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Good hospital food?

Sometimes you find gems in the most unlikely places. The "On the Way Cafe" at Mount Sinai Hospital serves the most unbelievably delicious coconut chicken soup - to die for! I would love to make it at home. Have I hit rock bottom wanting to duplicate hospital food?

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  1. Mitzi....... Heelllllooo! you can probably guess who I am.

    Yes truly you have hit rock bottom looking for good food in hospitals ;)

    I recall Kingston General Hospital having a decent salad bar and it got me through many lunches. I used to load up on the fried chicken which were pretty good for cafeteria food.

    7 Replies
    1. re: doctorandchef

      I spent some time in St. Joseph's...as a patient the food is prepared offsite interestingly enough (better than some but that's not saying a lot LOL!!) but as a visitor, the Cafe is reasonably well made and always fresh. At Baycrest where I volunteer they have a Chicken Gumbo soup that is AMAZING, honestly it's so good I bring containers home quite frequently...I have no idea when (which days and when..seems to be rotated between dairy & meat days) I thought I would have it today since I thought that it would be the daily soup( I thought because it was Wednesday but it wasn't, it was a however , a 'meat' day but they had some other kind of Chicken soup...will try to find out the schedule. It is fantastic!! lots of chicken, lots of Okra and thick enough to stand a spoon upright!!

      1. re: pearlD

        I'll have to try it. My FIL is in Baycrest Apotex so hopefully I'll catch the gumbo on a visit day!

        1. re: pearlD

          The cafeteria at St. Joseph's surprisingly makes a pretty good beef vindaloo, butter chicken with biryani, tandoori chicken wings and daal .

          1. re: pearlD

            Ugh, I was visiting an elderly friend at St-Joseph's who was having trouble agreeing to eat due to her illness. While I was there she was served the most disgusting tomato-beef-elbow macaroni mess I have ever seen. I would have have refused it too!

            I hope it's better on other days, from what you say.

            1. re: FrenchSoda

              That's unfortunate since I would have told you to stay away from the pastas. As mentioned, for some strange reason, the Indian choices are good.

                1. re: FrenchSoda

                  And for some reason, I find the french fries served at St. Joe's (Toronto) cafeteria to be surprisingly good!

                  At Women's College, there's a little sandwich shop across the street which has a really tasty "Wicked Thai Soup" served on Thursday's. Yummy.

        2. The Shouldice in Richmond Hill has really good food. But I guess it doesn't count. ;->

          8 Replies
          1. re: JamieK

            The gravy and Shepherds pie of Richmond Hill's York central was pretty good too!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Hmmmm... I had heard the same about Shouldice!

              I am in there in a couple of weeks.


              1. re: Non Doctor

                yeah, it wasn't bad at all, the fish was quite good. But there will be no wine pairings there for you, my friend!

                But in compensation, after you start moving a little faster than the infamous "Shouldice shuffle", you can enjoy a game of pool or shoot nine holes.

                1. re: JamieK

                  Well... I was discharged from the Shouldice yesterday and documented the food as best I could for you:

                  Cod, Peas, Carrots and Mashed Potato...


                  Mustard Glazed Chicken, Beans and Basmati Rice.


                  Beef (???), Roast Potato and Corn...


                  Vegetable Pasta and Ceasar Salad


                  I have to be quite honest and say that I cleaned every plate... it had been many a year since I had tasted instant mashed potatoes... they have a very particular taste to them.

                  The staff were super-friendly too.

                  I'd probably recommend that you don't look at the other more visceral pictures though...

                  I'm feeling much better now thank you...

                  1. re: Non Doctor

                    That's the nicest hospital food I have ever seen. And let me be the first to say... "ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!"

                    1. re: Non Doctor

                      I love it! Only a foodie would photograph his meals while recovering from surgery. I'm glad you are feeling better.
                      I have to say, I've never seen hospital food look so good.

                      1. re: Non Doctor

                        I was going to say that that doesn't look all that bad! I wish I'd been served food like that last time I was in the hospital. My friends brought me in meals so I wouldn't have to eat the slop they presented.

                        1. re: Non Doctor

                          Wow, there's actually a hospital out there serving food someone could get better on...

                2. I have to give thumbs up to the new hospital in Brampton..Brampton Civic. Good cafeteria food-and they have a Tim Hortons.

                  1. My husband raves about the hospital food at the Hospital near Western in London, On. He ate there often as a law-school student. Of course, it could have also been due to his student budget.

                    I think that when hospitalized, the strangest things taste delicious. I remember being in labour and eating ice chips (I know, a cliche) and loving them and thinking that I should make these as a low-fat, low-cal summer treat when this is all over...


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                      Ha... I know where you are coming from Toronto Fastfoodie!

