In the U.S.A., Chili’s is a fairly popular chain restaurant based on Southwest and Southern fusion with a penchant for hot and spicy food.. And as restaurants went in the States, it was one of my favourites and then we moved north of the border. Chili’s were few and much farther between.
The first one in Saskatoon opened about three to four years ago and the service and food was not stellar. This was due partially to the fact that it is not corporate. part of the American chain, but also partially because it was a franchise. In the years since, the service has improved drastically, as has the quality of the food.
But that was all Pre-CD. In the last two years since diagnosis, I was learning what I could eat and what I couldn’t without glutenizing myself. Then, my family went back again, I figured out they had a GF menu and this is where the review will start! 😉
Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Peppers – The service has become a highlight and the food has become much more consistent and better in quality to the point that it now one of our favourite restaurants. The only reason it’s not a 5 out of 5 is the simple reason it’s not a GF restaurant.
Location: Preston Crossing, Saskatoon
Restaurant type: Gluten friendly – they have a GF menu, but it is better to talk to the wait staff. Supposedly the menu has not been updated in quite awhile and there are other options that should be included.
Food: On my last visit, I tried one of their new steaks, a Pepper Jack Ribeye. Along with the perfectly cooked steak, I was able to get french fries cooked in a dedicated fryer with their spicy salt mix. The meal was phenomenal
The meal before that I went for a simpler fare with Cajun wings – and they were adequate. The flavour was there and they were cooked well, it’s just the size of the wings was a tad small. But for restaurant wings they were definitely not the worst, and only slightly above average. The steak was the much better option.
Selection: There is a decent amount of GF menu options. However as I mentioned before, it is better to ask the wait staff about all of the options. For instance, the Pepper Jack Ribeye was not on the GF menu since it was brand new. And the waiter/manager was able to walk me through all of the side options to ensure that I was getting GF!
Price: It’s a chain restaurant and is on par with most of the chain restaurants. About $25 for the steak and $10 for the higher end apps. I fed my family of four for roughly $75 without adult bevvies, tip included. So not necessarily a four night a week meal destination.
Spicy Ending: When this restaurant first opened, we were underwhelmed by everything. Now that they have had time to work out some of the kinks, it has become a place worth visiting again and again – even calling it one of my favourite restaurants again!
As some of you have surmised, I now live in the the Great White North (of North America), otherwise known as Canada. I’m originally from the States, but now call the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, my home.
In this Bridge City, there is a local literary show called “Lit Happens,” hosted by local author, some-time celebrity and friend, Wes Funk. About two months after starting this blog, he asked to join him on the show for a segment about this blog. I finally gave in about a month ago. So here’s my interview with Wes!
Bread, bagels, tortillas, cake, cookies, pizza … the list goes on and on of items that you supposedly cannot have as soon as you’re diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. BCD, I didn’t worry about where I was getting bread or what kind. Of course that changed immediately ACD.
Fortunately we now live in an age where Gluten Free or Paleo has become a fad diet for most. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us out from whom it is a necessary evil that we have to live with every Girl Guide or pizza filled day. Alternatives are a priority and I searched for quite a while among different brands before I found some non-local bakery options that were cost effective and good! The best among those (and the reason I haven’t searched for different options) is the fantastic GF brand –
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 Peppers – the only reason they didn’t rate a perfect score is a few personal preferences.
Product Offerings: Breads options such as Bagels, Rolls, Tortillas & Bread (of course)!; Dinner options such as Pizza Crusts, Frozen Meals & Burritos; Desserts such as Cookies, Brownies and Cinnamon Rolls
Taste: For this, I will divide it up as I did for the selections above. So to begin with, let’s talk about Breads.
Pre-rollin’ and lookin good!
I have not tried everything in their bread options simply because my local grocers have not had all the options. That said what I have tried is the Plain and Whole Grain Bagels and the Large Tortillas. And everything that I’ve tried has been outstanding. I will use both of these primarily for breakfasts such as the tortillas in a breakfast burrito. The taste and texture are superb, not waxy like certain other brands (lookin at you Good for Life). While GF tortillas and bread in general lack the pliability that Gluten provides wheat filled products, Udi’s tortillas come the closest to folding like a regular tortilla. And the trick with the bagels, microwave them for about 30 seconds and they are perfect – soft and not too dense.
As far as breads go, I found Glutino breads (a sister company of Udi’s with Boulder Brands). I got hooked by Glutino’s Cheese Bread and haven’t needed to look for anything else. The only complaint I have with most GF options is portion sizes – they are usually about half as big as their Glutenized counterparts.
I have tried a few of the no name grocery bread products – don’t do it! Go for Udi’s or Glutino – they might be a bit more expensive, but they are worth it.
