I remember the first time I came across someone following a gluten-free diet.
I was sixteen years old and visiting my brother in Los Angeles and amazed to see his roommate eating a cheeseburger patty swaddled in lettuce. Is this a thing? I asked. Of course it is, he told me.
Trust California to be ahead of the curve.
Today, over a decade and a half later, it’s almost the norm. Dietary trends and the latest superfoods change by the week: milk can now be dairy free, avocados are a staple, quinoa is king and gluten-free labels are all over supermarket products.
Looking to enjoy a meal that lives up to my own food preferences, and those of my health-conscious wife, we take a trip to Masdar City to try out Skinny Genie.
On the window, the trendy food spot declares that the food is dairy free, low in salt, gluten free, organic and sugar free – that’s basically the full bingo card of in-vogue food crazes.
Oozing hipster chic – Skinny Genie wouldn’t look out of place in London or Los Angeles – the chilled, albeit small, venue is a bright, welcoming spot that’s an ideal lunch destination.
All the food is made in house, and displayed on the shelves in glass jars, so all you have to do is select what you want to take away or let the staff prepare your food to be served at your table.
I start with the mozzarella and tomato salad. It’s light and fresh and packed with creamy mozzarella, tangy tomatoes, pesto sauce and a fistful of rocket.
For the main, I devour the braised lamb shank that’s irresistibly succulent.The accompanying ratatouille packs a tomato-laced punch – both are immensely satisfying.
My wife makes easy work of a chicken tikka masala loaded with delicately-spiced meat and fragrant beetroot served with cumin rice.
Unable to say no to the baked sweet treats on offer, we team up to demolish the skinny dark chocolate fondant oozing with a molten chocolate centre. Sublime.
For a meal that’s a friend to both your stomach and taste buds, Skinny Genie is well worth the trip.
Need to know
Location: Skinny Genie, behind Siemens building, Masdar City
We say: A perfect new lunch spot ideal for special diets
Cost: AED 172 for two
Opening times: Sat-Thu 9am-11pm, Fri 11am-11pm
Contact: 02 418 2525, skinny-genie.com
WORDS Colin Armstrong