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I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty much always on the lookout for allergy-friendly restaurants in the city. So it’s not often that I go out to eat without having done a bit of research in advance. But the day I headed to Parkdale’s Kitten and the Bear I had done no such thing.
I guess it was because I knew I’d be going minus my food-allergic kiddo and, not having much time to go out sans child these days, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get there again. A quick glance at the website might lead you to believe it’s the type of place you’d only frequent for special occasions.
On this particular occasion, I was catching up with an old co-worker, and this quaint little spot happened to be the perfect halfway point. Not only that, but I’d already heard that it was a must-visit. So I put away my frugal side, and said “I’m in!”
I headed over without any thoughts or expectations regarding food allergy accommodation. But when I got there, breathed in the scent of fresh scones, and took in how ridiculously cute the spot is, I knew I’d want to go back before even ordering. That’s when the food allergy mama in me kicked in.
I decided to ask the friendly young woman behind the counter what their scones were made of, explaining that my little one had 6+ food allergies.
The moment she heard the term “food allergies,” she offered to go and get the head baker so that he could provide me with accurate answers to my questions. This simple little act demonstrated to me that Kitten and the Bear takes food allergies seriously. No empty promises or I don’t think sos here. No frustrated sighs. I was already impressed.
Even so, I didn’t expect to hear good news. My son’s combination of allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, egg, sesame, soy, sunflower) makes it virtually impossible for him to eat most bought baked goods. If it isn’t the fact that a bakery produces sesame bagels, or that the flour comes with a “may contain soy” warning, it’s the sunflower oil that most healthy/organic bakeries insist on using these days. It’s always something.
Having gone in with zero expectations, I was shocked when the baker told me his shop was free of all but one of my son’s allergens: egg. So while I couldn’t order him a freshly made scone (due to an egg glaze they spread on top), he assured me I could safely buy a batch of their frozen scones.
Because the glaze is added directly before placing the scones in the oven, I simply have to leave that step out, making them safe for my son to eat. And they even provided me with an alternative to the egg: Simply swipe the top of the scone with water, followed by a sprinkle of sugar, and you’re good to go.
I’ve since bought the package of frozen scones twice (great for serving overnight guests something special, or for family events when you want to bring something yummy and safe), and they’ve been a huge hit with everyone so far. (Being a cinnamon lover, I tried using cinnamon sugar for the second batch, and let’s just say my little guy adored the hint of “ci-ma-nim” on top. So did I!)
That said, true to my first impression, I still think Kitten and the Bear is a great option for special occasions or special gifts. In fact, I bought my grandmother a package of their beautiful jams for her 98th birthday. Not surprisingly, she loved them. (And she’s not easy to please these days, so that’s saying a lot!)
Just a note that the venue is pretty cozy, which means they only have space to accommodate two tables. Make sure that you head over with back-up plans in case they can’t seat you. In the case of my ‘co-worker catch-up,’ we grabbed ourselves a freshly baked scone each, some sinfully delicious clotted cream, and some of the best tea I’ve ever had… and happily caught up at a nearby park.
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.
Friendly. Supportive. Encouraging.
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