Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten Free Niagara

Where to eat gluten free in Niagara?

It's a bit of a tough one. Sure, there are restaurants who do rice pasta. It seems to be the most frequent offering on menus.

I don't eat out a lot here and there are restaurants that I eat that probably don't have a clue what gluten is and yet, I feel comfortable eating certain items. I have a restaurant to eat chicken wings, nachos and french fries at although they are a pub with probably no concept of gluten free. I just know that the wings are fried separately and they aren't breaded.

Breakfasts are often easy... Bacon, eggs and possibly the homefries depending on the spices. Some places will substitute a fruit cup for you instead of toast.

I work in a place that has a very nice restaurant and they make gluten free bread on site. I get a lot of phone calls from people who almost sound stressed when talking about it. " Well, we'd like to stay but I'm celiac"  or "My daughter is celiac and we need to bring food for her"  It's nice to reassure people that we can take care of them.  On a recent weekend, I went to this restaurant for breakfast and enjoyed eggs, bacon and toast. The toast was grilled over an open flame as they don't have a separate toaster and this is how they do their GF toast for breakfasts. I've also heard that they will substitute the same bread for lunch sandwiches.

For dinner, I've always liked The Keg Steakhouse. There is one in St Catharines as well as two in the Fallsview area of Niagara Falls, Ontario which are a little more expensive than the St Catharines restaurant. I've enjoyed the prime rib ( no au jus), baked potato and on a more casual evening, nachos, bacon wrapped scallops and garlic and cheese shrimp. They do bring sourdough bread to the table and the shrimp does come with more bread on the side but I forego that.  Margaritas or red wine may accompany these meals as well. For a short while, they did have a gluten free menu but they have since removed it.

There are a few restaurants that do rice pasta as I mentioned. Johnny RoccosCafe Amore - where the local Celiac group has dined and they have desserts and rolls available, and for a small intimate venue, La Scala Ristorante  which is a 30 seat restaurant. I don't usually go out for pasta since I prefer La Veneziane Corn Pasta

 There is a fantastic website called Gluten Free Ontario which lists all areas of Ontario as well as  different chain restaurants as well. It is frequently updated to reflect new establishments.  A few of the stores on the Niagara Falls and St Catharines sections do receive products from a local bakery which unfortunately I find extremely overpriced and the quality dismal.

The Celiac Scene has another list of restaurants that offer GF however I've looked up some of them and haven't really seen any information online regarding their offerings.

Pizza can be ordered from a couple different locations. Pizza Pizza has a gluten free crust and although it's a thin mostly rice flour based crust, it's great if you and your friends all want pizza. You do need to ensure you order the proper kind of pepperoni if you do order as the classic pepperoni contains gluten. Gluten free Ingredients at Pizza Pizza

You can also visit Boston Pizza. They feature gluten free pizza with crusts from Kinnikinnick . All the toppings that are GF are marked with a little star. At my restaurant I had pepperoni and bacon which is my favourite. Ask for it extra crispy so the crust is nicely cooked through.

You can also check out Roberto's Pizza  in St Catharines for a gluten free crust.

One of the local restaurants I often go to  is M.T Bellies  in Welland and they have just put out their new menu which does have some items listed as GF on it. One thing to stress is that you need to ask questions since this is new for them. I've enjoyed the pizza with chicken and bacon and I usually have the Centre Cut steak with garlic smashed potatoes and broccoli. To be perfectly honest, I often have the nachos and the potato skins which are fried and I haven't had any problems. One of their servers has a child with celiac and she helped me when I ordered my pizza.

Another local place I used to go to quite a bit is Jack Astor's. They've just come out with a gluten free menu as well. They have a few options that I would like as well. Definitely somewhere to go back to although I can't have any of their delicious Garlic Pan Bread any longer.
On the American side, you have a lot more options with all the national chains creating gluten free options and/or gluten free menus.

You can also look at the Gluten Free in Western New York website and the Buffalo Gluten Free website for even more places.

Back on the Canadian side of the border, one classic chain is Swiss Chalet. A 1/4 rotisserie chicken with chalet dipping sauce and salad is a great choice. The salad are never packaged with croutons so there is no worry there. Although they hand cut their french fries every day, they do occasionally deepfry breaded items in the same fryer so it is not a safe option. They also serve their meals with a bun and I ask not to have it added to my meal.

Overall, there still aren't a lot of places because there are a lot of chain restaurants and they are the type of restaurant that only has sauces and condiments listed as gluten free. Not much help there. But with a little research, you'll find something. Otherwise come on over. I'll BBQ!.

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