Eating out for the health conscious has always been an uphill task. If you add the group of people who have unique dietary requirements like Vegans, Paleo, Gluten free and GMO free – you are assured of not finding anything edible on a conventional menu. It’s almost like eating out and being healthy are at odds with each other and no one ever thought to breach that divide – until now. Smoke House Deli aims to remove the guilt of eating out by catering to our health goal needs. And they’ve worked really hard to make it lip-smackingly delicious as well!
When faced with health food that claims to be tasty as well – apprehension is a common emotion. It’s not that I’m averse to health food, in fact I strive to actively eat healthy everyday at home. It’s the sweet spot of (eating out x healthy food x tasty food), that has been an elusive unicorn. I was surprised to see that the Health Menu at SHD was not just a leaflet that has 5-8 dishes, but a well thought out comprehensive menu of over 35 items! While all the dishes on the menu are mandatorily gluten free (rejoice my gluten sensitive friends) and trans fat free – SHD has clearly signaled out dishes that are dairy free, vegan, super foods, vegetarian and those containing eggs. It’s also very cool to see them use traditional grains like Jowar, Nachini/ Ragi and Amaranth in their preparations. (Grandma would so approve!)
Even though we started the afternoon with champagne, we quickly put our health conscious personas in play. The Paleo Coconut and Seafood Broth seemed like a harmless version of a Thai inspired Soup and was probably the most efficient way to ease us into the day. With no dairy, it’s a boon for the lactose intolerant. The Vegan Spinach and Millet Soup enriched with superfoods sounded extremely healthy but was deliciously moreish. I saw myself easily shifiting loyalties to this nourishing soup.
Low Glycemic Sandwiches made with Gluten free bread and Ragi bread arrived next. While the fillings of Smoked Tomato and Brie or Soya Marinated Tofu and Spinach hit the spot, the breads itself lacked the structure to hold the fillings without getting soggy. I know it’s a gargantuan task to make bread without gluten, (so not really going to diss them), but maybe a gluten free corn tortilla wrap would have been a much better choice.
Salads are kind of a super food themselves, so I was keen to see SHD’s version of “Super Food Salads”. The Bean Sprouts, Crispy Quinoa with Brown rice flakes Salad with sunflower seeds, carrot ribbons and guava reduction should give you an idea of what they mean! Honestly, too much of a good thing din’t go bad here. Delicious – especially that sinful guava dressing! For poultry eaters, there’s a Kefir soaked Chicken with organic red rice and brown rice flakes, dressed with an Apricot Chilli dressing. The Turkish Kefir Milk is an excellent probiotic food made with yeast and even has a magic property of improving lactose intolerance.
My favourite dish of the day was a beautiful Jowar Gnocchi and Mushroom Fricasse. Understandably the Jowar gnocchi does not have the lightness of traditional gnocchi, but the depth of flavour in the grains more than compensated for it. And the mushroom fricassee with parmesan crisps – smoky, rustic and very addictive. There are a host of gluten free pastas made from Jowar that are paired with various toppings. The Jowar Fettucine with Tomato braised Vegetables is the Indian cousin of the much loved Ratatouille. The Millet Risotto with White mushrooms and Arugula is another one that hit all the high notes. It’s even inspired me to try a Foxtail Millet version at home!
The mains have a choice for the Paleo protein lover and include Lean Tenderloin steak with Roasted Cauliflower, carrots and Sweet Potatoes. The Ras El Hanout grilled Chicken with Spicy Brown rice was a favourite at the table and I suspect that the spicy dressing did the trick. The Pan Seared Rawas came beautifully plated with kidney beans, chickpeas and corn. The Soy Milk and Bhavnagri Sauce offered a mild kick to the rawas. My only grouse – the rawas needed to be pan seared a bit longer to ensure the skin stayed crispy.
You could opt for a freshly cut Seasonal Fruit Bowl to end you meal, but for once, the dessert options offered a guilt free indulgence and who’s going to resist that offer?! The Banana Flour Cake with Carrot Pate looks and tastes healthy. But the Cacao Nib and Soya Milk Cheese Cake with a Nachini (Ragi) Crust was a revelation. Note to all Cheese cake makers – a Ragi crust has the perfect texture and crunch for a cheese cake base. I would probably order this one off their regular menu!
So it is with much relief that I state that my afternoon of eating through a health menu, not only left me satisfyingly full but also delighted my palate. It is evident that the team at SHD has put their heart and soul into developing this menu and with signature SHD style, they go all out to delight the end customer. Highly highly recommended. Especially if that Vegan or Gluten Sensitive friend or family member needs a special treat and hasn’t had a decent meal out in months!
Smoke House Deli,
52, 53, Lavelle Road,
+91 80 41276272
Cost : INR 1750/++ for a meal for two.
Valet Parking available.
Picture Courtesy: Smoke House Deli