Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gluten-free pizza delivery

After just posting about Wendy's and fast food, I should mention this: on my drive home, I saw a pizza delivery car in front of me that said "Gluten-free pizza delivery".

Seriously? That would be incredible!

Unfortunately I missed the name or phone number.

There once was a small pizza chain in KW that delivered gluten-free pizzas, but they went under a few years ago. This was definitely a different car, so my question is: does anyone have any information about this? I'd love to have a gluten-free pizza delivered to me again.

I also heard a rumor from a friend (a non-Celiac), saying that he thought he saw a sign about gluten-free pizzas in the plaza on Ottawa Street across from Montana's restaurant. I haven't actually checked it out myself though.

If you know anything about restaurants serving gluten-free pizza in KW, please leave a comment - I'd love to know about them!

In the mean time, I'll have to do a little research myself.

Wendy's new "Menu Items Without Gluten" guide

Today I discovered that Wendy's has a new "Menu Items Without Gluten Guide", released in December 2007. Was I ever surprised to see this on their website:

I've eaten at Wendy's plenty of times in the past, and their nutrition guide was decent. (You could look at all the individual ingredients, and determine what was gluten-free - manually.)

But this just seems like a new "ray of light" for Celiacs. A guide specifically targeted towards eating gluten-free is something I wish all restaurants would have. So kudos to Wendys!

I actually somewhat wonder if a Celiac created the guide. Or they've just really done their research. They even have little symbols beside some of the menu items, indicating that a given item contains maltodextrin. That's interesting because currently maltodextrin for Celiacs is allowed, though even only a few years ago it was questionable. (The production of maltodextrin in Canada is apparently corn or tapioca based in 99% of the cases. Personally I like to see "corn maltodextrin", but this is not required by Canadian labels.)

So the special maltodextrin symbol is probably someone being very thorough and ensuring you (as a Celiac) are comfortable with it.

Check out the guide for yourself on Wendy's website:

Finally, interestingly enough their burger patties are indeed gluten-free. Their old guide specified the burgers had gluten, but I was never sure if the reasoning was the bun. So, today I had my first Wendy's burger in a long time, without the bun. I enjoyed it, but perhaps it's not for everyone:

Yeah, this Big Bacon Classic looks nasty but was actually was tasty. Maybe it's because I haven't had a Wendy's hamburger in ages. Next time...bring on the 3/4 pounder with three patties! (ok, my stomach can handle it, but probably not the rest of my body. Well, that's probably not stomach could barely handle the above, even if it was gluten-free.)

More fast food another day! (maybe)

Village Creperie

The Village Creperie is a new restaurant in Kitchener's Belmont Village. I learned about it through a review in The Record, and my wife called them asking about gluten-free options. She really wanted to try it, but didn't expect much for a Celiac.

Was she (and I) ever shocked to hear how much they knew about Celiac disease...and that just about all of their dinner crepes are made with buckwheat flour. Although the name might be misleading, buckwheat flour is in fact gluten-free and is part of the rhubarb family. Even on the phone, the staff member knew exactly what Celiac disease was and could tell us what was available. They also suggested that if I'd like dessert, they could make up a rice-batter especially made for dessert crepes. You have to order this 24-hours in advance though - so call ahead.

So, we went for dinner last Saturday night and had a great time. Most of the appetizer crepes are not gluten-free, but I had a Greek salad and it was tasty. My dinner crepe was a chimichurri-chicken crepe, and was fresh and excellent. My wife ordered the Spanish pinto bean crepe, which also was good but I preferred the taste of the chimichurri-chicken. One of our friends had the salmon crepe which was also very good. (the wonderful thing was - I could sample them all because they were all gluten-free!)

Dessert was the best part though. Although we ordered the rice batter 24-hours in advance, they somehow lost the order. It didn't matter though - they made me a crepe using buckwheat flour and it was amazing nonetheless. (I had the organic banana, peanut butter, chocolate and honey crepe).

