We all say we want to eat healthier. But are we sincere? And if so, why don’t we? Nicolas Kalpokdjian recently took all of those questions to an unlikely spot for a dining quiz: the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Kalpokdjian wasn’t merely satisfying his curiosity, and his choice of a polling place wasn’t arbitrary. He was preparing to open a new health food restaurant, and he saw the dreaded DMV as his best place to get a cross section of the local population. “Everybody has to go there,” he laughs, “whether you drive a Porsche or something less expensive.”
The answers he received weren’t terribly surprising. Most people told him they’d like to eat better. And when asked why they didn’t include more healthful meals in their diet, Kalpokdjian says he heard three excuses more than any other: “Expensive, boring and really hard to find,” he says. So those are the problems he and his partners are trying to correct at their new westside restaurant Eatt Healthy Food.
Eatt is a collaboration between manager Kalpokdjian, executive chef Yuri Szarzewski and pastry chef Vincent Pellerin. The front-of-house boss has two business degrees, and has worked with chefs in France, China, Hong Kong, Brazil and the U.S. Szarzewski has worked in seven different Michelin-starred restaurants in France. And their dessert man, Pellerin, has four starred restaurants of his own on his résumé.
That’s quite a pedigree for a place that formerly housed a Firehouse Subs. Of course, to be fair, it now bears little resemblance to the former tenant other than its display case and a small patch of exposed brick wall. The rest of the space is decorated in an almost sci-fi pairing of bright white and glowing green, with some wood accents to conjure up a post-naturalist vibe.
If the décor is stark, modern and striking, the look of the food takes it to another level. You’ll get your first visual taste at the display case, where pre-made sides and desserts are available to grab and go. (Sandwiches are also prepared to-order.) Properly plated on quality white china, the entrées and other dine-in dishes generally look even better. But however you order, the presentations are generally very impressive.
There is a specifically healthy dessert section of the menu that includes tiramisu, marinated pineapple with cilantro and pineapple chips, and a wonderful wafer-thin almond-flour macaron ….
Small dishes of broccoli, arugula and quinoa are all arranged better than you’d expect for a $4 side. A hollowed zucchini stuffed with its own purée has the look of fine-dining cuisine. Even the quiche and the sandwiches boast beautiful touches such as the sliver of lettuce leaf filled with a stripe of cream cheese and tiny wedges of heirloom tomatoes that sit atop the English tea-style salmon sandwiches. And while a Caesar salad wrap isn’t much to look at, it serves a purpose: Kalpokdjian tells me it’s become the go-to item among husbands who aren’t enamored with their wives’ desire to eat healthfully.
Eatt’s full-size entrées are limited, but extremely good. At the top of the list is seared and sliced black Angus beef (5 or 8 ounces) adorned with beautiful drizzles of beef jus and accompanied by the restaurant’s stunning rolled ratatouille. A rare cut of miso-marinated wild salmon over a salad of beets, apple and soy sprouts is also excellent, as was a daily special of tuna tartare with asparagus purée. And although the chicken breast was a bit bland, small slices of prosciutto and a side of carrots and pea purée help a lot.
But the real knockouts for both the eyes and the palate are the sweets. A cube of cheesecake that almost bleeds raspberry coulis when pierced is topped with a sphere of yuzu. There’s also a set of praline-filled puffed pastry; a chocolate bar that combines cake, silky mousse and a bit of crunch; and a trio of coconut foam cubes resting on a green matcha tea biscuit, topped with reservoirs of passion fruit caramel and adorned with white chocolate shavings. Of course, it’s hard to call those healthy for reasons other than their moderate portions. But after your healthy meal, you deserve some indulgence. And there is a specifically healthy dessert section of the menu that includes tiramisu, marinated pineapple with cilantro and pineapple chips, and a wonderful wafer-thin almond-flour macaron topped with fresh sweet strawberries, rhubarb and a touch of light vanilla cream.
While Eatt isn’t wholly dedicated to any particular dietary restrictions, it aims to serve the needs of as many people as possible. As a result, there are plenty of gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian and dairy-free options on the menu—all clearly labeled.
While it’s relatively new, Eatt is clearly on the right track toward making healthy dining more available and appealing to everyone. I suspect the folks in line at the DMV would approve.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Beef ($17-$23)
- salmon ($13)
- ratatouille rolls ($8)
- cheesecake ($6.50)
- and praline puff pastry ($6.50)
Eatt Healthy Food
7865 W. Sahara Ave.,702-608-5233, EattFood.com. Open for lunch and dinner, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue-Sat, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun. Closed Mondays during August. Dinner for two, $20-$50.