Friday, May 21, 2010

AVOID gluten free dining at THE SILO, Lake Bluff

So this restaurant has been around a long time. They have a big banner out in front announcing gluten free pizza. We were in Libertyville, so decided to give this a try. My husband had called ahead just to confirm that they did, indeed have gluten free pizza, but other than that I had not done any prior research.

My first clue about problems to come was that our waitress insisted that the GF crust is made in house, she insisted "we make all our own dough". Upon my insistence she did check further and reported that the crusts are bought pre-made. I have a real problem with a restaurant offering to serve the GF community but not educating the staff about what is offered.

When my husband had called earlier he had been told that the potato skins could be made GF. Again, the waitress did not know about such things, but we learned (after insisting she ask) that we could order them with only cheese and they would be baked rather than fried. They were good, the kids enjoyed them.

We ordered 3 pizzas- 2 cheese and 1 mushroom. Once the pizza was served and we started eating I noticed that the mushroom pizza was cut differently than the 2 cheese and a few minutes later I noticed that the mushroom pizza was not in the same disposable tin as the 2 cheese-- can you see where this is going?

The waitress confirmed we had not been served 3 GF pizzas- her comment?? "Oh, they grabbed the wrong one." The manager came over and offered to replace the pizza, not having ANY IDEA about the health ramifications of serving a gluten pizza to GF diners. Then the owner came over, LARRY PIKE, and he brought with him the order ticket. His comment?? "You only ordered 2 of the pizzas gluten free" !?$*&#$(^*(^*$!! He had absolutely no idea the risk associated with this pizza being at our table. Thankfully, we had served my son only the GF pizza, although I was eating the gluten pizza and then touching his pizza to cut it and help him eat, so there was a huge risk of cross-contamination. Larry offered to replace the pizza and then offered to comp our meal. He had no concept of the absoluteness that comes with a gluten free diet. I asked him for his business card and he did not even bring it to me himself- gave it to the waitress to bring over.

I heard from a woman at a local gluten intolerance group that she also had problems there and that she had seen the box the crusts come in and the box noted wheat in the ingredients...

I did further research after our visit and learned that The Silo orders the crusts from The French Meadow Bakery in Minnesota (they are good crusts) and that they arrive frozen in their own tins. I also learned that the sauce used on the gf crusts is kept separate to minimize cross contamination risk, but that toppings are from a communal bin and there is risk.

My HUGE COMPLAINT here is that Larry Pike is trying to gain a share of the gluten free dining dollar without assuming the responsibility that comes with safely feeding us. Advertising gluten free crusts on a big banner posted along a busy street will definitely bring in business. But serving the gluten intolerant community means taking the necessary steps to minimize risk as much as possible and that starts with education -- in this case neither the owner, nor the manager nor our waitress had any education about how to do so. My strong recommendation is not to risk your health -- avoid dining here. (

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gluten free Red Robin

I cannot believe that we have not been here sooner! The Red Robin chain has multiple special needs menus- free of dairy, eggs, nuts, and others. And for us, a wheat/gluten allergy menu. We ate twice at the restaurant in Lincolnshire and both times the hostess immediately pulled out the special menus for us. Our servers each time knew how to modify our orders and I did not need to repeat for them the special directions noted on the GF menu.

French fries are a big issue for us- what 2 year old does not like french fries?? Red Robin has a dedicated fryer and the fries themselves are gf. They do have a seasoning that goes after frying that must be avoided. BUT here's the warning- the menu notes that some Red Robin's may use the fryer for non-GF items so you may need to check with your particular location. I brought a bun for my son and he so happy with his cheeseburger and fries. I had my burger "protein style" which means that it was wrapped in some oversized wedges of iceberg and then rolled up in wax paper to make eating it easier. I liked the protein style better that using a Schar's bun and with the paper wrapper it was very easy to eat.

The menu does not include any gf dessert options but I did review the ingredients in the vanilla ice cream and we did opt to order an ice cream sundae (ice cream, syrup, whipped cream).

Also included on the gf menu are a few salads (although you lose a lot of integral ingredients), chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, salmon, various side dishes including french fries. If you sign up online for the frequent diner program they will send you a coupon to use at your first visit.

The only Lake County location is in Lincolnshire although there are a bunch of other sites throughout Chicagoland.