For a while there I almost forgot I was a Celiac. I could eat nearly everything on the menu, and all of it tasted great. Not to mention I was eating crepes - something I haven't done in years!

So, there you have it. Definitely a 5 out of 5.

Oh finally - this isn't a fast food crepe restaurant, it's more of a classic ('upscale') restaurant establishment. Our bill, including wine, two salads, two dinner crepes, and two dessert crepes was $75. Definitely not bad considering what you get.

Here's their website:

If you know of any other restaurants suitable for Celiacs in the KW area, feel free to leave a comment!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I've always found Yukikos in Waterloo a reliable spot for Celiacs. Not only do they have good food, but great desserts - many of which are gluten free.

A couple of weeks ago I visited Yukikos for lunch. I ordered beef tacos, and an outstanding squash soup. Although soups are often tricky at restaurants (mostly because of gluten in the chicken stock or thickeners they use), the server checked and the soup was indeed gluten-free. The tacos were made from corn and the ground beef was gluten-free as well.

I wish I had room for dessert. They had 3 desserts that were gluten free - two flourless cakes and a creme brulee (my favourite)! It's sometimes difficult to find one dessert option at a restaurant, let alone three.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Yukikos to other Celiacs. The food is always wonderful and the knowledge of the staff regarding eating gluten-free is definitely above average.

N2L 1J4

If you have another restaurant tip, feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kelsey's in Waterloo

I've written about Kelsey's before and how it didn't really cater well to Celiacs. Well, my wife had an inkling for nachos, so we decided to visit the King Street location in north Waterloo this evening for dinner.

I was actually pleasantly surprised! The waitress knew what gluten was, and checked up with the kitchen on a number of items on the menu for me.

We started with a huge plate of nachos - we had to have them without the ground beef because the seasonings they use are not gluten-free. Our waitress offered to replace the beef with grilled chicken, but we decided to just go without meat. The chips were indeed corn chips (she checked with the chef, and they only contained corn flour), and the toppings were just fresh tomatoes, lettuce, jalapenos, and cheese.

By the way, the plate of nachos is huge! Way too much for two of an appetizer.

The main courses are a bit of a challenge at Kelseys. Instead of opting for just a chicken salad like I have in the past, I decided on a sandwich...without the bun. It's a trick I've really come to depend on since many sandwiches are gluten-free once you take away the bread.

I ended up with a chicken club - chicken, bacon, melted cheddar and tomatoes and lettuce. The waitress checked up on it and it was indeed gluten-free. It was really tasty, though I suppose not very healthy. You can't eat like this every day - but if you're eating out, you might as well enjoy it, right?

The meal came with fries or a salad. The fries are cooked in the same fryer as other products containing gluten, so they were out. I opted for a house salad with just oil and vinegar dressing. It was decent - fairly fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded cheese.

The bottom line? A fairly decent meal at a restaurant I once deemed one of "KW's Worst Restaurants". ( I guess I stand corrected.

Been to Kelseys? What did you order? Any good tips? Feel free to share a comment!

Thursday, November 1, 2007 is here!

The SafeCeliac blog is now located at (or

If you have comments, or have thoughts about any restaurants in the Kitchener, Waterloo or Cambridge area, please feel free to leave them here. Just add a comment to this or any other blog post.

Hope to hear from you.

Rainbow Caribbean in Kitchener

One of my favourite restaurants in Kitchener-Waterloo is Rainbow Caribbean in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I initially got hooked on their food when they had a location in University Plaza, but that location has been shut down for a few years I have to trek to King & Queen St. to get this wonderful food.

I always get the curry chicken meal, which comes with rice & peas. I spoke to the manager about their ingredients, and he checked with the staff and ensured me that no gluten was used in the chicken curry.

I've been visiting this restaurant for at least 4 years, and have never tried any other dish because the curry is so good (and addictive)!

And it's a pretty fair deal too: the main dish, a plantain slice, and salad (I have oil & vinegar dressing) for well under $10. The meal is quite large and is great for either lunch or dinner.

