Healthier options at three local restaurants | Taste Test

Dining out can present many challenges to healthful eating. From portion sizes, to oversalting, there are many ways that restaurants can exploit a perfectly nutritious meal. This month, we searched out healthful options in a variety of cuisines and atmospheres, and what we found was surprisingly delightful.

Dining out can present many challenges to healthful eating. From portion sizes, to oversalting, there are many ways that restaurants can exploit a perfectly nutritious meal. This month, we searched out healthful options in a variety of cuisines and atmospheres, and what we found was surprisingly delightful.

Breakfast at Samantha’s (Portage St. NW, Jackson Twp.)

taste_samanthaSamantha’s in Jackson Township is one of my favorite options for breakfast, mainly because of the sheer diversity of the menu, and an ever-changing features list. Even if you have been going here for years, there’s always something new to try, thanks to owner Sabrina, who definitely has a creative flair when it comes to the menu.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been the first to order a new menu item—most recently, the fried green tomato BLT with cheddar and Muenster on sourdough (yes, it was a splurge). Not only was it fantastic, but it elicited a table visit from Sabrina, anxious to see if it lived up to expectations.

Healthful options at Samantha’s are also easy to come by. An entire gluten-free menu is available upon request, complete with gluten-free pancakes. Something you might see on the menu and pass over in favor of strawberry cream cheese stuffed French toast, or some other more decadent option, is the Exotic Grain and Fire-roasted Vegetable Omelet. It is an all-egg-white omelet, stuffed with a blend of Colusari red rice, brown rice, amaranth, Anaheim peppers, black bean and corn salsa, roasted garlic, cilantro, lime, spinach and goat cheese.

Somehow, the chef manages to appropriately portion these ingredients so that this concoction is not bursting at the seams. The rice mixture—along with the amaranth (an edible, gluten-free seed similar to quinoa)—add a nice heartiness to the omelet, providing protein that will fill you up. The roasted veggies are flavorful, and quite honestly, hardly noticeable, as they are mixed in with the delicious rice.

And the goat cheese is definitely the perfect choice of cheese. If you’re going the low-carb route, opt for the tomato slices instead of toast for a nice change-up. All of this adds up to an outstanding, and completely guilt-free, breakfast.

Lunch at Mulligan’s Pub (Belden Village St. NW, Jackson Twp.)

Lunch can get unhealthful, and fast. Take any of your local sandwich shops—menus chock-full of Reubens and burgers make it nearly impossible to make a healthful choice. And if you’re going for the burger, you might as well get the fries to go with, am I right?

But you may be surprised to discover that one of the best salads in Stark County comes from Mulligan’s Pub. So while your lunch date is ordering prime rib and mashed potatoes (a Mulligan’s classic), you can responsibly opt for the California Salad, which will satisfy you just the same. Romaine lettuce, loaded with strawberries, grapes, mandarin oranges, lightly sweet candied pecans, dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles, topped with its balsamic vinaigrette is a fabulous choice. It’s a great meal on its own, or further enhanced with a tuna steak, cooked to the temperature of your choice.

While I adore this salad, with either the mid-rare tuna steak or grilled chicken, the portion borders on mammoth. This seems to be a common problem in nearly every restaurant these days—portion control. The only thing I can recommend is requesting a box and splitting it straight away for tomorrow’s lunch. It’s that large. And at $15, I do wish they would consider a half-size portion for the lighter appetites. That said, it’s easily two meals, and therefore worth the price.

Dinner at Bombay Sitar (Fulton Dr. NW, Jackson twp.)

taste_bombayYou may or may not know this, but the Canton area is home to a destination in Indian cuisine. Bombay Sitar, now officially settled into its new digs on Fulton Drive in Jackson Township, is known across Northeast Ohio for serving some of the finest-quality Indian food available. If you haven’t tried Indian food, you must ignore all rumors that it’s incredibly spicy. Fear not, the chefs cook to the spice level of your choosing; even ordering “mild” still gives you all the wonderful flavors characteristic of Indian cuisine. I would recommend a first trip during lunch for the most heavenly buffet imaginable. There, you can sample everything and narrow down your favorites.

For dinner, Bombay Sitar takes on a quieter, more sophisticated identity, offering a diverse menu inspired by various regions of India. But, you might ask, is Indian food really healthful? In the case of Bombay, yes, it is. Chef and owner Ragu Singh uses the highest- quality ingredients (with no additives or preservatives), creating every menu item completely from scratch in his kitchen daily. Vegetarians will rejoice at the sight of a whole section of the menu devoted to their needs. Even vegan dishes are easy to come by, and many dishes are gluten-free.

Navigating the menu can be challenging for first-timers, but service is excellent and the staff can offer suggestions. For a healthful first course to share, try the Tandoori Assorted Appetizer: lamb, chicken and shrimp prepared Tandoori style, with sauteed green peppers and onions served on a sizzling platter. The fragrance and flavors are incredible.

For vegetarian entrees, my favorite is Bayngan Bharta, a traditional Punjabi dish of eggplant roasted in the Tandoor (a clay pit oven, fueled with wood charcoal) and combined in a rich curry (sauce) with peas, fresh tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic. There is a sweetness to this dish that is unexpected but welcome, likely a result of heavy cream that’s added to the sauce. Vegans can request the dish without cream—as with all menu items, the kitchen will modify based on your requests.

Chicken Jalfreezl is another fine example of Indian curry, this time incorporating large and tender pieces of flavorful chicken breast, cooked with bell peppers, spring onions and tomatoes. This dish has a zest that contrasts well with the creaminess of the eggplant dish. Two things I’ve learned about Indian cuisine: 1) There’s a curry out there for everyone, and 2) it’s always better to share. And don’t forget a mango lassi to wash it down—a traditional Indian drink of chilled mangoes blended with homemade yogurt and water.

LOCATIONS
Samantha’s

4954 Portage St. NW, Jackson Twp.
330-499-9700
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Samanthas-Restaurant.com

Mulligan’s Pub

4118 Belden Village St. NW, Jackson Twp.
330-493-8239
HOURS: open from 11 a.m. (kitchen open till 11 p.m.) Monday through Thursday, open from 11 a.m. (kitchen open till midnight) Friday and Saturday and open from 11 a.m. (kitchen open till 10 p.m.) Sunday
MulligansCanton.com

Bombay Sitar

5111 Fulton Dr. NW, Jackson Twp.
330-305-0671
HOURS: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday
Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
BombaySitar.com

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass