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. (

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