Dining

Weight Watchers

October 2009

You want to order a relatively healthy option when you eat out, but fine-dining restaurants don't hang calorie charts on the wall. Instead of blindly choosing between the cheesy pasta and grilled pork chop (hint: probably neither), we asked six local chefs to dish on their healthiest items. These eats may not, technically, be considered low-calorie or low-fat, but they're good options for eating lighter at some of Denver's top eateries.

Black Pearl

The Appetizer Spicy tuna with pear, pistachios, and ponzu sauce, $11

The Preparation Chef Micah Watkins tosses naturally low-in-fat raw tuna with diced pear, a touch of chile paste, a drop of olive oil, green onion, pistachios, and ponzu (citrus soy). The mixture is then served over baby arugula.

The Entrée Roast pork, shrimp, and braised pork ramen, $17

The Preparation Chef Watkins roasts and braises pork in a ginger-lemongrass-scented vegetable broth, which is lower in fat than a traditional meat-based broth. Once the pork is cooked, he pulls it apart and adds it back into the broth along with egg noodles, bean sprouts, yu choy, grilled shrimp, chile oil, cilantro, basil, green onions, and a poached egg. 1529 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0500

Twelve Restaurant

The Appetizer Mushroom soup with lemon thyme, $9

The Preparation Chef-owner Jeff Osaka simmers mushrooms, onion, celery, salt, pepper, vegetable stock, thyme, and bay leaves. He then blends the base in small batches, passes it through a fine strainer, adjusts seasonings, and serves immediately.

The Entrée Alaskan halibut with tomato fondue, garlic, and Manilla clams

The Preparation Chef Osaka sears lightly salted halibut until golden brown. The tomato fondue—a warm blend of olive oil, shallots, tomatoes, and basil—is plated first, followed by the fish and the garlicky clams cooked in vegetable stock. 2233 Larimer St., 303-293-0287

Fruition Restaurant

The Appetizer Grilled spring bean salad, $10

The Preparation Chef Alex Seidel mixes up haricot verts, yellow wax beans, fava beans, fresh chickpeas, and English peas to make this flavorful app. The long beans are marinated, grilled, chilled, and then tossed with a Castelvetrano olive vinaigrette and torn prosciutto. The warm component to this salad is the fingerling potatoes that have been confited and warmed up with shallots and parsley. The dish is topped with just a bit of egg mimosa (finely chopped whites and yolks).

The Entrée Pan-roasted black grouper, $26

The Preparation A white fish with a rela- tively meaty texture to it, the grouper is pan-roasted, topped with a rémoulade (egg, olive oil, mustard, capers, red onion, herbs, lemon juice) and served over a blue crab blini, which is made with Yukon gold potatoes, flour, and water. Seidel finishes the dish with a salad of fresh Hawaiian hearts of palm, shaved radishes, crispy potato frites, fresh micro chervil, and a fresh herb vinaigrette. 1313 E. Sixth Ave., 303-831-1962

Panzano

The Appetizer The charcuterie plate, $12

The Preparation Chef Elise Wiggins serves up a platter of shaved culattelo (center cut from the traditional leg of prosciutto) topped off with fresh blueberries, a small dice of 30-day-old pecorino, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon.

The Entrée Bistecca, $19

The Preparation More like a salad than a traditional entrée, the bistecca—grilled skirt steak served with an olive-oil-based basil pesto and wild Italian arugula—doesn't include a traditional starch, which keeps the carbs and calories at bay. 909 17th St., 303-296-3525

Olivéa

The Appetizer Valencia orange salad, $8

The Preparation A Sicilian-inspired dish, this salad blends Valencia oranges, red onion, fennel, green olive tapenade, pistachios, and parsley. The ultra-light dressing of sea salt, olive oil, and lemon juice allows the flavors of the other ingredients to shine.

The Entrée Spaghetti alla Chittara, $16

The Preparation Chef John Broening slices house-made pasta on the guitar cutter before boiling it with a dash of salt. He then combines the fresh spaghetti with olive oil, basil, garlic, capers, chile flakes, cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan. 719 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-5050

Solera

The Appetizer: Quinoa "pilaf" with morel and chanterelle mushrooms, truffled pea purée, and sautéed greens, $20

The Preparation: Chef Goose Sorensen roasts mushrooms, purées English peas with garlic, shallots, cream, and truffle oil, dresses wild greens with olive oil and garlic, and boils quinoa in vegetable stock until it blooms.

The Entrée: Alaskan halibut with roasted fingerling potatoes, chanterelles, smoked trout salad, and tomato tarragon vinaigrette, $30

The Preparation: For this multilayered dish, chef Sorensen roasts the fingerlings in duck fat and then sautés them with garlic, tarragon, leeks, and greens; roasts the chanterelles; combines smoked trout, crème fraîche, parsley, lemon zest, and olive oil for the salad; purées heirloom tomatoes with tarragon, garlic, olive oil, and sherry vinegar; and pan-sears the halibut. 5410 E. Colfax Ave., 303-388-8429