This allergy-friendly restaurant review was written by AllergyBites founder, Kathleen O’Hagan. Kathleen is a writer, a foodie, and the mom of a toddler with multiple food allergies. She loves seeking out accommodating eating spots and sharing them with the food allergy community. All opinions are her own.
When posts about the newly opened Drake Commissary first hit my newsfeed, I couldn’t believe it. It was probably the coolest thing to move into the neighbourhood in years. And yet, I had just moved out.
A cozy space to get some work done. An eclectic menu featuring dishes that can only delight the senses. Friendly staff that is unbelievably accommodating to food allergies. And a 5-minute walk from my previous home. (Argh.)
Drake Commissary is exactly what I need in my life right now. Minus the longer commute.
The thing is, a quick Google search or a look at their website wouldn’t clue you in to the fact that this one-of-a-kind eating spot is really, really allergy-friendly. I had to do a bit of investigating to find out.
The first time I popped in to take a look, I chatted with the friendly hostess and asked her the usual ‘allergy parent’ questions. She didn’t miss a beat when she told me that the kitchen could absolutely prepare meals minus top allergens, and only hesitated a bit when I admitted my son had 6+ to deal with. Because she wasn’t 100% sure and didn’t want to make any promises she couldn’t keep, she suggested I speak with management to confirm.
After getting in touch with the Food & Beverage Supervisor via email (and assuring him that I’d be happy if even one of their dishes were safe for my little guy), I was absolutely floored when he told me that at least 8 of their dishes were safe as is, and that they could play around with others to make sure they were free of my son’s allergens.
8 safe meals for my kid with 6+ food allergies?! Now this was a first.
It seemed too good to be true, so I asked him if he could share what ingredients were in my top 3 choices. He promptly did, polite as ever.
Then it hit me that 2 of the 3 dishes had a bread product in them. (Red flag! Wouldn’t they contain egg? Or soy?? Or sunflower?!) I was concerned he may not have gone the extra step and double checked the ingredient’s ingredients. But when I followed up to ask, he sent me the lists, and assured me they were indeed safe: “We proudly bake every last one of our breads, pastries and other baked goods in-house, daily.”
You know what that means? They know what’s in the bread.
Of course, I had to ask about the risk of cross contamination next. He let me know that I need not worry unless my son’s allergies are airborne (which they aren’t). Score!
“Our protocol is to prep, plate and send these dishes from fresh & clean stations with clean hands, but peanuts, egg, sesame, soy and sunflower are always present on-site,” he explained. “We make a smoothie behind the bar that contains peanut butter, and we’d take the same precautions, but that peanut butter scent may be airborne.”
Here’s the other thing about Drake Commissary. You can’t help but feel safe when every single person you are dealing with—from the faceless person over email to the friendly host that greets you to your smiling server—all of them are able to properly list your child’s allergies and assure you that they are not in the foods in question.
Just make sure to call a few days beforehand and let them know about your child’s allergies. That way, they can make sure to have a safe space to prep in advance of your visit. (I can’t guarantee that they’d be as accommodating with walk-ins, but I’m sure they’d do their very best to find something safe for your food-allergic child.)
All I can say about my experience at Drake Commissary is WOW. Now if only my toddler would learn to appreciate gourmet food. But that’s another story…
Below is a list of the 8 menu items* that are safe for my son to eat. He’s allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, egg, sesame, soy and sunflower.
1. Avocado, Lemon and Gruyere Tartine
2. Freekeh, Quinoa & Broccoli
3. Zucchini, Asparagus & Pea Salad
4. Margherita Pizza
5. Wild Mushroom Ragout & Espresso Pasta
6. Veggie Side: Smoked Baby Potatoes
7. Dessert: Strawberry Sorbet
8. Fresh squeezed juices
*Keep in mind that I specifically asked about these dishes, so there may be additional menu items that are safe.
I feel the need to mention that I went to Drake Commissary with my Foodie Club one evening and we absolutely loved the following dishes. NOTE: As none of us has food allergies, I can’t say with certainty whether or not these dishes are free of the allergens listed above.
1. Roasted mushroom and espresso pasta
2. Miso cauliflower
3. House smoked spicy brisket
4. Rotisserie jerk chicken
5. House cured charcuterie & meats
6. Banana cream pie
7. House-made scones
Friendly. Supportive. Encouraging.
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Restaurants that appear on AllergyBites may have updated their menu or changed management since a review was posted. Please confirm that they are still allergy-friendly & that menu items don’t contain your allergen(s) before visiting or placing your order.