If you haven't tried it, venture down there and give it a whirl. Oh yeah, and you have to try "The Best" brand of juices - the mixed fruit or mango juice is amazing. Basically it's just squeezed juice into a can. Sweet and wonderful.

St. Louis Bar and Grill

Last week I visited St. Louis Bar and Grill on Northfield Drive in Waterloo. (283 Northfield Drive, 519-883-4777). I was taking a little risk - eating typical pub food for a Celiac is tough - but it's always interesting to try new places and see what options are available. A little bit of a fact finding mission...

I'm happy to report that my experience was actually very positive. The waitress initially didn't know much about their ingredients cooking techniques, but I was impressed on how much research she did by talking to the kitchen staff.

I ended up having the ribs & wings combo. First the wings: they are not battered, but they are deep fried. However, they are deep fried in their own fryer, separate from battered food. Secondly, their sauces are fine too. I had the medium sauce, but I wouldn't presume all of them would be gluten-free though. (such as honey garlic?)

The ribs are also fine, and the waitress checked all of the ingredients in the BBQ sauce for me. She even came back and asked if "corn starch" was ok to have. Very impressive.

Finally, I couldn't have the fries because they were fried in the same fryer as gluten-products. Instead, it was replaced with a salad, which had a simple vinaigrette that was also ok.

Overall, I was impressed with the options available to me, and the care taken by the staff to ensure the food I was eating was indeed gluten-free. The food - well - you can't eat like this all the time. I definitely wouldn't say they were the best ribs or wings I've ever had either, but I would go back because I know it's safe and I haven't found another place for wings in town.

Have you been there? What did you think? Any other pubs you have visited that have good gluten-free options? Feel free to leave a comment!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ben Thanh Restaurant in Waterloo

Eating out at Asian restaurants is often a challenge for Celiacs. So many dishes seem to have soy sauce, which of course has wheat in it. (Well, many brands do).

Luckily there are usually options for Celiacs. My first choice at Chinese food restaurants is usually Singapore Noodles - a rice noodle dish that isn't in a sauce. Of course, I always ask the server to ensure they don't use soy sauce or other sauces, or other gluten products. Sometimes it is tough to get a concise answer though! (If you have any suggestions of other dishes to try, please leave a comment!)

But...this review isn't about Chinese restaurants. It's about a great Thai restaurant on Northfield in Waterloo called Ben Thanh. It's actually a chain with a few locations in Ontario. (Guelph, Waterloo, Cambridge, Burlington, London and Hamilton).

The good thing about Thai restaurants is they usually have a lot of fresh options, and not as many dishes that are fried or are in sauces. Ben Thanh is great because they seem to know their dishes well. I've been there many times and the server always goes to talk to the chefs about what dishes would be safe for me to eat.

So far, here are my findings:
  • The Lean Beef Pho Soup is gluten-free, and makes a great meal. I don't eat the sauce that comes on the side.
  • The Pad Thai is gluten-free
  • The fresh shrimp rolls are gluten-free (shrimp wrapped in rice paper, with lettuce and mint). Again I avoid the sauce.
  • The fried spring rolls (again wrapped in rice paper) might be gluten-free, but I'm almost certain a separate fryer is not used (so I'd avoid them).
  • The Vermicelli platters all have meat that is marinated in soy sauce - stay away from these dishes.

So far that's all the information I've discovered. Been to Ben Thanh or other Thai restaurants? Please leave a comment if you have anything to share!

Oh and finally, it's always recommended to ask your server - don't just take my word for it. Preparation techniques or ingredients can change at any time.

Enjoy eating out!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Keg

I've posted about The Keg in Waterloo before, but I just visited there this evening and had some additional information to post.

I decided today to have the prime rib, instead of my usual steak option. I always mention to my server that I cannot have gluten, and in this case I specifically questioned the "au jus" that was to accompany the prime rib.

