Kcal, the ‘healthy fastfood’ concept that offers customized monthly meal plans, now has an upscale dine-in version. Joining hands with one of Dubai’s most popular five-star establishments, Gourmet by Kcal is a marriage of delicious ideas between the original Kcal and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi.
This unique concept is a godsend for the health-conscious. Every single dish served at Gourmet by Kcal is gluten-free, and all the ingredients used are fresh, locally sourced organic produce that is mainly bought from the Ripe Market. If you are counting calories, you will also be happy to see that the menu features a breakdown on the nutritional information of each and every dish.
The restaurant opened its doors to the public on 18th May this year, and takes up a beautifully spacious, scenic corner on the ground floor of Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. The interiors are understated chic, earthy and welcoming. A live olive tree takes center stage right in the middle of the restaurant, and a wide counter showcases fresh produce that is bought daily from the Ripe Market. They even have little pots of herbs at the front, and I rather liked the idea of having a pretty little shrub of fresh Rosemary on the table whose leaves you can pluck to add to the plate. The chairs at Gourmet by Kcal have been upholstered with recycled coffee bean bags. The earthy jute finishing adds to the ‘wholesome’ vibes of the space.
At one corner of the restaurant is a fully licenced bar that serves up an interesting lineup of healthy shots and organic wines. We, a group of eight enthusiastic food bloggers, huddled up in this corner and tried out two of Gourmet by Kcal’s smoothie shots.
We had the Super Greens Smoothie, a tangy-sweet refreshing hit of green apple, spinach, lemon and mint, cucumber, celery, kiwi and organic honey. We also tried their Beach Bliss, a sweeter, fruitier concoction featuring the tropical flavors of pineapple, mango and coconut water, laced with the characteristic heat of fresh ginger.
After these healthful sips, we gathered around the table, eager to try out more of the restaurant’s delicacies. We started off with three varieties of Spring Rolls. These are not the deep-fried Chinese versions, but rather the steamed Vietnamese variety featuring translucent, paper-thin rice flour sheets. We had one stuffed with chicken, another with minced prawn, and a meaty beef-filled variety as well, but my favorite was the vegetarian variety featuring finely shredded carrot and zucchini, and accentuated with the freshness of coriander leaves.
Next came Gourmet by Kcal’s Roasted Balsamic Onion & Carrot Cups. These dainty little tartlets featuring a chirpy bright orange carrot casing, was one of my favorite treats from the entire evening. The tartlets are filled with decadently caramelized onion whose natural sweetness has been further enhanced with balsamic dressing. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese adds a touch of decadence to this crunchy, wholesome appetizer. It tastes even better than it looks!
If you love pizza but shy away from the calories, Gourmet by Kcal is the place to be. Their gluten-free pizzas are loaded with healthful toppings, and feature a dough free base. You can choose to have a carrot or zucchini base, and once you try these, you’ll be hooked! We tried Gourmet by Kcal’s Prawn Pizza, a carrot base topped with tomatoes, avocado and prawn, and their Chicken Pizza, a carrot base with chicken and capsicum. The overall flavor combinations were so delicious that I really didn’t miss the cheese overload.
And how do they give Chicken Biryani a wholesome twist? At Gourmet by Kcal, they serve organic chicken breast on a bed of mildly spiced black rice, this is called the Black Rice Biryani with Smoked Chicken. I absolutely loved the black rice, it has a deliciously nutty aftertaste that went beautifully well with the biryani masala. However, the chicken was a little too tough for my liking. Perhaps it was just my plate because my fellow diners found theirs to be cooked just fine.
Gourmet by Kcal’s saving grace was their Havanna Chicken, a well-marinated serving of chicken breast served with an amalgamation of tropical flavours including a fruity mango and strawberry salsa, black beans, quinoa and roasted banana chips. The chicken was moist and tender, and I really liked it with the fruity chutney-like salsa.
However, by far, the favorite main-course on the table was Gourmet by Kcal’s Chili Con Carne. This traditional slow-cooked Mexican favorite is given a healthful twist with the addition of sweet potatoes and quinoa, and is served with crispy polenta chips and a dollop of sour cream. This dish has all the makings of a wholesome, satiating comfort food, and I will be back to have another bowlful real soon.
Another vegetarian main-course to hit all the right spots was Gourmet by Kcal’s Vegetarian Lasagna. Doing away with traditional lasagna sheets, this innovatively healthy alternative features a delicious lentil and mushroom mince amid layers of zucchini noodles that has been piled between parmesan and roasted eggplant. An absolute treat.
Those with a sweet-tooth, rejoice! Gourmet by Kcal has a very tantalizing lineup of decadent desserts that are gluten and dairy free, and made of wholesome organic ingredients.
My favorite dessert was their Caramel Almond Tart, a deep, dark chocolate treat created using CasaLuker 85% dark chocolate. The tart base is made of ground walnut and almonds, and features a divinely delicious coconut caramel filling. Topped with fresh raspberries that act as a respite from all that richness, this sinful looking treat is a respectable 609 Kcal per tart.
My other favorite was the deliciously sweet Coconut Caramel Cheesecake. I often refrain from cheesecakes as I find them too rich and filling for my liking, but the one here is playfully light and flavorful. The sweetness of this dessert comes from the characteristic woody goodness of maple syrup. This ‘cheesecake’ is sans any cheese, and is made with creamy cashew cream, and garnished with pecan, almonds, fresh blueberries and generous shavings of CasaLuker 85% dark chocolate.
We also had Gourmet by Kcal’s Dark Chocolate Mousse, a healthful mix of CasaLuker 85% dark chocolate with avocado sitting on an almond and date crust, and topped with fresh orange slices. Although this dessert looked absolutely stunning, the flavor combination was sadly off-putting. The mousse seemed to have the aftertaste of raw walnut which was a no-go for me, and I really do hope the restaurant works at fixing this glitch.
Overall, I had a lovely evening at Gourmet by Kcal. The health-conscious among us now have a beautiful venue to dine at, and apart from a few misses, the overall menu offering is innovatively wholesome and delicious. Gourmet by Kcal will be launching a breakfast menu from 10th June, and I am keen on giving it a go post Ramadan.
A big ‘thank-you’ to Monica Kapila from the DoInDubai blog for inviting me to this tasting event. I was joined by my fellow foodies What Nossy Ate, Dubai Food Diaries, Baggage and Dish , Megs Blogged, Dine Out Dubai and The Vegetarian Soul. Always a pleasure eating with this bunch!
Gourmet by Kcal is located on the ground floor of Le Meridien, Mina Seyahi (Dubai Marina). For more information on the restaurant and its concept, give them a call on 00 45117139 and visit their website . Happy, healthful eating everyone!