I haven’t tried a lot of Udi’s Dinner options outside of their Pizza Crust. Unfortunately the only pizza crust option that I’ve found that I would 100 percent choose over any others is my Brazilian Pizza Crust recipe. Every other crust is thin and smaller than necessary. That said, Udi’s crust is still good in a pinch and better than most pizza joints simply because you can actually top your pizza rather than the sprinkling that those places do.
What comes after dinner? Dessert! I recently found Udi’s Salted Caramel Cashew soft-baked cookies – OMG! The only problem I had with them is that I ate them too quickly and there weren’t enough in the package for me to have more! If you weren’t told they were GF, you wouldn’t have a clue. So GOOD! The only other item I have tried so far in the dessert category has been the Cinnamon Rolls. As far as cinnamon rolls go, they would be better with cream cheese frosting rather than the sugary glaze included. And they can be a bit tough or dense if you over or under cook them.
All told, Udi’s Gluten Free is a brand I will recommend to any one who asks.
Across Canada, there is a breakfast cafe chain that thrives on fresh, wholesome food centred around fruit. On the whole, or in slices, Chez Cora is a fantastic idea – if you like that kind of good for you, fru-fru, I mean fruit-fruit, stuff!
Personally I believe that breakfast should be a hearty meal as it was always meant to be. Eggs, toast, lots of bacon, hash browns and the fruit should be optional on your pancakes if at all! Then I was diagnosed Celiac and I had to drop the toast and most of the pancakes. Eh, steak and eggs for breakfast it is then. Or better yet, a breakfast burrito (GF of course!)
Well folks if you’re like me when it comes to breakfast, then this is not the place for you. If you care about no sugar added to your fruit smoothie, then Chez Cora is for you. Getting to the core of this restaurant, if I wasn’t looking for heartier fare and was really interested in high-quality, super healthy food at premium prices, then this place would be fantastic!
Rating: 3 out of 5 Peppers – a long wait coupled with a lacklustre portion compared to the menu and excessive prices means I am not rushing back any time soon.
Location: Stonebridge area of Saskatoon, SK
Restaurant type: Gluten Sensitive (Their warning – Despite all the care that we take in the preparation of our sensitive gluten menu dishes, we cannot guarantee the absence of cross-contamination while handling and cooking food.) On the whole, you could be glutenized here if you are not careful. I didn’t have an issue with my breakfast choices.
The picture of the French Toast in the menu filled most of the plate, not half!
Food: On the whole, the food was flavourful and looked amazing. There was one Gluten Sensitive option that called out to me – Banana French Toast. According to the menu and picture, this decadent dish featured three banana cake slices, dipped in French toast batter, filled with bananas, chocolatey-hazelnut spread and cream cheese while topped with our decadent caramel sauce. And because I love eggs I got three wrecked with cheese.
And the wait began. This was not all that absurd considering I was with the wife and kids – so a four-top and they had a pretty full restaurant. But the wait was more than I would have expected for a breakfast cafe.
Once the food arrived I immediately noted that the portion size was not as large on my plate as what appeared on the menu. The French toast was nicely caramelized and the flavour was good, but the cream cheese was hardly noticeable and the caramel sauce almost over-powered any other flavours. As for my scrambled eggs with cheese, it was more like they softly scrambled them and then threw the cheese on top because they forgot.
Selection: Their specific Gluten Sensitive section consisted of about six menu items specifically designed to be GF. That said, for the most part, we all know most raw ingredients without seasoning, IE scrambled eggs or fruit plates, should be gluten free. It really is all of what you are comfortable with and how much you want to pester the staff for answers.
Service: Despite the wait for the food, our server was attentive and I had trouble telling them not to fill up my coffee every time they came by.
Price: This was one of those places that I left feeling like I could have made the same breakfast for about half the prize and been full!
Spicy Ending: This restaurant would be decent for someone who is cautious and willing to try the Gluten Sensitive options. And if your family doesn’t have to worry about that or about the over-priced menu, then this is a great place for the family and kids.
You may have noticed a few changes to the site. I’ve tried to update the feel and look a bit – I hope you like it!
And keeping with the New Year (yeah, I realize I’m a little late), you will be seeing some other changes/additions coming over the next few weeks. I’ve got more recipes coming up along with a new category of content: reviews! I will be reviewing restaurants, both chain restaurants and those restaurants specific to Saskatoon, as well as product reviews.
Seeing as how I shop (and live in Canada), I will also be re-visiting all my recipes to add in the metric measurements for your convenience.
Stay tuned! And as always, It’s Never Too Hot in the Kitchen unless there’s Gluten!
This is something I had to repost thanks to @Celiacdotorg … http://digital.turn-page.com/i/372121/34. The article explains how sometimes a simple tummyache has the potential to be more with just parent that has been diagnosed as having Celiac’s Disease.
I know it is definitely something I will be watching for from here on out!