The server didn't know off hand if I could have the au jus, but went to check with the cooking staff. A few minutes later, the host (or manager, I'm not sure which) came to talk to me and mentioned that the au jus contained "corn gluten". He wasn't sure exactly if I could have corn gluten, even though their allergy book indicated that it was fine for Celiacs. (yes, that means they actually have an allergy book. Very cool.)

I did ensure him that "corn gluten" is fine (the word gluten is a little scary, but corn gluten is just corn), and therefore the au jus was fine.

Also, I requested a Caesar salad without croutons, and apparently they made it in a separate bowl so there was no contamination. (The Caesar dressing is safe, I've checked.)

Finally, my meal came with a baked potato and beans and mushrooms. The beans and mushrooms were a little different than the ones my wife (a non-Celiac) got. Hers were cooked in some sort of sauce, and mine were completely plain - probably steamed. I'm not sure exactly why I couldn't have the normal veggies, but they were obviously cautious in preparing my meal.

Overall, it was a great dinner and I really appreciated the staff's knowledge and care about eating gluten-free.

Trip to Madison, Wisconsin

A few times a year I travel to Madison, Wisconsin on business. It's a great city with lots of interesting restaurants. Eating out tips are always handy, so in the case you find yourself in Madison, here are some restaurants you can try.

1) Sardine's - I ate here recently, and the server definitely knew about eating gluten-free. She mentioned (without me asking) that their fries are cooked in a separate fryer and in peanut oil. I had the steak frites, and a nice fresh salad. Very good.

617 Williamson St. (in back)
Madison,WI 53703
(608) 441-1600

2) Bandung Indonesian Restaurant - this is actually right across the street from Sardine's. I was a little worried at first since the menu had a lot of stir fries and dishes with sauces. However, when I mentioned I was on a gluten-free diet, they produced a menu that had all the items on the menu that were completely gluten-free, or could be modified (and instructions on the menu how...e.g. "No soy sauce", "Rice noodles instead of egg noodles", etc.). Any restaurant that has a gluten-free menu is good in my books.

600 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-6910

3) Einstein Bagels - I visit this chain often because it has good salad options. The one salad that I've checked up on is the Chipotle salad. The ingredients are indeed gluten-free, including the dressing...with one exception: I don't eat the tortilla strips since the last time I was there they mentioned that they've changed the ones they use recently, and couldn't tell me if they were gluten-free. They are in a separate little container though, so there is no contamination.

4) Mexican food - Madison has a plethora of good Mexican food restaurants. This is good news for Celiacs as a lot of authentic Mexican food is made from corn. (notably corn tortillas) I always try fit in a couple Mexican meals when I'm in Madison.

Well, that's just a few of the establishments I visited on my last trip. I'll post other restaurant options as I take more business trips there.

Have your own favourite restaurants outside of the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge areas? Feel free to add a comment!

Gluten-free in England and Italy

I've now returned from my 3-week trip in Europe - 1 week in England and 2 weeks in Italy. I thought a little summary post about the trip (with respect to being a Celiac) would be helpful.

So, here are my observations:


It seems like London is further ahead in gluten-free options than we are here in Ontario. The grocery stores had plenty of GF options; but more importantly they label so many of their products as gluten free or non-gluten free. Just look for the special gluten-free symbol on the front of the product! Pretty handy.

However - they must have slightly different 'rules' about what ingredients are and aren't allowed in England. I say this because some products that were labeled gluten free had ingredients that I wouldn't dare to eat. For instance, "wheat starch (gluten-free)" seems like an oxymoron to me, but I'm not sure what sort of processing was used (and can't pretend to be an expert). I just stayed away from these products.

Which reminds me, if you fly British Airways, you get food made in Britain. No kidding! But the bun that came with my gluten-free meal had ingredients listed on of which was this same "gluten-free wheat starch". Just be careful.

With all that said, I do think that London at least is further along in terms of gluten-free options. Restaurants - especially 'fast' food chains - seem to have more gluten-free options. For instance, a few of the Starbucks I visited had a gluten-free pastries. Pret a Manger, another popular fast food restaurant had "sandwiches without the bun". I had a shrimp salad which was amazingly fresh and tasted great.

