Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cora's Breakfast in Cambridge

Well, I finally made it to Cora's Breakfast in Cambridge (on Hespeler Road). I had heard through the grapevine that they had buckwheat crepes, so I was looking forward to seeing if they were gluten-free.

Unfortunately, they are not and they do contain gluten. Also of note: the breakfast sausage contains gluten as well.

However, the breakfast was still incredible. There are plenty of dishes that celiacs can enjoy, including omelettes, fruit bowls, etc. (Their fruit creations are amazing!)

A little tip: get there early, as by 9:00 am on a Saturday they already have a lineup!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Langdon Hall

This week my wife and I went to Langdon Hall in Cambridge for dinner. What an amazing experience. The food was incredible, and the service was top notch as well. As a Celiac, you are in great hands. I mentioned to the server that I had Celiac disease and I didn't have to explain anything about what I could and couldn't have. She knew exactly what that meant.

They started me off with in house baked gluten free bread. It was a cinnamon-nut bread, which the waitress commented on as being 'different' for dinner but was great nonetheless. (I wouldn't say it was the best gluten free bread I've ever had, but certainly very decent and a welcome treat at a restaurant.) The only other restaurant I've ever had this treatment at was Verses in Kitchener.

Anyway, the menu seemed to have lots of choices for Celiacs - though you have to be a real 'foodie' to understand some of the things on there. There were lots of 'high' end food options like foie gras, duck, seafood, lamb, and items you don't usually find even at upscale establishments.

I wasn't too adventurous, and ended up choosing a salad to start (which was wonderful) and followed by a main course of beef two ways. The beef was served with mushroom quinoa, and steamed spinach and other veggies which was actually really good. The presentation of the food was so well done.

My wife chose a scallop appetizer (which was also gluten free) and tasted amazing. Probably the best scallop I've ever eaten, and cooked perfectly. Her main entree was duck, which I didn't try since we didn't ask if it was gluten-free.

We were too full for dessert, which actually turned out ok since this was one area that Langdon Hall didn't do very well for Celiacs. The only option was gelato (which apparently is very good there), but we decided against it. Lots of non-GF options though.

All in all, it's definitely a great place to go as a Celiac - highly recommended! But be warned - it's probably one of the most expensive restaurants in the area. Our meal, which was 2 appetizers, 2 glasses of wine and 2 entrees was almost $190 after tip! You could almost eat twice at Charbries or Verses for that price. But it's definitely worth a try for some special occasion.

Feel free to leave a comment if you've been to Langdon Hall yourself, or want to share any other restaurant information here.

Aroma Cafe in Uptown Waterloo

It's been a while since my last post - life has been busy. But one of the gems that I found in the last few months was a little cafe in Uptown Waterloo called the Aroma Cafe.

Besides having excellent coffee, the Aroma Cafe has a wide selection of gluten-free products. They have muffins (the types change regularly: I've tried blueberry, poppyseed, apple cinnamon, and others), cakes, desserts, soup, and even sandwiches that are all GF. I haven't yet tried a sandwich or dessert there - if you have, please feel free to leave a comment.

I spoke to the owner and I was impressed with her knowledge about eating gluten free. One thing to note though: because it is a small cafe, they will use the same knives and cutting boards as they do with non-GF products. They seem to be careful, but it may make sense to ask them to wipe down the cutting board and knife to be extra careful.

The Aroma Cafe is located in the Atrium, which is beside Angie's on Erb Street.

33 Erb Street West

Saturday, April 12, 2008

El Rinconcito Mexicano - Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge

Let me start by saying that El Rinconcito Mexicano is probably my best restaurant find in years.

Firstly, finding a real authentic Mexican restaurant in Kitchener-Waterloo is impossible - they just don't exist. El Rinconcito Mexicano is probably as authentic as you get, and the food is incredible. Since we now live in Cambridge, we are about 10 minutes away from this restaurant, located on Ainslie street near Main in downtown Galt.

