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Dec 17, 2012 09:12 AM

Dining with kidney disease

I'd like to take my father out for his birthday somewhere nice, but he has pretty serious kidney disease and has some specific dietary requirements. Does anyone know of a good restaurant in the GTA that may be able to cater to this?


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  1. Having been there; done that, can you contact his doctor & ask if having one birthday dinner where he can order whatever he wants would really throw things out of kilter all that much?

    1. Thanks for your reply Bacardi.

      His is pretty serious and advanced - so we don't really want to chance it too much. That being said a dinner out wouldn't kill him but we still want to be cautious and avoid some major no-no's like too much sodium, potassium and phosphorous...

      2 Replies
      1. re: jen_is_working

        It is a tough one in terms of a specific restaurant as sodium, potassium and phos are in so many foods. Assuming your friend has had counselling from a RD, he should know what his goals are in terms of specific foods and how much he needs to restrict. I may be one myself, but I can't exactly get into specifics online lol Having said that, I can offer some suggestions for specific cuisines.
        You may be able to go with sushi IF he goes mainly for the vegetarian (cucumber and mushrooms are low in K, but too much fish will be high in Phos) and avoids the soy sauce all together- I know, kind of a challenge but the thing I like about sushi is there arent any "unknowns" going on. Its relatively unprocessed etc.
        Any of the more "health" geared places may work b/c you could choose a salad as the star so that the protein portion wasn't too outrageous and again, there wouldn't be too much added sodium.
        Pizza/pasta is a bad idea (tomatoes= high in K)
        You could go for a more steakhouse option as long as they had non-potato side options and stuck with the smallest meat portion available.
        French might work too, if you find a spot with a large enough menu to play with (ie. le select), again avoiding the potato frites options and anything with excess sauce (high sodium).
        I would avoid thai/chinese because of the sodium.

        I am sorry I cant be more helpful with specific restaurants. To my knowledge, there isnt any restaurants catering specifically to renal disease so its about choosing the spots with the best options and ingredients.

        1. re: jen_is_working

          I don't know of any places that would cater to kidney disease, but it might be easier to order at some places than at others.

          When I've dined out with someone who has had kidney disease, it was mostly about portion control. It might be easier to order at a tapas/mezes or small plates place, because the protein portions tend to be small, and it's easier to avoid potassium heavy dishes since everything is ordered a la carte. The problem with tapas and mezes is that they tend to be high salt.

          Going to an Italian restaurant, and ordering the secondi with contorni (protein with side dishes), is another way you could try to control portions.

          Zucca (ordering secondi and contorni instead of a pasta) or Mezes (where you can make a meal of mezes/share plates) might work. Tabule might work, if you could ask them to cut down on salt. Perhaps you could call a restaurant in advance, to ask if they'd prepare a no salt or low salt meal for your father.

          Another idea might be a French or Continental restaurant where chicken breast or seafood can be ordered, with vegetable side dishes.

          I'd think Splendido or Scaramouche would do a custom low salt, low potassium, low protein meal, if arranged in advance.

          Sodium is hard to avoid, but you could always ask whichever restaurant you visit to cut back or omit the salt in various dishes, or to ask the Chef which dishes contain the least salt.

          The only restaurants I've found to be low salt in Toronto are Live, Mocha Mocha and Fresh, but all 3 are health food restaurants that probably wouldn't appeal to your father for his birthday dinner. I haven't liked the food at Live, Mocha Mocha or Fresh. Glow has lower calorie, carefully portioned meals, but the food was awful at the out-of-my-control dinner I experienced last month.

          Four Restaurant also has carefully portioned meals, which might make it easier to watch sodium, potassium and protein levels. Out of the health focused restaurants, it might be your best bet. I've never been.

        2. Are you averse to vegetarian? Live Organic Food Bar is nicer than most and better food, much of it raw.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MissBingBing

            All you need to be careful about with vegetarian is the beans/legumes which are high in phosphorus, and of course, the specific vegetables that are high in potassium.

          2. Thanks so far for the helpful responses! It's given me some really good ideas and I'm very appreciative.

            My father will be going for a transplant operation in several months and we are worried about him. His food choices are always so limited now that I know he gets bored with what he is "allowed" to eat. Hard for a guy who has always really liked his food! Just wanted the chance to take him out so he could have a really good meal he could enjoy and that wouldn't be too dangerous either.

            Thanks everyone!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jen_is_working

              What about a Mediterranean restaurant that offers the freshest catch of the day? Would your dad be interested in very simply grilled fresh fish with olive oil? With a little advance research, you could isolate a handful of potential vegetable sides or salad ingredients he could enjoy, along with some fresh white bread. Any good kitchen will respect the low/no salt request and perhaps offer high-taste-low-salt seasoning options to keep your dad's spirits up during this difficult time. Joso's is an expensive suggestion, as well as Chiado and Aria. I've had fresh, whole fish at Vittorio's, Rodney's, Starfish and Zucca.

            2. The first question I'd be asking your father is does he really want to be taken out for dinner. Sometimes a person with highly critical special dietary needs doesn't want to for one reason or another. Make sure its what he really desires.

              The second question is what are his favourite foods? Many times a diet is as simple as adjusting quantities or tweaking a few ingredients in the dishes you already love.

              From what's been said so far, I can only see that Caribbean food should be avoided. Is it just high sodium, potasium, and phosphorous that you need to drive around?

              I agree with Prima that, with the preliminary information you've given so far, Scaramouche would be your best shot at having a great, low-risk dinner. Make sure you give them ample notice when reserving.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Googs

                Thanks, I think I'll call Scaramouche and see what they say...and as for wanting to go for dinner, it's what he asked for actually! I'm just trying to figure something out that will be considerate of his dietary requirements.

                And yes, those are the three biggies (potassium, phosphorous, sodium especially).

                1. re: jen_is_working

                  I'm glad your dad doesn't let it hold him back from having dinner out. What does he like to eat?

                  1. re: Googs

                    Some pretty basic things like good meats; steaks, veal, lamb, etc. and also potatoes, though he shouldn't be eating them now because I believe they are high in phosphorus... He likes pasta, but cream and tomato sauces are not the best for him now either. And usually he'd pick meat over pasta anyway. He likes seafood too, particularly shellfish, not so much fish.

                    1. re: jen_is_working

                      Then yeah, you'll make out like a bandit at Scaramouche. Lucky thing butter seems to be okay.

                      I'm trying to think of one good Spanish restaurant as an alternative to French. Your father may not miss the potato so much is there are other interesting sides .Any takers out there? Sure, Cava and again you can call to tailor for your needs, but its tapas which may not appeal nor is the decor particularly celebration worthy.