This allergy-friendly review was written by guest blogger, Shayla Gunter-Goldstein. Shayla is a freelance writer and editor whose writing has been published in Lilith Magazine, Parents Canada and Baby Post, among others. She is also the mom of two boys, and has become an advocate for allergy awareness since her youngest son’s diagnosis. All opinions are her own.
Did you hear the one about the allergy mom whose peanut/tree nut allergic son walked into their local coffee shop and was able to eat almost all of their treats? It’s no joke! I introduce to you the kosher Second Cup in Thornhill. Located in the Springfarm plaza, this place is heaven on earth for many allergy families.
Long before my youngest son came along, my non-allergic older son and I used to enjoy mom and child time at this location, chilling with a Chocolate Chiller or warming up with a hot chocolate once a week or so. The cafe’s proximity to my house, the fact that it was kosher, and being located in a plaza where I had to go shopping anyway, made it an ideal spot for a quick break or snack.
Then, at 11 months, my youngest was diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, eggs and sesame. After the initial devastation and negativity wore off, we started trying to get back to being a normal family again, with normal outings. So imagine my delight when my local haunt began carrying treats from a few kosher bakeries that I knew were safe for my child. At first, it was mini muffins from Amazing Donuts – peanut, tree nut and sesame free. Then it was allergy-friendly selections from Sweets from the Earth. Now, several years later, the wonderful owner at this location has decided to make his café as accommodating to those with allergies as possible. I believe this is unique for a Second Cup in this city.
So why and how did this happen? First, we are very lucky in the Toronto Jewish community when it comes to allergy-friendly bakeries. I’m delighted to say that almost every kosher bakery has jumped on the nut-free bandwagon in the last few years. (I’ll be reviewing some in the near future.) We have so many options and almost all are free of peanuts, tree nuts, and even dairy! (Because most kosher bakeries are “pareve,” which means there is no dairy or meat in a product.)
And the owner carries freshly baked goods from most of these allergy-friendly spots: giant cookies, danishes, croissants and babka/buffalos from Grodzinski’s, large and mini-muffins from Amazing Donuts, pre-packaged cookies and gluten-free brownies from Easy Sweets and Sweets from the Earth, as well as yogurt with nut-free granola and assorted wraps, bagels and sandwiches from Grodzinski’s. In the fresh refrigerated case, you can find cake pops and decadent brownies, that are free of nuts, from Easy Sweets.
It’s important to note that also present at this location are wrapped gluten-free brownies and Nanaimo bars from Sweets from the Earth that are NOT nut-safe, as well as pre-packaged granola bars by Kind that contain nuts, and of course, the Second Cup brand oatmeal with pecans. So while the café cannot guarantee that products with nuts won’t be present (since the pre-packaged items may be opened at a table near you), they are extremely allergy aware and accommodating.
For example, if you tell them that you or your child have allergies, they will immediately wipe down your table to make sure there are no leftover crumbs. And while they do use almond milk for some of their blended drinks, they now have separate, dedicated blenders specifically for drinks that contain almond milk. We had one minor hive incident when they first began using almond milk onsite, but after I mentioned it, they made sure the blenders were separated from that point on. We’ve never had another incident. The owner is also very open to suggestions from customers, and knows most regulars by name. It’s truly a neighbourhood café.
It probably goes without saying that my boys love visiting this Second Cup after school. My little guy with allergies, who is now 8, gets so excited that he can order practically anything he wants and not have to worry. Thankfully, he has mostly grown out of his egg allergy, and his sesame one is very mild. Still, I am pleased to say that he asks the barista to wipe down the table for him before we sit down. The staff is always happy to comply, and they certainly know us by now. We often get a giant cookie and a double chocolate muffin to share between the three of us, and frozen hot chocolates all around.
For an inexpensive after school or Sunday morning outing, the kosher Second Cup is second to none in our books.
This location is closed on the Jewish Sabbath – Friday afternoons from about 3 p.m., through Saturday night. Also closed on major Jewish holidays and fasting days.
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.
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