On my work trip to Chicago there was a restaurant, Elephant and Castle (a North American chain), that was close to our hotel and that we went to for a few meals and/or drinks. Not at all a bad restaurant, but not the type I’d usually blog about on trips outside of Miami. However they do have gluten-free burger buns and I thought that was worth a mention for gluten-frees looking for options in the Loop (especially since they’re open reasonably late).
The first time I went to Elephant and Castle was for lunch after we returned to our hotel for a work block. It was there that I saw the gluten-free bun option on the menu. A burger seemed like the best bet with that and there were a couple different options. A few that caught my interest had gluten toppings (like a fried pickle or Guinness BBQ sauce) and looking back it would have been easy to just substitute those out. Instead I went for the bacon and bleu burger (although that’s something I’d pick normally as well). The burger overall was fine, although it didn’t come with much bacon. I was happy with the bun because it held together well. Similarly to how I describe gluten-free pizza if it doesn’t crumble or fall apart it makes it above average for gluten-free. It’s a pretty foreign feeling for gluten-frees to eat a burger with your hands so I appreciated that. The bun also wasn’t terribly dry, which is also a plus for gluten-free buns. Only real complaint was that the fries were pretty dry (despite not being unusually thick) and kind of bland. Ketchup did the trick okay and I’m sure ranch would take care of it no problem, but it was kind of a disappointment for this usually easily satisfied fry fanatic.
During that lunch a co-worker/friend got the slum dog, which is a panko crusted hot dog wrapped in a naan. He thought it was interesting and good. He especially liked the curried tomato sauce on top of it. A another friend got the sirloin salad, but she was disappointed it came out with romaine/Iceberg lettuce. The menu didn’t list the lettuce and I agreed with her that usually on a steak salad you’d expect at least mixed greens or spinach. Lastly my friend got the traditional poutinere (fries covered in gravy and cheese curds). This was her first time trying it and got mixed reviews from her, but it also was heavy and she had a salad she ate first. Poutinere is also a pretty distinct dish that some people rave about and others don’t like. She fell a bit in the middle.
We also went there for a dinner and drinks on another night. It’s set up like a British pub and the food fits that. Unfortunately a few of the pub specialties weren’t gluten-free like the bacon wrapped meatloaf. Meatloaf isn’t usually gluten-free, but the “bacon wrapped’ part made it worth asking. Alas (to pay homage to the British pub theme) it wasn’t. Their Caribbean jerk sauce was gluten-free so I went for the Caribbean Jerk Chicken with a gluten-free bun. I had some strong feelings in both directions. Overall I was a pretty big fan, because the gliuten-free bun again was solid and the chicken and toppings went well together. The sauce and toppings also helped mix with bites of the bun that were a little dry and without must flavor. There was just this sort of sweet taste with initial bites related to the jerk sauce that I wasn’t a huge fan of. It wasn’t enough to make me dislike the sandwich, but something I could have done without. That’s just me being picky though.
I also got the Caesar salad without croutons. I like Caesar salds a lot, but I won’t deny that I was a big fan because they included bacon on this. Bacon tends to have that effect on me.
Also at dinner a friend got the salmon, while the other got the Shepard’s pie. The salmon came out pretty undercooked so my friend sent it back, but then it was fine after that. My friend who got the Shepard’s pie (with ground beef and lamb) unfortunately found very bland and with really no seasoning, which was disappointing from the description. She didn’t take many more bites and instead went for the Caribbean Jerk Chicken as well (another friend got it also so it was a winner for a lot of people).
Overall Elephant and Castle was a typical national chain/pub food place with some winners and some others more in the middle. I wanted to mention it mostly for the gluten-free buns and having that gluten-free option in the Loop that people might be looking for. They didn’t seem to have a problem with people ordering drinks or food right before closing (11:30 PM) and staying a little bit past. It was a nice place for a good-sized group of people to grab drinks and hang. See the pics of the gluten-free buns below!
Elephant and Castle- 111 West Adams Street Chicago, IL (other locations in Chicago and across the U.S. and Canada)