Secondly, real Mexican food is usually very Celiac friendly since a lot of it is made from corn flour. El Rinconcito Mexicano's menu has plenty of options: from corn tacos, enchiladas (made from corn) and also other options that are less known to me, such as gorditas. You have to stay away from the burritos and other items made with flour tortillas, but the two ladies that work there (I think mother and daughter) are very friendly and helpful if you can't understand the somewhat cryptic menu. (See below for what their menu looks like!)

All of the food is home made and cooked fresh. The prices are very reasonable: you can easily eat most of the dishes for $8 tax included. I've been twice now and had the enchiladas (with chicken) and also the soft tacos (I've tried chicken, pork and beef). I also had the gordita which was amazing. Although there are some standard drinks available (Coke, Sprite, etc.) many of their drinks are sodas from Mexico, like grapefruit or orange soda. Pretty cool.

Now, don't expect fine dining here. The decor is made up of a good mishmash of what looks to be garage sale items and old furniture from a student apartment. There are probably only about 5 tables, so if it's busy you're stuck with takeout. Here's a picture to illustrate:

But all of this adds to it's character, and quite frankly with food this good it doesn't matter what you're sitting on. It's clean - that's the most important point here.
Plus, if you ever need ingredients for your Mexican feast at home, the restaurant has also a few shelves of hard to find items such as corn flour, mole sauce (not GF), peppers and salsas from Mexico.

Well there you have it. Even though from Waterloo it's probably about a 30 minute drive, it's definitely worth the trip some Saturday afternoon for a great Mexican lunch! Enjoy.

Blackshop Restaurant in Cambridge

My wife and I went to Blackshop on Hespeler road for her birthday a few weeks ago. Although I can honestly say that their sister restaurant in Waterloo (Sole) is not my favourite, Sole does treat Celiacs very well. I thought I'd see if Blackshop was similar.

Well, my overall impression was similar to Sole. The atmosphere was wonderful, and the menu looked great. The waitress didn't know much about Celiac disease but asked the chef about all my choices.

But overall the food just didn't taste amazing, as the menu, atmosphere (and price) would lead you to believe. I found it just mediocre, and actually didn't feel well afterwards.

I ended up ordering from their Southwestern specialty menu. For an appetizer I had an interesting twist on tacos - the shells were made from shredded and baked Parmesan cheese. Unfortunately the beef was served at room temperature. I didn't complain because I thought maybe it was supposed to be served that way. (?) Overall, I can't really say I enjoyed it though.

I chose the Enchiladas for my main meal. They were stuffed with pulled pork, which in theory sounds amazing but overall just tasted 'ok' - they definitely didn't wow me in any way. My wife ordered the Tequila Tiger Shrimp, and although the shrimp was good it was way too spicy for her to eat. They marked it with a '2 chilies' meaning it's medium, but it was way hotter than my '3 chili' tacos which we both could eat without breaking a sweat.

Here's one I haven't heard before though. My wife ordered the potato frites for an appetizer - basically french fries - and I asked the waitress if they were gluten-free and cooked in a separate fryer so I could sample them. She came back and said they were cooked in the same oil as other gluten-products, but "the chef says it's ok because all gluten breaks down in such a hot fryer and therefore you have nothing to worry about".

Wow! That's news to me, and of course I didn't believe it. All literature I've read certainly does not give this indication, and thus I stayed away from the fries. (As an aside - does that mean I can have onion rings because all the gluten content breaks down? Hahaha, wishful thinking.)

So that was pretty shocking. That comment alone makes me very skeptical about a restaurant. I appreciate the fact that they mention it, but a comment like "if you are very sensitive to gluten you might want to stay away from the fried food" would be a better answer.

Anyway, by the end of dinner, I wasn't feeling all that great, so we passed up on dessert. I really wanted to try their creme brule, (and it is my favourite) so you can tell I really wasn't feeling good! I'm really not sure if it was gluten contamination in their food or just indigestion. (I didn't get completely sick, just an upset stomach.)

I don't know if I'd return to Blackshop any time soon - their atmosphere and menu does look good, and perhaps their regular menu items are more tried and true. But for a $120 meal for 2 people (including wine), I feel like their are plenty of other restaurants (like Verses or Charbries in Waterloo) that would be much better options.

Have you been to Blackshop? What was your experience like? Feel free to leave a comment.

Fifty's Restaurant in Cambridge

A few weeks ago my wife and I visited Fifty's restaurant in Cambridge on Hespeler Road. It's a diner, with a menu that's typically tough for a Celiac to find options on - burgers, sandwiches, etc. But we thought we'd give it a try as sometimes you can find hidden gems in places like this.

I was hopeful, but I can honestly say it was a disaster. Although their menu was rather large (you could almost have anything: sandwiches, salads, ribs, chicken, fish, etc.) most didn't look appetizing or definitely contained gluten.

Firstly, the server didn't really know too much about eating gluten free, but she did offer to check with the kitchen staff. So I asked about the burgers (of course without the bun) but they contain wheat. The fries are cooked in the same oil as chicken fingers and other gluten-products. So that was out.

I ended up choosing the chicken breast sandwich without the bun, and coleslaw. I got the meal about 20 minutes later and the chicken was on a bun. I mentioned this to the waitress and she went back to the kitchen and returned in 2 minutes with a 'new' plate - she said this one was cooked fresh and didn't touch any bread.

I'm not sure what to think of that. Maybe their chicken breasts are already cooked and they could produce another one in 2 minutes, but it seemed awfully quick considering the first try took almost 20 minutes.

Anyway, the meal came with a mustard-mayo condiment on the side, which I asked about and the waitress said: "well the kitchen wouldn't have served you it because I marked 'no wheat' on your it must be ok". I thanked her politely but didn't eat it. About 5 minutes later she came back and said that it probably did have wheat in it after all.

Finally, my coleslaw had a few chunks of chicken in it. And my wife's didn't and that concerned me. How did a couple pieces of chicken get in the coleslaw? It just makes me think that the kitchen isn't being very careful in their preparation.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I won't be going back to Fifty's any time soon. In fact, my wife's dinner wasn't very good either (just a simple club sandwich) even if you're not a Celiac, I wouldn't recommend Fifty's.

All inclusive resorts and travelling

It's been a while since I've posted - seems like March just flew by. We have a family tradition of going south in March, and this year we went down to Club Med in the Bahamas.

I thought a little post about travelling and being a Celiac might start a good discussion on resorts to go to, travel tips, etc.

Firstly - when travelling I always try to bring my own food on the plane. You can easily make a GF sandwich, pack some snacks, and buy something to drink at the airport. On many flights I've been promised GF food, and they forget, give it to someone else by accident, or like many flights now, don't even offer a GF option. (It seems to be more common that you have to purchase a meal on the flight, and there is little (if anything) that is gluten-free.)

We've been to a variety of resorts, from Club Med, Sandals, Iberostar, and others. Although we like to experiment, time and time again we come back to Club Med for their food. Both my mother and I are Celiacs and have had good experiences at Club Med. Usually the staff speak English very well, and you can always talk to the head chef about the buffet.

On a few occasions, the chef walked my mother and I through the buffet and let us know what we could and couldn't eat. I also had soup on a few nights (they used cornstarch to thicken it), but on other nights they specifically said that wheat flour was used. My rule of thumb is always to ask.

Of course, being at Club Med does pose its challenges: they have a pastry chef on staff and amazing chocolate bread! (I remember how good these treats were from before I was diagnosed.)

Of the week we were there, we visited the buffet and both specialty restaurants. Neither my mother or I ever got sick, and we always ate very well.

I've also been on a couple cruises, and my mother has been on many through Princess. They've always tried to accommodate the GF-diet by having gluten free meal options and even gluten-free bread (usually just 'ok', but the fact that it's available is amazing).

I think they do a terrific job, but on a ship that large with so many staff and guests, things sometimes get lost in the mix. As an example, on my mother's last cruise they presented her meal, and she got half way through before they returned and said there was wheat in the sauce. She got very sick that evening...

