Zero8 Resto-Bar, free of ALL “Big 8” allergens… and then some!
Close followers of the AllergyEats Blog and AllergyEats Facebook page have probably detected that I’m an intense hockey fanatic. Originally from the New York area, I have retained my allegiance to the New York Rangers, much to the chagrin of my friends here in Boston. I have also brainwashed my children into sharing my passion for all things hockey and Rangers.
Recently, during a 3-day holiday weekend, my two oldest sons (both of whom have food allergies – peanut/tree nut and peanut/tree nut/dairy/egg/sesame) embarked with my father and I on an exciting boys hockey weekend in Canada. Our first stop was to be Toronto, where we would visit the hockey Hall of Fame and Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant before watching our beloved Rangers take on the Maple Leafs. On the next day, we would follow the Rangers to Montreal where they would play the Candians.
I was a little extra enthusiastic about this trip because I knew I’d finally get a chance to try an exciting new allergy-friendly restaurant in Montreal that I’ve heard a lot about called Zero8. (I would’ve loved to have taken my kids to a Moxie’s in Toronto as well, but the day was full. See my prior AllergyEats Blog post about Moxie’s here.)
I have read a lot about Zero8. Situated in the heart of Montreal’s Latin Quarter, its name comes from the fact that NOTHING on the menu has ANY of the “Big 8” allergens (or gluten, sesame, and sulfites either). They don’t even keep these products on the premises! (I recently wrote about a similar restaurant in Seattle called Graces 5 – Introducing the restaurant we’ve been waiting for… Graces5. I hope it’s catching on!) Oddly enough, I didn’t see anything prominent on Zero8’s signage, inside or outside, emphasizing their food allergy friendliness – the restaurant just seemed to blend in with all the others. Maybe they’re concerned that people without food allergies will think the food is bland or “weird” somehow. I didn’t think to ask, but I can see that logic.
So, you ask, how was the experience?
Without a doubt, the most memorable thing about this experience was that my sons were able to order ANYTHING off of the ENTIRE menu! I still asked about allergens anyway, but I can’t tell you how exciting it was for me to watch my kids trying to decide what to order amongst a menu of about 35 items! Fantastic!
I must say that the menu is quite “unique” and not necessarily the most exciting or kid-friendly (view it here), though it does have options children are familiar with. In fact, ¼ of the menu is devoted to building your own fries… and that’s NOT the kids’ menu!
My father and I (neither of whom have food allergies) both found the food a little on the bland side, but certainly not bad by any means. He started with chickpea bread and had a chicken sandwich plus fries in the Zero8 homemade sauce as his entree. I started with bruschetta and had a very basic tagliatelle in tomato and basilic sauce.
Neither of my kids called the food bland; in fact, they both enjoyed their meal very much! They didn’t exactly test the boundaries of a gourmet dinner, both opting for bruschetta and chicken drumsticks with fries (I guess it’s hard to leave the one you love), but my younger son wouldn’t have been able to order this elsewhere given the likelihood of egg in the recipe. Most important of all, however, was the large number of safe choices they had, allowing them to truly enjoy a real dining experience!
I commend Zero8, and sincerely thank them, for creating a restaurant that allows my children to experience what 95% of the population takes for granted! And while I would suggest that this restaurant is probably best suited for the adult food-allergic clientele, I guarantee that I WILL be back the next time I’m in Montreal with my children!
Oh… and outside of the stinker we watched the Rangers play in Montreal, the rest of the trip was great too!
So what do you think? How does Zero8 sound to you? Have any of you been to Zero8? Are there restaurants like it that I’m not aware of? Please click Comment or Reply below to share your thoughts.
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