Lo-Cal Kitchen Changes The Health Food Game

The Lean And Mean Burger

The holidays are long gone, but the pounds we packed on are not. It might be time to alter the high-calorie lifestyle—but no sane person wants to sacrifice taste in the process. Enter Lo-Cal Kitchen, which opened last May on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale. The light, bright and breezy fast-casual eatery, with plenty of seating for dining in, offers a robust menu of health food with a twist—it actually tastes good.

Husband and wife duo Jeff and Debi Feinstein, of Roslyn, said they decided to open Lo-Cal Kitchen after years of cooking at home in a style that naturally cut down on sugars and refined carbs. After enlisting executive chef Stephen Meade, the crew built a menu of minimally processed and nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, high-fiber fruits and veggies, complex carbs, good fats, lean meats and a healthy dose of superfoods. It’s all wrapped in a vision that promotes freshness, according to Jeff.

“We make it very easy to count calories,” said Jeff, a cofounder of Buy Buy Baby. “But the food is delicious and everything is made in house.”

The lengthy, made-to-order menu jumps from juice shots and smoothies to grain bowls and salads to burgers and chilis, all without missing a beat. Starting with the salads, all made with high-quality produce, customers can choose one of five menu salads or build their own with two greens, one protein, four toppings and one dressing. The predetermined salads include offerings such as Kale To The Caesar (330 calories), with kale, romaine, grilled chicken, house-made croutons, Parmesan and Caesar dressing; Buffalo Chicken Salad (310 calories), with romaine, chicken, carrots, celery, tomato, blue cheese, hot sauce and a light ranch dressing; and the Athena (380 calories), with romaine, seared shrimp, cucumber, tomato, Kalamata olives, feta and chickpeas with Greek dressing.

There’s also grain bowls, where quinoa takes center stage with wilted kale. The standout was the Thai Peanut bowl (420 calories), which brings together red quinoa from Peru, kale, seared shrimp, roasted broccoli, roasted peppers, scallion and edamame with a flavorful Thai peanut sauce that hit all the classic, pungent notes that a Thai sauce needs to hit.

The salads and bowls are all made in plain sight of the customer, as are the burgers and sandwiches, which are grilled to order as you wait. The beef at Lo-Cal is grass-fed, while the eatery also has patties of bison, chicken, turkey and a sweet potato quinoa veggie.

Brussel Quinoa Salad

As with the salads, burgers come as predetermined recipes or in the build-your-own fashion with one protein, one cheese, one topping and one condiment. This eater decided to go with a bison burger with cheese, caramelized onions and blueberry ketchup on a whole grain wheat bun. The lean bison was fat with flavor and the burger dripped with decadent juices. Other burgers on tap include The Lean And Mean (520 calories), the Fiery Pickle (386 calories) and the Bacon & Blue (400 calories).

What really sets Lo-Cal apart is the glass case of prepared food, with an utterly incredible amount of grub available. Listing all of the available items here is near impossible, but a few of the standouts include the mac & cheese, which is made with real cheese that is cleverly blended with butternut squash to cut the calories down. Then there’s buffalo chicken meatballs, which could easily be eaten by the dozen, and cauliflower fried rice, cauliflower risotto and Egg Roll In A Bowl, which allows eaters to enjoy the inside of the eggroll without worrying about the empty calories of the fried exterior. Lo-Cal also created the Cheatza, which is a delectable pizza with a crust made out of chicken.

Don’t forget about the most important meal of the day. Yes, breakfast makes a triumphant appearance at Lo-Cal, with egg sandwiches and omelettes available all day. Egg sandwiches include the Jump Start (270 calories), with egg whites, feta spread, sliced tomatoes and house-made guacamole on a whole grain wheat roll; the Player (315 calories) with egg whites, turkey bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and reduced sugar ketchup on a whole grain wheat roll; and the must-order Warrior, featuring egg whites topped with house-made bison sausage, cheddar cheese and turkey bacon jam on a whole grain wheat roll. Other breakfast items include steel cut oats, a quinoa-based breakfast power bowl and whole wheat pancakes.

Coffee is an all-important way of life at Lo-Cal Kitchen. The eatery brews the jittery stuff from For Five Coffee Roasters, based in Queens. Served in medium roast and dark roast, the coffee is robust yet subtle, with a strong constitution that doesn’t bog down the drinker with bitterness. There’s also an array of espressos and a Nitro Cold Brew coffee. The coffee pairs great with the house-made muffins and breads.

Beyond what you see in the store, Lo-Cal kitchen also offers catering, as well as a meal prep plan for those looking to plan their meals ahead.

Lo-Cal Kitchen, 5 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale; 516-625-3300; www.lo-calkitchen.com

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Steve Mosco
Steve Mosco, the former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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