Healthy grub in futuristic Masdar City
Indian outlet Mynt and gluten-free café Skinny Genie get reviewed, we explore the new Roberto’s Saturday brunch and tell you where to go if you want to try Emirati dishes during this Holy Month
It won’t come as a surprise to learn that a restaurant with the word ‘Skinny’ in the name isn’t big on junk food such as burgers and pizzas. But Skinny Genie, which its creators call a “health-conscious lifestyle brand”, not only caters to foodies looking to save calories, but also has plenty of dishes for vegans and those of you shunning gluten.
There’s already a branch in Dubai, with a second in the works, and you’ll find Skinny Genie (which opened about five months ago) in the capital a stone’s throw away from the Siemens car park entrance in Masdar.
It’s more than just a restaurant inside. They sell Fair Trade coffee made in Dubai, bottles of their own brand of olive oil, plus energy bars and packs of muesli. There’s a pastries counter serving gluten-free croissants and muffins. Skinny is clearly trying to appeal to a mixed audience of people who don’t want to eat any junk food. It’ll also appeal to those of you who want to recycle and save the planet. You won’t find much plastic here – even the straws are paper and drinks are served in glass jars.
The décor is simple (plants line the walls, wood dominates) and a focal point is a giant fridge, which has most of the items featured on the menu on display in big glass pots, with labels listing their calories.
The menu is split into sections, including the aforementioned bakery snacks (they make gluten-free bread), breakfast, salads, soups and sandwiches, wraps and mains and finally, desserts. This is more of a café style outlet, so there’s no real starter portions to speak of, but What’s On kicked off with a menu highlight – a pumpkin, feta and beetroot dip salad that was colourful, packed full of greens and worked incredibly well. All the flavours got a chance to shine, not one overwhelmed the others. A portion of pumpkin soup though was a little bland – while the sweetness of the pumpkin certainly was evident, it needed a little more pizzazz. A gluten-free fusilli pesto salad featured peppers, Kalamata olives, pine nuts and parsley, but the olives somehow dominated all other flavours. Not an issue if you like olives, but it wasn’t the taste explosion the menu hinted at. One dish that did deliver, though, was a main of Angus beef stroganoff with mixed quinoa. Made with broccoli, beetroot and gherkins, it benefited from not being too creamy, again allowing all the flavours to deliver.
For dessert, a baked mango cheesecake with vegan cream took a few mouthfuls to get used to, but the almost savoury tasting cream improved with each dip of the spoon. There is a dish on the menu that surely isn’t healthy, despite the restaurant’s claims – a decadently smooth, dark Belgian chocolate mousse with full cream. Vegans look away now, but it was a menu highlight.
Overall, What’s On left impressed – a couple of dishes need a tweak but it’s an outlet that is much needed in the capital.
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 11pm, Fri 11am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 5555897. Taxi: Masdar. skinny-genie.com