Idioma / Language: Spanish

Signature Room: a luxury dinner after a lunch with gluten

After two days in Downers Grove (Illinois, USA), that was the last day of the meeting. There were only a couple of conferences left. After lunch, Karl and I had planned to spend the afternoon in Chicago. Compared to the day we arrived, the weather was wonderful.

That day, we got food from Deli Time, the coffee shop in the office complex where we were. That’s where we had eaten the first day and, as I explained to you in the first post about the trip, I had not felt like a place where cross contamination would be well controlled. At least not based on what I saw.

I had ordered an antipasto of Chicken with Vegetable Skewers. None of these foods has gluten. In theory! The dish looked very good and, truth be told, it was delicious. Another indicator that in that cafeteria are not prepared to serve gluten-free food was the dessert: a brownie and a cookie. The chicken dish was labeled “Gluten Free”, but the dessert was not, so I did not eat it. Even so, in the middle of the afternoon I began to feel pain in my stomach.

I had ordered all the meals through a colleague from the Central office in Downers Grove, and she had passed all the information about my allergies and intolerances to all the restaurants. Till then, everything had gone wonderfully. But as we all know… cross-contamination is a very difficult aspect to control. And this time it got out of hand.

Instead of taking the train from the hotel to Chicago, we decided to take a taxi. Upon arrival, the pain had not worsened, but I knew that throughout the afternoon it would… probably the gluten contamination had been small, but I was beginning to notice it. I was getting ready for a bad afternoon! They left us right in front of the Willis Tower, a 110-story, 442.1m high building. Amazing! In fact when we got out of the taxi we looked up and could not see the top. Also, with the movement of the clouds, it seemed that the building was going to fall on us.

Thanks to the breathtaking views of the city, I stopped thinking about the inconvenience I had. From above, you can see a 360º view of the city of Chicago. Clearly you will distinguish the center, where all the skyscrapers are, of the suburbs where the majority of the population lives in single-family houses. A very interesting contrast.

When I went down, I bought a bottle of water and I took a probiotic to soften the symptoms. There was still a lot of afternoon left and I did not want to have to run in search of a bathroom.

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Our next stop was the Hancock Tower. Up there we would have one of the best views of the sunset in the city. We walked for about 30 minutes to get there and, on the way, I took the opportunity to stop and ask if the Dunkin Donuts, the Subway and the McDonalds had anything gluten free. They all told me no! Really? It seems that in Europe fast food chains are much more advanced in reference to this issue… I was very surprised, like the answer they gave to Isabel at Starbucks when she was in New York.

After walking along the Magnificent Mile, we arrived at the Hancock Tower. Coming from the Cloud Gate, you will have to go around it to enter where the elevators that will take you to the Signature Room and the Signature Lounge are. The elevator will take you to the 96th floor in less than a minute. You will be aware of the speed at which you climb because your ears will probably get blocked.

When we reached the top, just in time for the sunset, we looked at the menu and, as the gluten-free options did not convince me, we went one floor down to the Signature Room, the restaurant, to see its menu. There were much more interesting dishes there. Also, the views were also much better.

We asked for a table next to the window to enjoy the views of the city while we were having dinner, but there were only free ones on the north side, where nothing interesting could be seen. We decided to wait until there was a free table on the south side, from where all the skyscrapers in the city were visible.

While we waited, we went upstairs again to have a drink. I did not order anything with alcohol to avoid making my belly worse. Although I still was feeling a bit of pain, thanks to the probiotic I had taken, it had not gotten worse.

There were plenty of gluten-free options on the menu, but I decided to have a beef filet with mashed potatoes. Something safe and that usually sit well when I have this kind of pain.

Although we talked about work, the conversation with Karl during the dinner was very interesting, since he told me many things that I did not know about his company.

Back at the hotel, I was still feeling and increasing pain. Even though it was still bearable, upon arriving, I went directly to the room. I spent the night much better than I expected, since I only had to go to the bathroom once. Luckily, it was nothing compared to how badly I felt after that dinner at the Tapa Tapa in Barcelona.

The next day, Karl and I went to visit another group company. After the visit, Mike took us to a restaurant that was near his company. Short Fuse is called. It was a brewery … I did not have them all with me about eating there, but I have to admit that I was wrong. When the waiter came, we talked to him to see what they could do to me, since they were all hamburgers and sandwiches. They told me that they would cook everything separately and that, instead of potatoes, they would bring me a salad.

I ordered a hamburger without bread, a “coke” from a brand I had never seen before and the salad. After the experience of the previous day, I did not want to eat too much, since I did not want to feel bad during the flight. I had to take the plane back to Madrid after 3 hours and, if it is bad to be wrong being far from home, imagine how it should be inside a plane.

On the way back, at night, they brought me a gluten-free menu for dinner based on chicken with vegetables and tomato sauce, with bread and fruit. This time I did not eat much, since the chicken was very bad. I took advantage to sleep.

The gluten free breakfast that was served to us was much better than the one-way snack, since they brought me a sandwich that felt great.

I arrived to Alcalá de Henares about 10 o’clock in the morning. I really wanted to see Isabel and rest all weekend.

You can see the pictures of the trip here.



P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!


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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!