Review: Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Carrabbas-TrioWhile eating at an Italian grill is not the first place that pops to mind when wanting to eat a low-carb diet. However, Carrabba’s Italian Grill comes through. They currently are running a lovely “Trio” special where you can choose 3 different items (one from each category) for $16. For an additional $4, one can choose any 3 items, including all 3 items in their protein category (Chicken Bryan, Grilled Salmon and Sirloin Marsala).

This dining option is delicious and pure protein. Just wave away the bread appetizer and choose the wine over the sangria, and you have a lovely low-carb dinner. In fact there is so much food, I had to take left-overs home for a 2nd meal. It was delicious and satisfying!

There are other options for the low-carb palette on the menu. They are open to customizing anything on the menu. Just sub the pasta side for veggies on many of their dishes, or order a salad with added chicken or steak,  and you’re good to go!

Review: CB &Potts at Collindale Golf Course

I recently had the chance to dine at the CB & Potts located at the Collindale Golf Course. There I enjoyed a lovely 6oz sirloin with a side of steamed vegetables and a salad. This dish usually also includes fries, but I opted for extra veggies instead. I also had their ginger dressing on the salad and picked off all the croutons.

CB & Potts isn’t the most low-carb friendly establishment, but they do have a few good options on their menu, such as the one I just described. My  other favorite is their chicken almond salad. I just have them leave off the crispy noodles. I love the ginger dressing that comes with this. They have a total of 4 entree salads which are all excellent, but the Almond Chicken is definitely my favorite.

They have several nice low-carb entress besides the sirloin I mentioned, although they all require some substitution since they all come with either fries or a baked potato.

They also have a nice hummus and veggies plate as an appetizer that also makes a great low-carb snack if you just want something to munch while enjoying a light beer while watching the game.

El Monte Grill

El Monte Grille

Veracruzana (Red Snapper) at El Monte Grill

El Monte is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise run down location. It’s near the Chuck E. Cheese on College and Prospect.

I’d classify this restaurant as “Mexican Fusion.” They try and blend authentic Mexican cuisine with an upscale, American flair, and I think they succeed very well at it.

Admittedly they do have a lot of dishes with tortillas which are not low-carb, but they have a few dishes that are either good low-carb options, or can be made so with a simple substitution or two.

My personal favorite is their Veracruzana – a delicious red snapper served with roasted veggies, and I swap out the mashed potatoes for a side order of beans. They also have a lovely 12 ounce Rib-Eye served with a cheese relleno that can also get the beans for potatoes swap. My favorite appetizer is their cevice, which they change daily. The last time I had it, it was a mahi mahi “cooked” in lime juice with cilantro and other spices. Absolutely delicious!

So if you love Mexican, and enjoy a meal with a bit of upscale flair, I’d highly recommend this as a low-carb friendly option.

Restaurant: Jay’s Bistro

Salmon Summer Special at Jay's Bistro

Salmon Summer Special at Jay's Bistro

Jay’s Bistro is one of my favorite “special occasion” restaurants for dinner, and a great meet-up place for lunch (I host a monthly meet-up here for folks interested in Web Analytics). They have a classy atmosphere, excellent staff, and fabulous food (if you’re noticing a trend in my reviews – I’m only reviewing places with great food – if a place doesn’t have great food, I won’t give them any free publicity).

Jay’s has excellent low-carb options, like the Salmon on their Summer Specials menu. It comes with a quinoa pilaf and seared spinach. They are also happy to modify many dishes to be low-carb upon request – instead of mashed potatoes I often opt for either seared spinach or asparagus (sometimes both!).

One of the other excellent dishes is their Lamb Shank. It’s different but equally as good as the Lamb Shank from Taverna I reviewed the other day. I also really love their Bouillabaisse, I just ask them to leave out the noodles these days. It’s a flavorful broth chock full of fresh seafood (fish, mussels, clams, shrimp – yum!). Also their Filet Mignon and Venison options are excellent.

If you’re looking for a low-carb special occasion option, Jay’s is wonderful. They also have a surprisingly reasonable lunch menu, which is about a third of the cost of their dinner menu. Only one warning – do not be tempted by their Lobster Mac and Cheese. It is sinfully good, but will kick you off the low-carb wagon big time!

