‘Take your pick’: The Griffin Takeaway offers variety for those who avoid gluten

In collaboration with CBC Radio Saskatoon Morningwriter Naomi Hansen explores the stories behind Saskatoon’s restaurants.

Monster cookies, savory scones, pastries drizzled with chocolate, and cupcakes topped with colorful swirls of icing: for someone avoiding gluten, these are usually digestive disasters.

But if you grab these treats from the Griffin Takeaway in Saskatoon, you can eat them easily.

“People are constantly saying, ‘What’s gluten-free?’ and we say “everything”, and they [point at the display case] and go, ‘This? And this one ? And that?’ And we say, ‘Yeah, it’s still gluten-free!’ “said Nicole Barr, co-owner of The Griffin Takeaway (located at 741 7th Ave. N.) with her husband, Derek Barr.

Derek and Nicole Barr are husband and wife and co-owners of The Griffin Takeaway. They met while working at Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery in Saskatoon. (Naomi Hansen)

The Griffin Takeaway offers more than 80 items on the menu, including staples such as bread, rolls, a lunch menu, take-out (the chicken pot pie is a customer favourite) and features of the parties, such as pumpkin pie and gingerbread decorating kits.

Choosing what to order can be overwhelming, especially for those with dietary restrictions who are used to having fewer options when dining out.

“A gentleman once cried when he found he could still eat a sandwich,” Nicole said. “I felt really bad for him, but I made him a sandwich and he was so happy.”

Birth of a gluten-free bakery

The Barrs met while working at Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery in Saskatoon, where Derek was sous chef and Nicole worked as head baker.

Although neither of them had a problem eating gluten, they had a close friend with celiac disease and started experimenting with gluten-free recipes.

“We used to all get together for brunch and if you have a celiac in the group you have to cook for them and make it good for everyone too, so that’s where it all started,” he said. said Derek.

The desire to run their own business led them to open The Griffin Takeaway in 2012, initially with gluten-free and gluten-free options on the menu. However, they quickly realized that for customers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, cross-contamination was an issue.

“No one felt comfortable coming here knowing we still had gluten on site,” Nicole said.

A tray of scones with frosting.
The Griffin Takeaway has a monthly scone schedule and offers two different flavors of scones daily: one sweet and one salty. (Naomi Hansen)

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It is estimated that one in 100 to 200 people in North America is affected. For people with celiac disease, even a single gluten-containing crumb can lead to symptoms such as bloating, fatigue and abdominal pain that last for hours or days.

People who do not have celiac disease may also avoid gluten as a food choice or have gluten sensitivity – also called gluten intolerance – which results in symptoms that vary depending on the person’s level of sensitivity and the amount of gluten she consumes.

The Barrs have decided to switch to a strictly gluten-free menu.

Derek said the most common thing they hear now is probably “you can be confident eating here; you don’t have to worry about getting sick”.

The secret of a good gluten-free pastry

Derek said there’s been a lot of trial and error in developing gluten-free recipes, but their secret is in a gluten-free flour mix they make in-house. The mix includes white rice flour and xanthan gum, which is a common stabilizer added to gluten-free baking to mimic the elasticity of gluten. Derek said most recipes translate well to replacing regular flour with the mix.

Also, most of their menu is vegetarian and almost half is vegan.

Medium brown cupcakes with frosting sandwiched in the middle and a dollop on top sit on a wooden board.
About half of The Griffin Takeaway’s items, like these mini carrot cakes (left) and salted peanut brownies (right) are vegan. (Naomi Hansen)

“As a vegetarian, I always felt like there weren’t a ton of places to go for vegetarian food,” Nicole said. “That was 11 years ago and things have changed a lot in the city since then, but I just wanted to have a place where people felt comfortable coming in and eating.”

It has been done. As Saskatoon’s go-to place for all things gluten-free and vegetarian, Derek said they were happy to offer such a wide selection.

“If you’re used to being relegated to [gluten-free or vegan] wherever you go is fine,” he said, “but it’s fine to come in and take your pick. We have it all figured out.”


Back to top button