Healthy dining: a concept whose time has come?
by Nanette Martin
May 11, 2006 | 2339 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Just because food is prepared without heavy fats or rich ingredients to give it flavor does not mean that it cannot be tasty, filling and satisfying. That was the basis on which cardiologist Pat Daily started the restaurant in University City that bears his name.Reinforced by a carefully chosen team with expertise in the field of food, i.e., a restaurateur, a dietician and a chef, he developed a menu that holds up to this day. It encompassed items including starters and sides, salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps, as well as entrees, even venturing into pizza, drinks and desserts.Then, adding to its legitimacy, a complete chart featuring the nutritional content of each item, including not only the caloric count but grams of protein, fat, fiber, sodium, cholesterol, even down to the dietary exchanges, is published on the back of each menu, making it a treasure trove for those who need to be concerned with any of those.Bottom line, customers can order and dine with confidence, once they know their dietary restrictions, and so they do, returning over and over again for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each page of the menu promises that every item contains 10 or fewer grams of fat and not more than 20 percent of calories from fat. Where else can one find that kind of guarantee?Five years ago, Daily's was sold to partners Michael Yelaska and Teresita Davis, who have continued in the same location, using the same recipes originated by Dr. Daily, and with many of the same staff who started back in 1992 when it started. Of course, the best advertisement for any restaurant is the number of repeat customers and, without naming names, many of them are restaurant owners themselves who return regularly with their families, and that's a good thing.Catering is something Daily's also does, and with a $25 minimum order they deliver as well.The interior is simple, with wooden booths and tables, and customers order and pick up their food at a pass-through counter. A few wire-mesh tables and chairs are outside, overlooking the small shopping center and parking lot, but food can be packed for takeout as well.It was time for a taste test, so I started with chicken Florentine, the soup of the day. Made with a tomato-based, well-seasoned veggie broth with chunks of chicken, it was a good start on a brisk day.I followed it up with a tiny portion of three-bean and corn chili that had a comfortable bite to it, and then sampled the Chinatown chicken salad, which lacked for nothing. In addition to the romaine there were cucumber, carrots, water chestnuts, chicken, sesame seeds, sprouts and a dose of ginger and sesame dressing, made in-house and available for purchase. Oriental flavors are my favorite, so I ate that with gusto.Next up, a Thai noodle salad got my attention. It featured many of the same ingredients, with the addition of soba noodles, but a healthy splash of rice vinegar in the Thai citrus dressing took away from the soba flavor "” my personal preference would have been rice noodles, but that's just me.In between bites I sipped from two of the blender bar smoothies: the Paradise, made with orange juice, strawberry and banana, and it was paradise; and the Razzle Dazzle, whose sweetness was toned down by the cranberry juice, but the berry flavors "” straw-, blue- and rasp- "” came through.For more conventional folks there is a soda dispenser where they can draw their own, and of course, lemonade, teas, juices, coffee and bottled water. And, oh yes, wine by the glass is also available, along with beer.There is a dessert list, but I did not partake, as usual. Instead I opted for an entrée of chicken piccata, done with penne pasta, fresh mushrooms, lemon and garlic. Nice. There is also a generous selection of sandwiches and wraps from which to choose.Find Daily's Restaurant in the Renaissance Towne Centre, Nobel and Towne Centre Drive, in Suite 103. Call (858) 453-1112.
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