As for other resorts we've been to, they usually have enough options that I can manage to eat GF for a week. Sticking to the basics is always a good bet - grilled fish, salads, etc. But it's nice to just not worry about it while on vacation. If you're heading to Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc. - knowing a little Spanish goes a long way. But if you stick to the larger resorts like Club Med, usually the chefs all speak English and also French.

If you have any travelling tips or good resort destinations, please feel free to comment.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lee Restaurant in Toronto

This Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting Lee Restaurant in Toronto. If you don't know much about Lee, it's owned by chef Susur Lee, a renowned and famous chef. (He's been on numerous TV shows, including Iron Chef America, and Opening Soon. In fact, the episode of Opening Soon was about Lee Restaurant!)

Lee is right beside his other restaurant (aptly named Susur) on King Street in downtown Toronto. The menu at Lee is all about tapas, and the atmosphere is hip and funky. We had reservations right when they opened at 5:30, and by 6:30 the restaurant was jam packed. Don't expect much privacy as the tables are fairly close together.

My wife and I had a wonderful dinner. The server knew all about Celiac disease and let me know which items on the menu I could and couldn't order. She even knew which items contained soya sauce, which of course most of the time has wheat.

I'd say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the items were naturally gluten-free. (You can check out an example of the menu yourself here:, though it does change.)

The food was outstanding. Some of the best tapas I've ever had, in fact.

I ordered the Coconut with lime, chili and shrimp soup, and my wife and I shared a beet salad with blue cheese dish, a baked polenta with ricotta cheese dish (almost like lasagna), the 4 meat satay, and jerk chicken. All of the items were naturally gluten free except on the of the 3 sauces that came with the meat satays, which I avoided. It was a ton of food, and we were very stuffed.

Unfortunately we were so stuffed that we had to pass on dessert, which looked amazing too. My guess was that they had 3 items on the menu that were gluten-free, including creme brulee. (though I didn't ask any more details at that point)

We both ordered drinks ($13 for a martini - a little steep, but a very good martini!) and the bill came to just over $100. This floored me. For the amount of food and drink we got, the quality, and service, the price was a steal really. As a Celiac, I had full confidence in the server's suggestions and knowledge about gluten-free, as they apparently have Celiacs in their restaurant frequently.

So if you haven't tried Lee and you're in Toronto - go for it!

(Ever been to Susur? How is it? I imagine it's just incredible.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Masala Bay Restaurant in Waterloo

Masala Bay in Uptown Waterloo (3B Regina St. North) is one of my favourite restaurants in Waterloo. I visit there frequently - their lunch buffet is wonderful and very good quality. Best of all, most of the dishes are gluten-free.

I've often asked the chef (a really nice man, by the way) about the use of gluten in their dishes and he definitely knows what it means to not have gluten. To illustrate my point: yesterday for lunch there was a new dish I've never tried called "yogurt curry", which had balls of something in with a sauce.

I asked him about the dish and he indeed said it was gluten-free. He said the balls were made from gram flour, which immediately I didn't recognize so I was concerned. (Gram flour is not a flour I use regularly or see regularly in foods, so I couldn't remember if it indeed was gluten-free).

He mentioned to me that gram flour is simply chickpea flour, which is indeed correct and is gluten-free. In fact, gram flour is a staple in Indian cuisine - a good thing for us Celiacs since wheat is therefore rarely used.

See and for more information about gram flour.

Anyway, my point of this story is that not only is Masala Bay a wonderful restaurant serving great food, but the chef knows about what is and isn't gluten-free, so definitely ask him if you have any questions.

As for the restaurant itself - don't expect "Curry in a Hurry" prices - the lunch buffet is $12.99 but is well worth every penny compared to 'fast food' curry places like Curry in a Hurry. Dinner is much more expensive, and quite frankly I prefer lunch because you get many of the same dishes but at a fraction of the cost.

Either way, if you've never been to Masala Bay, it's well worth the visit.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lily Ruth Restaurant in Cambridge

Last Saturday night I visited Lily Ruth restaurant in downtown Galt. We called ahead for reservations, and I talked to the owner about gluten-free options. She knew about Celiac disease and said they have plenty of dishes on the menu that were gluten-free or could be made gluten-free.

