret: I should have ordered two pieces of fish, not one!

All in all, Marbles is definitely worth a visit. The gluten free fryer is such an amazing treat for us Celiacs.

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!
http://tacofarm.ca/

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.

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