Probably you have heard the term ‘gluten-free’ in a number of circumstances? Diners are making decisions based on gluten-free (GF) as an option. What exactly does this term mean?
Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. That covers a lot of food. For persons with celiac disease eating gluten-free is their only choice. Diners will ask for GF dishes if they are either gluten sensitive or have made a conscious decision to avoid gluten in their diets. There are health benefits.
You might be thinking gluten-free means inferior taste and quality. The reality is that is very far from the truth. Gluten-free dining is delicious and can encompass a number of food choices in restaurants. In fact, you couldn’t tell the difference by taste between a GF dish and the regular fare with gluten.
From a few years ago, gluten-free acquired a reputation as not as tasty, a lack of variety and expensive. In the last couple of years, there have been advances in cooking without gluten, dramatic improvement in recipes and the source ingredients are much better. For the diner this means an enjoyable meal with many choices and a cost that can be only marginally more than non GF dishes.
There is a growing trend in Vancouver restaurants to provide GF options on their menu. Diners are requesting gluten-free preparation of menu choices. Vancouver is following the lead of other west coast cities like Portland and Seattle. This is not a fad given we are wanting more healthy choices, without compromising taste, quality or budget.
Eric Pateman, President & Founder of Edible Canada at the Market, is celiac and passionate about gluten-free options for his customers. His Edible Canada Bistro, located on Granville Island, is a leader in providing delicious and varied gluten-free dishes. Under his leadership, they have made conscious decisions to incorporate GF options in a subtle manner. The brunch, lunch and dinner menus provide choices in a non-invasive way.
It is important to recognize that every restaurant needs to make money. Eric estimates that around 20% of his customers will order the GF option from his extensive and varied menu. Interestingly, the number one ordered dish is the fish and chips and this is also a GF option.
How do they ensure you are getting a true gluten-free food? There are three major culprits when it comes to possible cross-contamination. Deep fryers, cutting boards and open flat grills offer the risk of contamination by gluten. At Edible Canada Bistro, all staff undergo rigorous training. Duck fat is used in their deep fryers and separate cutting boards are utilized. Bread is purchased from two local gluten-free suppliers. Even their bread crumbs are gluten-free.
Is there any food that cannot be accommodated by gluten-free preparation? No. Any and all types of food can eliminate gluten. Eric thinks that the last bastion is finding an ideal GF hamburger bun that won’t fall apart into a soggy mess.
Prices for gluten-free restaurant choices should drop over time as ingredients become more available and suppliers recognize the market opportunity. If you are considering gluten-free choices from a menu, don’t be afraid to ask the server or chef how they avoid any cross-contamination with gluten.
Edible Canada Bistro
1596 Johnston Street
Granville Island (across from the Market)
Brunch Saturdays & Sundays 9 am to 3 pm
Lunch Weekdays 11 am to 3 pm
Dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 pm to 9 pm
Friday & Saturdays 5 pm to 10 pm