Definitely a good start! My mother was coming into town as well, and she's a Celiac as well. So we were pleased.

The restaurant has a nice atmosphere inside, and if you want privacy try to reserve the table for four in the back of the restaurant. (though don't expect speedy service back there - I think a few times they may have forgotten about us!)

The current menu is located here: As you can see, dinner entrees range from $15-$28, which is probably about right for this kind of upscale casual dining.

My starter was the soup of the day - a black bean soup which was above average. It didn't blow me away, but it was good. I always ask about the soup since it's hard to find gluten-free soups at restaurants...though I am finding that more restaurants of this calibre make their stock from scratch without gluten.

For my entree, I ordered the simply named "Chicken Breast" dish, which is described as:

Boneless, skinless, breast of chicken
Stuffed with Quebec double cream Brie
Wrapped in Parma ham
Pan fried and served with a mesquite veloute

On paper, this sounds great. Unfortunately I can't say I really enjoyed it. The chef made it without the veloute (which is a stock, and presumably had gluten in it) so it was a tad dry. To be honest, it didn't taste like anything really.

However, my mother's meal (which I got to try) was excellent. She ordered the White Ruffy that came on rice. The chef modified it slightly from the menu - I can't remember what in the wasabi pea crust had gluten in it. But overall it was amazing, which was good. The rice was also gluten-free, we checked with our server.

Both my wife and dad's meal were very good as well (though contained gluten).

We also asked about a few of the other dishes. They have a 'famous' burger and frites, which might sound odd at a restaurant of this nature, but think classic French. The burger is homemade and contains no gluten, however the fries are fried in the same fryer as other foods containing gluten. Bummer. I might order it next time, but something about eating a burger with mashed potatoes just isn't the same.

The warm salmon salad is also gluten-free.

For dessert - my favourite - creme brulee. It had a little bit of citrus taste to it and was delicious.

Overall, I was really impressed with the staff, the service (even though slow, we weren't in a rush), and some of the food - just not what I ordered. I think I'd give Lily Ruth another try since they did seem to be careful about our food...but I'd pick something else off the menu.

Here's their website if you'd like to learn more about them:

Been there? What did you think? Do you have any other restaurant suggestions in KW or Cambridge? Feel free to leave a comment!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Elixir in Cambridge

This weekend I visited Elixir Restaurant in Cambridge. It's an Italian restaurant, so when my wife booked the reservation she asked the staff if they had options for Celiacs.

Indeed the said they had plenty of naturally gluten-free options, and all sauces and soups are made from scratch. In addition, if we ordered in advance, they would be able to provide some of their pastas gluten-free (using rice noodles).

I was impressed already, and we hadn't even stepped foot in the restaurant!

I ended up not pre-ordering any pasta, but when we got there and viewed the menu, indeed there were quite a few items that appeared gluten-free (meats, fish, etc.) The waitress seemed to know a little about Celiac disease, but seemed to be very careful and asked the kitchen staff about my whole meal.

In ended up ordering their famous lamb shank (served on mashed potatoes), with their red lentil soup to start. (It's almost a rule for me to order the soup if it's gluten-free, and especially if it's made from scratch. Most often Celiac's cannot have soup at restaurants due to the possibility of gluten in the stock or the use of wheat as a thickener.)

The soup was very tasty, and the lamb shank was very tender - the meat just fell of the bone.

The biggest disappointment of the meal was dessert. They only had two options, neither of which were gluten-free. I asked if they had ice cream or something simple, but no luck. Elixir is a small restaurant, and the main meal was quite good, so I suppose I shouldn't complain on this point. But it is nice to have a least some simple dessert option for Celiacs.

But overall if you don't have a big sweet tooth, as a Celiac you will probably enjoy Elixir.

34 Main Street, Cambridge


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Casa Greek (Cambridge)

Last night I visited Casa Greek on Hespeler Road in Cambridge. My wife and I were driving around the city hungry, looking for options, and ended up here by chance.

At first I was a little bit skeptical. The decor is a little cheesy, and this is a 'family-style' diner which didn't seem authentically Greek. But, we were very hungry and got a table immediately - for a Saturday night at 7 pm, this was our only real requirement!

The waiter didn't seem to know too much about Celiac disease, but he checked with the chef regarding my meal and I could eat everything. I had the chicken souvlaki meal, which comes with Greek salad, roasted potatoes and rice. The waiter thought the rice might be a problem, but turns out it was fine. I also asked about the salad dressing and chicken marinade, and both were made without gluten.

Overall, it was a really good meal, and I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the fact that you get a *ton* of food - definitely make sure you prepare an appetite as the portions are huge.

The salad was amazing, and the rest of the meal was equally good. I don't know if I can say it is completely authentic, but it was definitely better than other Greek meals I've had recently (i.e. Mediterraneo's in Waterloo, not to mention most of their items have gluten).

And finally, the price for the amount of food is amazing. The chicken souvlaki meal was $11.99, and my wife's Gyro dinner (not gluten-free) was $9.99.

I would definitely recommend Casa Greek if you're a Celiac and are looking for a good-sized Greek meal.

Casa Greek
350 Hespeler Road
Cambridge, ON N1R 7N7

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hannah's Bella Bistro

I've written about Hannah's Tapas Lounge in the past, but the main dining room (Hannah's Bella Bistro) is a wonderful spot for an upscale lunch or dinner.

I was there last week for dinner and had a great experience. I've always been impressed with their food, but more importantly their knowledge and care for eating gluten-free is outstanding.

Example: I ordered one of the specials for the evening: a bison entree. It came with a glaze, so I asked about it to make sure it was gluten-free. The waitress came back and said that the chef put a little bit of soy sauce in the glaze, so it was not gluten-free. Instead they'd make me a special sauce for the bison.

Sometimes I can't believe how well people do their jobs. It may seem like a simple thing to Celiacs (most soy sauce has wheat in it), but as a chef running a busy restaurant, remembering a little detail like that is impressive. Kudos to the chef.

If you've never visited Hannah's, I'd highly recommend it:

Sole in Waterloo

A comment was left about Sole (off of Erb Street, near Caroline) a few weeks back, and I agree with the author: they seem to have a good knowledge about eating gluten-free. If I recall correctly, I think one of their staff has Celiac disease.

I've never had a problem finding something to eat at Sole, and I've always been treated well.

On a personal level though, I don't really find their food top notch. Don't get me wrong: their menu looks great, and the presentation is good, but I just usually don't find myself being "wowed" with the taste. I've talked to different people about this and some very much agree with me, and some don't.

I'd love to hear your comments!

In the end, Sole is a great restaurant for Celiacs and has a great atmosphere. I think for the money, you get a better meal at Hannah's or Charbries. Just my 2 cents...

Expanding my horizons

As it turns out, I'm moving to Cambridge next week and will hopefully be extending my restaurant adventures ever so slightly out of the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

So expect to see more reviews from restaurants in Kitchener, Waterloo and now Cambridge on

If you have any great tips of restaurants to visit (or not to), please leave a comment.

Gadino's Pizza (gluten-free pizza!)

Thanks to a comment, I found out about Gadino's Pizza in Kitchener. A couple weeks ago, I called them to order a pizza: yes indeed they make gluten-free pizzas and I got to taste one first hand.

I can't honestly say that the crust was the best pizza crust I've ever had (it was pretty tough at the edges), but overall it was a great pizza. And ordering in pizza is such a treat for Celiac's that I was pretty ecstatic. I'd definitely order it again!

I tried to ask a few questions about their toppings but unfortunately I don't have too many tips to share. The man I was talking to didn't know if the pepperoni or ham was gluten-free. I stayed away from both of those toppings, but he said other customers haven't complained of any problems. If you find out more details, feel free to leave a comment.

He was a very nice man though - I think he might have been the owner. He even called me back about 1 hour later to see how I liked the pizza.

Here's Gadino's phone number once again: 519-579 2901.