                    2. There's "hospital food" and then there's food found in a hospital -- and there can be a vast difference between the two. Having had friends, family members and acquaintances all experience hospital food (as in what's fed to patients) in the past year, I'd have to say that it's next to impossible to find even decent patient food in a regular hospital (private hospitals or senior homes can be exceptions). In my limited research, I've learned that cost cutting has hit this area very hard, and the quality of the food has nosedived.

                      Retail food outlets found within hospitals (and even cafeterias) are handled quite differently. The quality can sometimes be fairly good, but the prices have probably gone up a lot over the years in order to keep that possible.

                      I'm confused about some of the posts in this thread. It's hard to tell at times whether the poster is describing visitor food purchased in a hospital, or patient meals.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: CeeQueue

                        Mine were certainly the latter... patient meals.

                        And the Shouldice Clinic is not (theoretically) a private hospital... I had no idea about all of that stuff until I Wikipedia'd it last night.

                        1. re: Non Doctor

                          Yes, you're right. I didn't know that until I looked through your Flickr photostream and saw the mention that it's covered by OHIP. You don't find many hospitals with golf and billiards, though, so I'm thinking it falls into a category of its own.

                      2. Hospital cafeterias are so variable. The few I have been in were adequate, especially since the alternative was some fast food joint around the corner.

                        When I was a starving student in the late 1960s, i saved a ton of money by eating at Toronto General. Pretty good food, cheap prices (big baked potatoes with gobs of butter all for a nickel total). It was all subsidized (this was the sixties, remember), and you had to be prepared to lie if they asked you who you were visiting. The TGH location I ate at was for doctors and staff and visitors to patients.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Dean Tudor

                          I know St. Joe's and there is a chef that's been on board for about 3 or 4 years now who used to work in a restaurant downtown, I believe on Front St (can't remember the name now). As well, there is another chef who I believe is Indian which explains the Indian food. The food has drastically improved since the chef came on board from what it was and he is always willing to try new dishes. Don't forget, making a meal for 300 patients who all require something different can be difficult.

                          1. re: maryfran

                            Sounds like a good, decent-sized restaurant on any night. Should be doable.

                            I don't expect gourmet, but I was shocked when my father-in-law had a quadruple bypass lately, and his food was mostly made up of starches, proteins, and salt. This is for a man who has kidney problems and high blood pressure. It was seriously lacking in veggies, never mind flavour.

                            1. re: Full tummy

                              My mother was on the diabetic diet at Centenary in Scarborough, and was given breakfasts with white bread, regular jam AND fruit juice, with only sweetened yogurt as a protein source; dinners with two or three starches (rice, bread and corn, for instance) and sugary sauces (e.g. sweet and sour) and too little protein. Her blood sugar was too high the whole time she was in there until she started letting us smuggle in real food. Most of the dinner entrees were so disgusting she often only picked at them.

                              1. re: CeeQueue

                                That is horrific; menus may be low fat, but that is the only nutritional concern hospital kitchens seem to have, aside from cost and ease of preparation.

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  Due to labor cost challenges most hospitals now rely on "outsourced" , i.e. prepared chilled or frozen foods from processors like Nestles and Marsan, who makes a lot of the frozen PC meals.

                                  1. re: iamafoodie

                                    I'd have been happy to see something equivalent to a frozen PC meal, but these were below No Name quality, as far as I could tell (and based on my mother's reactions to them). Possibly they are way overcooked by the time they reach the patient, which renders everything a glutinous mess. And certainly all of that stuff has way too much salt for anyone needing to reduce their salt intake.

                                    The apologetic nursing assistants mentioned that nothing is prepared in-house anymore. I guess if there's no budget, there's little likelihood of coming up with something healthy and tasty. I saw so many family members of patients heating up homecooked meals in the microwave on my mother's floor. I'm sure they count on that to fill in the gap. My mother stubbornly refused to let us bring anything for the first week because she wanted to see how she would do on what the hospital considered a proper diabetic diet (yeah right), and because her blood sugar had spiked after her surgery. Once she had food from home her levels normalized again. Sad, really, but seems to be a fact of life these days.

                                    1. re: CeeQueue

                                      The nurses in my father-in-law's unit were also embarrassed since it was a cardiac ward and the meals had basically nothing healthy in them... One of them commented that there should be more access to fresh fruits and veggies...

                                    2. re: iamafoodie

                                      I was told when I was a patient at St. Joe's('06 & '07) that none of the patient's food is made on site, it's all brought in from 'purveyors to industry...the good tasting food is in the Cafeteria/Cafe and it is freshly made, not cheap but very good. I think that the days of eating cheaply in Cafeteria's (Hospitals/Department Stores and the like) is long past.

                          2. from what i heard, some hospitals in toronto (including north york general) are switching food catering companies from september onwards. supposedly the "new" food is fresher and better quality (as one worker who sampled the food described it: "the chicken is ACTUALLY CHICKEN!")

                            note that this is food for hospital patients only. i had a brief stay at NYG and was told there was to be a menu switch in the future.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: goldendelicious

                              Wow...that'll be good news if it happens.