Restaurant Week Toledo offers healthy options for dinersWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT) organizers want everyone to be able to feel good about enjoying a meal out to benefit a great cause.
For the second year, the Leadership Toledo fundraiser has partnered with presenting sponsor Medical Mutual to ensure each participating restaurant offers at least one healthy dish.
A Leadership Toledo survey showed 31 percent of last year’s RWT diners chose one of the dishes designated as a healthy option, said Mark Tooman, communications manager for Medical Mutual.
“Diners were pleased that there was a healthy option available to them,” Tooman said. “Nearly one out of every three meals chosen was the healthy option. I believe this showed that having a healthy option is important to the customer and that healthy eating has become a mindset for more people.”
Each restaurant’s healthy option was reviewed by Connie Beutel, Medical Mutual’s manager of health promotion and wellness, who offered suggestions on ways to make the dishes even healthier, Tooman said.
A healthy diet helps maintain a healthy body weight and helps prevent or lessen the negative effects of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, particularly when combined with exercise, stress management and other healthy habits, Tooman said.
“As health care and health insurance options change, consumers are being required to take a bigger role in maintaining their health. Healthy eating choices are one way they can be proactive, whether they are at home or dining out at a restaurant,” Tooman said. “By incorporating a healthy option into the Restaurant Week menus, people will be able to make smart choices while supporting a great cause in Leadership Toledo.”
The fourth annual RWT is set for Feb. 24 through March 2. All participating restaurants are locally owned. Each will feature a special RWT menu priced at $10, $20 or $30. (Drinks, taxes and gratuities are not included unless specified.) A portion of proceeds will benefit two of local nonprofit Leadership Toledo’s youth programs: Youth Leadership Toledo and Students in Action.
Participating restaurants are 5th Street Pub, Avenue Bistro, The Beirut, Black Kite, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), The Café at The Oliver House, Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Element 112, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Koreana, La Scola Italian Grill, Loma Linda, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Mancy’s Steaks, Packo’s at the Park, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Shorty’s True American Roadhouse, social., The Original Tony Packo’s, TREO, Ventura’s and Zinful.
A sold-out kickoff party, sponsored by Hylant, is set for Feb. 19, featuring food samples from several RWT menus as well as craft beer and wine tastings, live entertainment and more.
Everything at TREO is made from scratch, said General Manager Nate Schank. The Sylvania eatery’s designated RWT healthy option dish is rustico tagliatelle, featuring saffron tagliatelle with sauteed sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, eggplant, butternut squash and toasted pine nuts in a light, smooth Parmesan pesto with fresh basil.
“The pasta is handmade in house. We make the dough from scratch and roll it out per order, which allows us to have total control of ingredients from beginning to end,” Schank said. “That’s something not everyone does and something we really take pride in.”
Schank said he’s noticed more customers asking for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
“As customers become more health-conscious, we want to cater to that, but also lead that taste by creating options that are tasty but also healthy,” Schank said.
Registry Bistro will offer two healthy choice entrees for RWT: grilled market fish with sprout slaw, five-spiced yams and chorizo hash and grilled winter vegetable ramen with poached egg.
“I like to incorporate things that really pack a punch of flavor, but it’s a little healthier,” said chef and co-owner Erika Rapp.
Rapp said she knows dining out can be stressful for people with dietary restrictions, so she marks all menu items as vegetarian, gluten-free or nut-free to help take the guesswork out of ordering.
“I wanted to identify dishes on the menu so people can order independently and dine with more freedom,” Rapp said. “It’s a conscious effort that I make. We are also always happy to modify dishes to meet specific needs. We do that all the time.”
Mancy’s Italian Grill will offer grilled halibut with pea shoot salad, truffled honey-mustard and corn penne pomodori. The honey is locally produced, the pasta is gluten-free and the whole entree has fewer than 550 calories, said Managing Partner George Mancy.
“Halibut is a nice, white flaky fish,” Mancy said. “It’s really good for you. It’s low in calories, low in sodium and it’s a good source of protein. It’s a nice big meal that’s still light. I think people are going to be excited to try it.”
The Café at The Oliver House will offer a tangy black bean burger with avocado slices, provolone cheese and salsa fresco grilled on a whole wheat roll and served with a chopped salad.
“As far as a veggie burger is concerned, it’s one of the best I’ve tried personally,” said Neal Kovacik, general manager of Oliver House operations. “It’s got good flavor and texture and people seem to really like it.”
Burger Bar 419, Tony Packo’s and Rockwell’s might not come to mind as vegetarian-friendly, but all three eateries plan to offer vegetarian options for RWT.
Burger Bar 419 will offer a falafel salad, featuring chickpeas ground with fresh parsley, onions, garlic and spices set atop crisp romaine with cucumber yogurt dressing, tomatoes, olives and red onion. Packo’s will serve vegetarian chili mac (vegetable chili loaded with zucchini, squash, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans and barley spread over dumplings with cheese and onions).
The Oliver House’s steakhouse, Rockwell’s, will offer a platter-roasted fresh vegetable medley sprinkled with a lemon and honey vinaigrette and served with a side of fettuccine.
“Our chef came up with it,” Kovacik said of the dish, which is not found on the regular menu, but is occasionally made as a special request for vegetarian guests. “He has a special sauce that goes over it. We were going to do fish, but decided to go vegetarian just because we thought it’d be a nice contrast to the steaks. It’s very filling.”
Plate 21 has no shortage of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, including its popular edamame kale salad, said owner Sandy Spang. Other healthy RWT options include Avenue Bistro’s chicken picatta, Black Kite’s Asian pear and lentil salad with grilled chicken and Zinful’s duck ceviche.
“Our Medical Mutual healthy option is a spin on what is traditionally a fish preparation,” said Zinful owner Joyce Franzblau. “We elected to use duck as an alternative to demonstrate that healthy does not have to be typical meatless or fish entrées. All of our menu items offered during Restaurant Week are also gluten-free. We recognize the trend and are trying to stay ahead of it by making healthy food interesting and delicious.”
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of RWT.
For more information, visit www.restaurantweektoledo.com.
Tags: 5th Street Pub, Avenue Bistro, Black Kite, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Element 112, General Manager Nate Schank, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Koreana, La Scola Italian Grill, Leadership Toledo, Loma Linda, Mancy's Steaks, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Mark Tooman communications manager for Medical Mutual, Medical Mutual, Medical Mutual’s manager of health promotion and wellness, onnie Beutel, Packo’s at the Park, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT), Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie's Italian Grille, Shorty's True American Roadhouse, social., The Beirut, The Café at The Oliver House, The Original Tony Packo’s, Treo, truffled honey-mustard and corn penne pomodori, Ventura's, Zinful.