Restaurant: Taverna Greek Grill

Braised Lamb at Taverna Greek Grill

Braised Lamb at Taverna Greek Grill

Taverna Greek Grill is a great new Greek restaurant here in Ft. Collins. It resides where the old Johnny Carinos had been for many years. We’ve eaten there now about 3-4 times and have had an excellent experience every time. The staff is attentive, the management is very friendly – checking with every table to make sure their meal and experience is great, and the food is wonderful. On top of that, every so often the staff stops serving to dance around the restaurant to traditional Greek music and the rhythmic clapping of patrons, followed by a traditional “breaking-of-the-plates” (often done by children that are invited to come up and throw the plates towards the kitchen).

What’s best is that the restaurant is very accommodating to our low-carb needs. In fact on one occasion when the kitchen was a little behind with our order, they brought out an appetizer platter of dips, and remembering our low-carb requirements, substituted the traditional pita bread with large cucumber and tomato slices instead. Wow!

Right now my favorite dishes include their roasted lemon chicken and their braised lamb. The braised lamb is an absolutely *must have*. The succulent tomato sauce and the tender lamb is to die for. I just ask for spinach instead of potatoes and it becomes a perfect low-carb meal.

I definitely highly recommend this restaurant for the food, service and fun. It’s a great night out!

Restaurant: Young’s Cafe

Vinegar Beef at Young's Cafe

Vinegar Beef at Young's Cafe

Young’s Cafe may be a touch westernized in it’s approach to traditional Vietnamese cooking, but they have good food at affordable prices. While traditional Vietnamese noodle bowls (also known as Pho) are off the low-carb diet list, this restaurant has a number of low-carb friendly options.

Personally my favorite is the Vinegar Beef. It’s tender slices of beef marinaded in a sweet vinegar glaze. It does have some added sugar, but not so much that this dish cannot be an occasional treat. It’s served with cilantro, tomatoes and onions. If you forgo the side of rice, this can be a decent low-carb meal.

My boyfriend’s favorite dish at Young’s is their Pork in Clay Pot. A steaming clay pot filled with flavorful, succulent pork. It really is a must try for anyone living the low-carb lifestyle in Fort Collins. I do enjoy the dish, but I wish it came with some veggies.

One note to keep in mind: dinner here is a better low-carb option than lunch. Lunch is more affordable, but automatically comes with rice on the plate (instead of in a separate serving bowl), and also comes with an eggroll. This is not to say you cannot order lunch here, you just need to keep this in mind and either just not eat the carb-rich sides or ask your server to not include them (I always ask for extra veggies as a substitute).

Otherwise, many of their dishes are very low-carb friendly – generous helpings of chicken, beef or seafood sauteed with vegetables in a variety of sauces. Just say “no thank you” to the side of rice and you’re good to go. Just watch the added sugar content in some of the dishes, or ask the wait staff. They are very friendly and helpful and always make us feel welcome.

Retaurant: Cafe Vino

I think by far Cafe Vino is our most favorite restaurant in Fort Collins currently – considering we eat there at least 3 times every week! My review focus here will of course be on low-carb options we’ve had there, but if you’re interested in what else they have to offer, check out the Feasting Fort Collins blog entries.

Yellowfin Tuna Salad

Yellowfin Tuna Salad

Cafe Vino has a number of low-carb options on their standard lunch and dinner/tapas menus that I enjoy. One of my favorites is their Seared Yellow-fin Tuna Salad. It’s served on a bed of lettuce with an edamame and wild-rice pilaf and tangerines. It comes with a wasabi vinaigrette that I find just delightful.

Now if you are on a specific low-carb diet, like Atkins, you may want to ask them to remove the tangerines and wild-rice pilaf, but otherwise this is a nice low-cab option.

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews

Spiced Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews

One of my other favorite treats that’s regularly on their menu are their spiced goat cheese stuffed peppadews. These are just slightly spicy and a burst of flavor. They make a great low-carb appetizer.

My other favorite thing about Cafe Vino are their daily specials. You never know what creative, delicious creation their chef has come up with until you arrive and so far I have been disappointed only once in the past year. Everything else I’ve tried was absolute perfection.

Scallops with Asparagus Tips and Wild Boar Bacon

Scallops with Asparagus Tips and Wild Boar Bacon

One example of this was a scallop special they had some weeks back, served with asparagus sprigs and wild boar bacon. It was absolutely fabulous. My only gripe – I wish there had been more (although, portion control is never a bad thing!).

Also if they have a special served with risotto, noodles or potatoes, they are very accommodating in replacing those high-carb/high-starch items with low-carb options upon request. I often will get a side of seared spinach, sauteed mushrooms or sauteed squash and zucchini (whatever they happen to have on hand that day) as a substitute.

If you’re looking for a light meal that’s low-carb friendly, I highly recommend Cafe Vino.