Belfast Telegraph

Restaurant review: Skinny Kitchen

Boucher Road, Belfast Tel: 028 9066 7604

By Joris Minne

It was inevitable. The health police were going to get us in the end. Too much fat, excessive sugar and an abundance of red meat over the last 20 years or so have left us reeling in our gyms and gasping for breath in our Nike trainers.

Talk of beach bodies, a good night's sleep, regular bowel movements and slim-fit suits is for other, younger, sexier and more disciplined people. Not for us. We who have wallowed in the hedonistic joys of beer and wine, steaks and gratins, hard and soft cheeses, reductions, gravies, custards, fondants and tartes tatins, are now counting our days. Our number is up. Come out quietly with your hands on your head and there'll be no trouble.

And while we squealed against the encroaching nanny state as it stepped in and stole our freedoms one by one, the beautiful people are just getting on with it. For them, the joys of last-century eating are repugnant and replaced instead by a devotion to fresh, raw, crunchy vegetables, moderate intakes of chicken or fish and loads of kale smoothies. "Snack on fruit," they say when you're hungry. Snack on fruit. Have you ever heard the likes of it? You snack on Penguins, Snickers and Mars bars.

Anyway, healthy eating is in, it's here to stay and there's nothing we can do about it. Soon there will be underground private clubs where you can get a Carnbrooke fillet of Angus or Hannan prime rib of Glenarm short horn, and you will need deep pockets, passwords, codewords and IDs to access them.

In the meantime, we can laugh about it and sneer at the healthy folk and their nut cutlet sandals and lentil back packs as we ask for more bearnaise.

But here's a thing - and I am whispering it: Some of this new stuff is remarkably and unexpectedly good. I like what they do in Slim's, Umi Falafel and Freshii, but the Skinny Kitchen on the Boucher Road (I know!) is a culinary knock-out.

There are all sorts of apparently health-giving, skin-clearing, mind-enhancing salads and gluten-free 'power bites' including burnt lemon hummus with raw veg, hot lime chicken wings in a lo-cal sauce with jalapeno and avocado dip, Greek fries (sweet potato fries with oregano, tomato relish, feta, olives basil and grilled lemon) and even satay fries.

You can compose your own dish from a section of the menu called 'Building Size' (surely they mean 'Sides'), which features more than a dozen options including halloumi, mixed grain salad, broccoli, rump steak and chicken. Loads of mains are there, among which the coconut cod curry, which comes with kale, spinach and peas and a mound of quinoa with scallions, lime and coriander, is a belter.

Great nugget-sized chunks of cod have not suffered in the least from swimming in a thick and creamy curry sauce that is sweet but not cloying and hot but not stinging. It's beautifully balanced and the strength of that cod flavour works very well with the light curry.

A plate of chicken skewers with satay sauce is ordered along with some spicy rice and apple and maple slaw. Sneaking in under the skewers is some pickled cucumber and carrot, which crunches and mulches up very satisfyingly with the hot rich satay sauce.

The spicy rice is as good as I've had in some of the better Cajun bistros in Washington DC, and the slaw is addictively lush, wet and crunchy.

Every possible healthy food combination is here including falafel, all sorts of wraps, protein-first dishes, courgette noodles, chilli bean burgers and so on.

And then there are all those smoothies and super drinks. They even have black lemonade, which, counter-intuitively, the server says is great for whitening teeth. It's also excellent for hangovers.

Skinny Kitchen may sound like a chapel of doom for those who, like the adviser and me, enjoy the more sinful things in life. But, judging by the food, this new healthy-eating project looks a lot less terrifying close up. Tuck in. I think you'll like it.

The bill

Skewers................................................£6

Spicy rice..............................................£3

Sweet potato fries..........................£3.50

Slaw.......................................................£3

Cod curry........................................£11.95

Black lemonade...................................£4

Coors Light......................................£3.80

Carrot cake......................................£5.95

Espresso................................................£2

Total................................................£43.20

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