The restaurants we visited were pretty knowledgeable as well, but I guess I was most impressed with the large food chains that had options usually not found here in Ontario.

Oh, and before I forget. I found a gluten-free beer in England! That's two that I know of now (the other one being La Messagère of course). Here's a picture:


Eating in Italy was both easy and tough for me. It was easy because although many places we visited didn't speak English, the business card-sized note I made up in Italian indicating that I needed gluten-free food was ideal. It worked so well, I almost feel like making one in English so I don't have to explain to my server every time I go out to eat!

It was tough though because my wife (who isn't a Celiac) ate so much great bread and pasta that I was pretty jealous.

But overall, I didn't have a tough time. At our first town (Padua/Padova), we found a natural food store that helped us find gluten-free products. They directed us to the pharmacy - yes that's correct - you buy gluten-free products at pharmacies in Italy.

So we found a pharmacy close by and it had so many gluten-free products. Needless to say I stocked up (see the picture below).

The fresh (not-frozen) Schar products were really the best of the bunch, though everything was very good. The Bon Matin buns were sweet breakfast buns, perfect with a little Nutella on them for breakfasts. I also bought sandwich buns and just purchased sliced meat and cheese from the markets for lunches. Not only was this cost effective, but a quick and delicious lunch. The pharmacy also gave me a handful of free sample products, such as cookies, crackers and savoury snacks!

As an aside: Italy's sliced meats are a lot different than the processed meats we get here in Ontario at grocery stores. They have a lot less preservatives and fillers - in fact, finding ones with gluten is very unlikely. Even salami and sausages that I found were pretty much pork, salt, pepper and spices.

Dinners worked out well - instead of the 'primi' course (which is usually pasta), I enjoyed salads, prosciutto with melon, or cheeses. Often I tried the risotto if it was available, and the servers ensured me that it was cooked without gluten. (The most common problem with risotto is the chicken broth that the rice is cooked in. This chicken stock often contains gluten in store bought products in Canada.) It seemed fine in Italy, but definitely check if you are there and have risotto.

The second course was easy as it's almost always meat or fish. In fact, if you don't order a side dish, sometimes you just get the meat. (A little shocking when you just get a whole fish plopped down in front of you!). Anyway, most of these second courses were just grilled or baked, with not a lot of sauces to worry about. But very tasty indeed!

All in all, it was a great trip, and a lot less troublesome than expected.

Do you have any vacation tips, especially when visiting foreign countries? Please add a comment!

One last picture from Italy:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trip to England and Italy

Next week I leave for London, England for 1 week, and a tour of Italy for 2 weeks. We'll see how eating gluten-free is like in both places.

I've heard that there are many gluten-free options in Italy since many Italians have Celiac disease. I don't speak Italian, but have an allergy phrase book, and also a business-card sized description of what I cannot eat (with some suggestions of what I can eat) in Italian.

If this is helpful for anyone, this is what an Italian friend wrote up for me:

Soffro di una forte allergia al glutine, per cui NON posso mangiare nessun tipo di frumento, segale, orzo o malto (niente pasta, pizza, pane, fritto impanato, etc.).

Posso invece mangiare prodotti elaborati dal mais, dal riso e dalla patata.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Restaurant Review - Hannah's Tapas Bar in Waterloo

The other night we visited Hannah's Tapas Bar for dinner ( For a Friday night, the restaurant wasn't very busy, but apparently gets busy later in the evening as people are looking for snacks ('tapas' are really just small tasting plates, like appetizers.) Also, Friday night happens to be $4 martini night! You only could choose from 4 different types of martinis, but the 4 they had were still excellent.

The atmosphere was cool, and the waitress was very professional. It was hard to tell if she knew about Celiac disease, but she seemed to know that gluten was wheat and related products.

Our party of 4 ordered a variety of tapas, and I could eat most of them. The waitress went over the whole menu and indicated what was and wasn't gluten-free. At one point the waitress recommended a dish cooked with beer. This just shows you that even though wait staff may know some things about eating gluten-free, it's always best to ask lots of questions.

The highlights for me were the scallops, shrimp, warm olives and tomato & goat cheese salad.

We ended up passing on dessert (even though they had creme brulee - my favourite). Instead, our party went for a walk and ended up at Yukiko's for dessert. (They also had creme brulee which was gluten-free. It was decent, but not the best I've ever had.)

Overall, the food was excellent...but perhaps a bit pricey if you are hungry and are looking for quantity. The bill for the 4 of us was around $110, including a couple drinks each. Service was good, and knowledge about eating gluten-free was definitely better than average.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5
Celiac friendly: 4 out of 5
Value: 3 out of 5

Monday, September 3, 2007

Restaurant Review - Wildfire (in Niagara Falls)

This weekend I went to visit Niagara Falls for a family get-together, and ended up at a newly renovated restaurant called Wildfire Grill House & Lounge. (6788 Thorold Stone Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario, 905-356-3473). Apparently this is somewhat of a restaurant chain (with another location in St. Catherines), but I don't think is associated with a chain of restaurants by the same name in the United States.

Their menu is fairly broad - from pizzas all the way to steak and seafood. I'd rate the atmosphere and menu along the lines of The Keg. It's definitely not fancy dining, but upscale in terms of chain restaurants and prices.

We went on a Sunday night at around 6 pm and the restaurant was nearly empty. We also had a party of 3 children. There was no kids menu but they did have kiddie pizzas or kiddie pasta as options.

Since more of the lower end menu choices involved gluten (pizzas, pastas, etc.) I ended up asking about the Prime Rib with Crab Legs. It was $42.95 - yes, quite steep. (It was really the crab that pushed it up into the 40's, since the Prime Rib alone was much less...but I'm a sucker for good crab).

It was obvious that the waitress had never heard of Celiac disease, but she did apparently talk to the chef to make sure my meal would be safe. As I expected, it turns out that the jus for the prime rib was not gluten-free so she recommended against the whole dish. I ended up with a filet mignon, which cost more money. I wasn't willing to give up on the crab - so my dish was $47.95. Right out - yes, that's expensive. For a high end restaurant with a unique atmosphere...maybe. But for a restaurant somewhat equivalent to The Keg, it was quite over the top for price.

The waitress asked me if I wanted rice or baked potato, and since I always end up with potato, I thought I'd inquire about the rice dish. The waitress said it was wild rice and probably would be fine, but I asked if she could check with the chef anyway in case it was cooked in non-GF chicken broth, which is common in restaurants. I said if rice wasn't gluten-free, then the potato would do.

Because of the price and my worry for such a big meal (steak & seafood), I bowed out gracefully on appetizers.

When the meal came I ended up getting the potato, meaning the rice was likely not gluten-free, or the waitress forgot. The meal wasn't as large as expected, but still was plenty of food. Although the food was decent, the crab was not worth the money. It wasn't really fishy, but it didn't really have that sweet taste that good crab can have. In a way, it really didn't taste like anything. I guess it's hard to expect much from a restaurant chain claiming to be a 'grill house', but like I mentioned, I am a sucker for good carb.

The 8 oz steak was good, but its bacon wrapping (almost the best part!) wasn't superb. The potato came with just butter, and a selection of toppings served table-side.

All in all, the food was decent, but not for the price. An equivalent meal at The Keg would have probably been about $10 less; or I would have expected much better preparation. And even though the waitress hadn't heard of Celiac disease, she did seem to do her homework with the chef.

Would I return? Perhaps. But no seafood next time.

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
Celiac friendly: 3 out of 5
Value: 2 out of 5

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Kitchener-Waterloo's Worst Restaurants for Celiacs

Well, I've mentioned my favourite restaurants in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. But which ones should you avoid? Here are Kitchener-Waterloo's worst restaurants when it comes to gluten-free options.

