The Wooden Shoe is far and away the best place to have a gluten free brunch in Vancouver (and probably British Columbia, and probably Canada for that matter). I really can’t recommend it enough- it looks kind of like an old mini golf (very unpretentious), and they have the strangest menu you will ever read. When you walk in you will say to yourself “wow, how does a place like this stay open?” because it is a bit truck-stoppy, but when you leave you will realize that it is a Vancouver institution and you were just uninformed. Once you are a regular they take your picture and put it up on the wall with the 2000 other regulars (We were inducted just this weekend- check back in a year to see if they’ve put it up. They said it takes them a really long time to get them printed, mount them all on little white pieces of paper, and then think of captions like “delicious!” because they don’t know the names of the people in the photos anymore… because they were taken a year before).
Obviously their house specialty is the pannekoek. Their gluten free ones are square and come on different plates than the regular ones (also the regular ones are round). You can get pretty much any kind of vietnamese food you like on top of your pannekoek, which both Daniel and I find very weird and we will probably never be brave enough to try. Because if we tried a weird one, with pad thai or nasi goreng or whatever on top, then we are forfeiting our opportunity for that day to order a really delicious sweet one (and while I think we will both go pretty far in the name of good comedy, neither of us are going to order a joke pannekoek). The best topping you can get is grilled bananas. As you can see I have included chocolate sauce and whipped cream for good measure. Daniel takes it a step further and gets butter to go UNDERNEATH his whipped cream. We are both going to die early, milkfat-induced deaths. You throw on a side of spek (dutch bacon) and bob’s your uncle.
And yes, I have a hot chocolate with that. I have the diet of a Christmas elf.
Today for brunch Daniel and I were all excited (mostly I was excited) to go try the Parker, which supposedly serves gluten-free waffles. I have googled “gluten free waffles in vancouver” (and about a thousand other combinations of those words) and never found anything, so when I read about the Parker being very celiac-friend and having these waffles I wanted to go to there STAT. So of course we go there this morning and they don’t have them. We sat down and read the menu for ten seconds (maybe 5 seconds actually, there were three things on the menu), and then I remembered that we didn’t put any money in the meter (something we do basically anytime that we park anywhere). I saw this as our opportunity to bounce, as Daniel would say, so I said I would run out and put change in the meter, but when I said this I gave him the “eye,” thinking that he would know to interpret that as the eye that meant “lets go somewhere else.” Instead of that happening I just stood outside for a couple minutes before he must have thought I’d been mugged, because then he came rushing out with his coat and then agreed that we should in fact bounce. He said that he didn’t know that I was trying to run away, and when he finally did he (politely) said to the server, “she really wanted those waffles… I don’t think she’s coming back.” The short version of this story is that we ended up trying Deacon’s Corner, around the corner, and that it was just a cute little old-timey diner that served up such stupidly humongous breakfasts that Daniel and I shared one, and it was possibly the grossest choice he could have made (he would tell you it was excellent). For like $15 bucks we ordered the “extravagant chicken” or something and it came with: a huge piece of fried chicken on a big biscuit with weird (he would say delicious) gravy and a bowl of grits, two eggs and hashbrowns. Throw on a side of bacon and a bowl of fruit and we ate the whole thing. I am generally weary of these little greasy spoon places, especially since I usually always end up getting bacon and eggs, but then again I throw caution to the wind basically every weekend and I’m alive to tell the tale. I didn’t get sick at all, and we had a very nice time. It is quite the popular little joint and I would recommend it if you are feeling not quite hip enough for the Wallflower but cooler than Sunshine Diner.
verdict: It may get thrown into the ‘Shoe rotation. Very economical! The waitress was super nice and put up with all of my crap (went into the kitchen to tell them to be careful, brought us another plate of bacon when she accidentally put it all on top of Daniel’s biscuit, etc). He tipped her well so hopefully we can go again… because we can’t go back to the Parker.
Most weekends Daniel and I have brunch somewhere, either saturday or sunday, and we don’t get to where we’re going until noon. Our favourite place to go is the Wooden Shoe on Cambie and 17th because they have gfree pannekoeken with grilled bananas and whipped cream, but sometimes we feel the need to spice things up. The wallflower is definitely for the hip, but we go there anyways because I can pretty much have anything on the menu except for the waffles (the thing I really want). They offer a bunch of different kinds of bennys, but when I asked the girl she said they dont have gfree english muffins, just gfree bread. I had the traditional breakfast and it was ok, not amazing. The bread turned out to be the best part and if I had to guess I’d say it was those little kinnickinnick pizza crusts you can get in the frozen section of safeway. It’s a very quaint little treat to have toast in a restaurant. Next weekend we will be back at the Shoe.
Verdict: It’s definitely a safe place to go and there’s tons of stuff to try. The fried chicken and potato plate I had last time was better than the breakfast. Daniel had a crabcake benny that he could have taken or left. I guess I’m not selling it that hard.