The perfect little 21st-century cafe will have healthful, delicious food, speedy delivery, cool decor, gluten-free options, cold-pressed juice and be tuned into social media—Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. OK, you get the idea.
In this regard, SkinnyFATS, the casual new three-meal spot on Dean Martin Drive, hits all its marks. Entrepreneur Reed Allen Slobusky dreamed up the place with his partner chef Josh Green, who was last seen at Republic and, more recently, as private chef for the NBA star Jermaine O’Neal.
The boys have tricked out this place nicely, using crate wood for the walls and a corrugated tin ceiling, painting said walls with colorful, primitivism renderings of fruits and vegetables. And they’ve been slammed from Day One. Come anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and you’d better be prepared to stand in line and then to wait for food that is essentially all made to order.
As with any food-service business, location is essential. The cafe sits smack in the middle of a commercial area with lots of offices (including Vegas Seven’s headquarters) and precious few places to eat. So it would seem that delivery gets priority. The kitchen is new, but for dine-in customers, it will need to speed up.
Green is an experienced chef with talent, but even he can’t make a gluten-free pizza crust taste like the real thing. The Skinny Q pie is tasty, thanks to toppings including chicken, low-fat cheddar cheese, red onions and an interesting agave-based barbecue sauce. But the crust, made with a special whole-wheat flour blended with rice flour, is dry and stiff. We left most of it.
But there is sufficient compensation to bring you back repeatedly. Under the mantle of “Healthy Snacks,” is the Slow Boat To China, an Asian chicken salad cleverly housed in the hollow of a peeled cucumber, whereas “Happy Snacks” brings you the dish Rancho-mame—spice-dusted green soybeans steamed in their pods with ranch dressing on the side.
Then there are the excellently conceived salads, led by one called Flat Chix & Greens, a pailliard-style grilled chicken breast blanketed with a toothsome arugula salad blended with tomatoes, capers and parsley, all drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Healthy isn’t the only possibility, of course, and that’s where the FATS enters the equation. I was fairly blown away by my Chix on Broadway, maybe the most indulgent chicken sandwich anywhere: a huge, Chick Fil-A-style breaded chicken breast on a brioche bun with lots of bacon, mayo and several other ingredients sure not to dazzle an internist.
And naturally there is a burger, times three in this case. Burger Benedict is slathered with a special sauce, avocado and a fried egg. Assuage the guilt by asking for the wonderful sweet potato fries, healthier than standard fries, on the side.
Green cold-presses all his juices from fresh fruits and vegetables, and makes a number of smoothies, floats and shakes. Come for breakfast to order Bonjour Brûlée (nine-grain bread dipped in an egg-white creme brûlée mixture) or Waffle Mountain High (buttermilk waffles topped with whipped cream, manly syrup and a fresh berry compote).
Whether landing on the “Healthy” side or “Happy” side of this menu, you’re almost sure to leave feeling that the future of casual dining is running in this direction.
6261 Dean Martin Dr., 979-9797. Open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Fri. Lunch for two, $19-$36.
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