  1. East Side Marios - what a disaster. There's almost nothing on the menu that is gluten-free. The last time I went for lunch, I had a chicken salad, hold the marinade on the chicken, and hold the dressing. (yes, that tasty salad dressing they have is NOT gluten-free). So basically it was plain chicken on a bed of lettuce. My mother (who also has Celiac disease) went to another East Side Marios, ordered a simple steak and got sick. Not cool.
  2. Boston Pizza - along the same lines as East Sides. I think the only thing on the menu that's gluten-free are their ribs, which are not very good. If you want ribs, try Montanas as their Texas Bold BBQ Sauce is gluten-free.
  3. Kelsey's - is along the same lines as East Side Marios. I ended up with a salmon salad, with oil and vinegar dressing.
  4. Barley Works at the Huether Hotel - when I asked the waitress about gluten-free options (after an explanation of what it meant to be gluten-free), she chuckled and said: "Good luck". She was nice enough mind you, and checked with the kitchen staff - but in the end she told me that pretty much the whole kitchen is based around wheat. The end result? A very plain steak without spices or marinade, with boiled vegetables (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower - yuck). At least they tried, but I wouldn't go back.
  5. Tim Hortons - I wouldn't really expect much, but being such a large chain and so prominent in Ontario, I'd expect at least something on the menu for Celiacs (well, besides coffee of course!). Even chili at Wendy's is gluten-free, but not at Tim Hortons.

Seems like a pretty common thread: low-cost dining and pub food is tough for Celiacs. Although I'm not surprised, it's such a shame because you can make many simple foods without wheat and have them taste good. And with so many people suffering from Celiac disease, you would think that these large restaurant chains would start thinking about more gluten-free options.

But besides Tim Hortons and other obvious ones like pizza places, many fast food restaurants have options that are gluten-free.

  • Wendy's - chili and salads (taco salad)
  • Harvey's - some salads
  • Subway - salads
  • McDonalds - fries, hamburger patties, salads

Have your own 'worst' restaurant? Feel free to post your own comments.

Kitchener-Waterloo's Best Restaurants for Celiacs

Here are my current favourite restaurants in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. These restaurants have many gluten free options and seem to know a lot about how to serve a good meal that is gluten-free.

  1. Charbries ( - The food, service and atmosphere is top notch here. They seem very knowledgeable about Celiac disease, and the last few times I've visited there they've mentioned they have a staff member with Celiac disease. Their caesar salad (prepared table-side) is wonderful - just ask them to make it without the croutons and Worcestershire sauce (which contains malt). Their main dishes are all outstanding, and most can be custom made to be gluten-free if they aren't already. Leave room for dessert - home made ice creams or creme brulee. With a new menu every season, you can always find a reason to visit Charbries.
  2. Verses Restaurant ( - Well, I just wrote a post about their amazing gluten-free bread, and just for that they deserve to be in this list!
  3. Del Dente's ( At Del Dente's, all orders are made from scratch. I went with a party of 4 individuals and get this: one had Celiac disease (that's me), one had an allergy to garlic, and one had an allergy to nuts. They must have thought we were part of some strange allergy convention or something. Anyway, they catered to all of us, and none of us got sick. The food was also very tasty.
  4. The Keg - Ok, so I'm a sucker for steak. I've heard rumours that the Keg 'dusts' their steaks with flour, but the Waterloo Keg on Northfield Ave does not. The last time I was there, my server had Celiac disease and we looked at the ingredients in the caeasar salad dressing and there was no gluten. Just ask them to make the salad in a new bowl, so you don't get contamination with croutons from someone else's order. The steak is obviously the highlight, but add some crab or lobster and enjoy the feast.

Well, those are my favourites. Please feel free to leave a comment with your own favourites! And as always, don't forget to ask your server whether your choices are indeed gluten-free, as staff and preparation techniques are always changing.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Verses Restaurant (Amazing gluten-free bread)

A few weeks ago, I went to Verses as part of Kitchener-Waterloo's Summerlicious. Most high end restaurants know about Celiac disease and the importance of a gluten-free diet. Verses was no exception - the service was wonderful and the food was great.

