RESTAURANTS Seeing the “light” from $ to $$$

For Dallas diet watchers, dining well is the best revenge.

IT’s a ’90s thing-low-fat, good-for-you foods have so increased in popularity that area restaurants of every size and stripe are adding alternatives to their menus. Some notable choices follow.

The brainchild of marketer Joanne Levy and restaurateur Lisa Kramer, Eureka! ($) is a sleekly stylized and slickly executed concept with the look and feel of a chain about to spawn links. Note the crisp black-and-white color scheme, menu with memorable names (veggie “Eureka!bobs,” “Eureka ! Wrappers”), and full line of services: There’s take-out, catering, home delivery, a newsletter, even cooking classes. (No wine, but you can B.Y.O.) Opens weekdays at 7 and Saturday and Sunday at 8: bagels and whole-grain muffins with no-fat cream cheese, egg white omelets, turkey bacon, Power!Shakes. 4011 Villanova.

At Natura Cafe($$) executive chef Mark Morrow and chef Ken Mills’ creations involve no cream, little butter or oil, and lots of veggies and grains. The menu focuses on low-fat fish, chicken, and turkey imaginatively incorporated into appealing dishes. Examples: red snapper tacos, penne with smoked chicken and fresh tomatoes, shrimp with black beans and spicy salsa, homemade pasta topped with grilled veggies, and all-lean meatloaf not at all like Mom’s! The only steaks on the menu are tenderloin and bison burgers, both naturally low in fat. Breakfast and brunch specialties include lean venison sausage, no-yolk omelets, whole-grain cereal, and muffins. At lunch try the soups or meal-size J salads, or a tuna ahihurger. Calorie and nutrition information is available for all dishes. The cafe is bright with natural light during the day, subdued and candlelit at night, and the atmosphere is environmentally friendly- they even filter the air and water! 2909 McKinney Avenue at Howell.

Pasta Plus ($) offers “light” lunch and dinner fare for carbo-cravers every day but Sunday. This Italian bistro and take-out deli specializes in fresh pastas prepared with whole ingredients, and without preservatives, tomato paste, roux, thickening agents, butter, or margarine. Oil, when used, is olive oil. Breads, desserts, and low-fat sausages are all made on the premises. The “light” menu trims fat and calories by relying on skim milk cheeses, more veggies, and less oil or none at all. The low-fat cheese and pasta dishes are also ideal for vegetarians: Try stuffed giant portobello mushrooms packed with spinach and low-fat ricotta; pasta prima-vera; eggplant lasagna; eggplant Florentine roll-ups with grilled polenta; stuffed shells and vegetarian cannelloni: big pasta rolls crammed with veggies and topped with no-fat Sicilian style sauce; grilled veggies and polenta. Preston Trail Village (Campbell at Preston). Preston Royal East (Preston at Royal).

Rodolfo and brother Renato Sprandeo make a major commitment to alternative cuisine at Rodolfo’s Italian and seafood restaurant ($$). They offer the best selection of creative low-fat Italian dishes along with traditional regional favorites. Most unique, “tutta frutta cuisine”: pastas, grilled chicken, fish, even pasta and pizza garnished with grapes, kiwi, berries, and otherfreshfruit. My favorite: grilled chicken breast and fettuccine in a low-fat Alfredo-style cream sauce made with fresh flit-free cheese, then tossed with fruit. Lots of vegetarian choices, too, including spinach ricotta dumplings (“meatless meatballs”). Lovely desserts including jewel-pretty fruit tats. The menu lists calories, fat, and cholesterol counts. 5956 Royal Lane at Preston.

LeCafe at the Grand Kempinski Hotel {$$) beckons the health-conscious at lunch and dinner with alternative dishes that pamper and indulge: filling, flavorful seafood chowder swimming with shrimp, scallops, and catch of the day; veggie pizza on Afghan bread topped with fat-free cheese; creamy lasagna with fat-free moz-zarella and ricotta. You can also dine like a prince on a paupe’s calorie budget at the Grand Kempinski’s The Rotisserie ($$/$$$). Start with Mack mussels cooked in white wine and shallots, or Afghan bread topped with roasted eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and fat-free mozzarella. Dinner offers a variety of low-fat options. Lean meats, poultry, and fish are wrapped with aromatic herbs and cooked to a tender turn, no fat added. Or try free range chicken, Cornish hen, Colorado lamb, veal, spicy turkey sausages, lemon-drizzled salmon, and low-fat tenderloin. Pasta fans will rejoice in luscious vegetable lasagna made with fat-free cheeses. For dessert there’s Rosie’s chocolate cake, the hotel’s take on the cake made famous by Oprah Winfrey’s cook, served here in a coulis of fresh raspberries. 15201 Dallas Parkway.

Combining business with pleasure can be calorie-costly if it includes frequent entertaining; you can’t write off the pounds! But at Four Seasons Cafe on the Green ($$-$$$ ) you can indulge your taste buds and your health concerns. A winner of the Wine Spectator Great Wine List Award, the Cafe offeis polished presentations, serene surroundings, and a gourmet’s choice of trend-sett ng dishes. But the same menu also offer:, exquisite examples of “alternative cuisine”: grouper with crayfish cornbread stuffing; open face ravioli layered with asparagus, artichokes, and wild mushrooms; polenta with cannelini beans, greens, and tomatoes; roast Arctic charr with braised leeks and saffron broth…does this sound like dieting? 4150 MacArthur Boulevard, Las Colinas.


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