However the real highlight for me was their gluten-free bread. Most restaurants serve bread at the beginning of a meal, but I can't think of too many restaurants that offer gluten-free bread for their Celiac customers. Verses goes the extra mile and has gluten-free bread!

And here's the kicker: I've never had gluten-free bread that tastes this good. It was absolutely incredible! It was a cheese bread, and didn't taste at all like any other gluten-free breads I've ever tried. It didn't fall apart, had good texture, and really just tasted like 'normal' fresh bread. Quite amazing.

After asking the manager about it, she informed me that it's made by a lady at the Kitchener market. I haven't investigated more since, but I plan to.

In the mean time, if you know any more information about this lady at the market, feel free to leave a comment.

For more information about Verses, see I would highly recommend this restaurant.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Restaurants You Thought You Couldn't Eat At

Here are a few restaurants in Waterloo, Ontario that I never would have imagined I could eat at being on a gluten-free diet.

Although some of these I frequent often, it's always important to mention to your server that you have Celiac disease and that you need to have a meal without any gluten. Recipes, techniques or kitchen personelle can change at any time.

Feel free to comment on this list if you have any favourite restaurants or good tips!

  1. Bakers Cove Seafood Restaurant - I believe the owner has a friend that is a Celiac, and is well versed in preparation techniques to avoid contamination. Although I'm a sucker for good french fries (and they cook them in a separate fryer from the breaded fish), their grilled fish sprinkled with rice flour is incredible as well. Fish and chips for a Celiac - gotta love it. (
  2. Ennios Pasta House - Last time I was there my server was a Celiac as well! They may not mention this on their menu (I can't quite remember), but they do indeed have rice noodles so many of their pasta dishes can be modified to be gluten-free. Ask them to make the sauce from scratch - I had the alfredo last time I was there and they prepared it without wheat flour.
  3. Mongolian Grill - if you ask your server, they will give you a list of all the sauces that do and don't contain wheat-related products. Also, when you go up to fry your creation, mention to the cook that you are allergic to wheat products and they'll clean the grill area for your stir fry very well, and take extra precautions against contamination from other meals around you. There is always a risk of contamination at restaurants like this, but I definitely have been impressed with their effort.
  4. Subway - Often I need a quick meal, and some of Subway's salads are indeed gluten-free. I've researched their ingredients and the Subway Club salad and Subway Melt salad (including the Kraft dressing packets) are gluten free. Depending on the Subway you go to, they can be very clean and will change their gloves and knives for you if you mention it to them. The Subway in Uptown Waterloo is one I frequent regularly.
  5. McDonalds - Ok, this isn't a "Best of Waterloo" series (wait for an upcoming post), but again if you need a fast food fix McDonalds does have some options for you. The meat patties are gluten-free (so you can order a burger without the bun) and the fries are cooked in a separate fryer as well. Now whether you want to go to McD's is another topic altogether...

Ok, that's it for now. More to come soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Welcome to SafeCeliac

Welcome to SafeCeliac - the place to find information about restaurants for individuals on a gluten-free diet.

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2003, and have found one of the most challenging aspects is eating out. Many restaurants don't have gluten-free options, or don't know much about making gluten-free dishes that are palatable.

However, when a restaurant does provide a gluten-free meal that tastes great (and also comes with a dessert!), it's such a great dining experience.

So - this site is targeted towards reviewing restaurants...but not in the traditional sense. SafeCeliac is tailored towards individuals with Celiac disease, so restaurants are reviewed based not only on the quality of food, but the knowledge of the staff about the gluten-free diet, the menu and its respective gluten-free options, and the ability for the restaurant to tailor dishes to meet a gluten-free diet.

I'm based out of the Kitchener-Waterloo area, so most of the reviews here are from this area. (Although I do often travel outside this region, especially to the Greater Toronto Area)

Please feel free to leave comments related to your experiences as well!