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Sticky tack 

Sticks Eatery opened in the Hydrostone a few months ago based on a simple concept. That is, as the menu says, “an effort to marry quick and convenient service with great tasting healthy food.” It’s been my experience that frequently the union of “quick” and “healthy” results in bland and boring. Here’s hoping Sticks can buck the trend.

The first thing you notice upon entering the storefront is the simplicity of the decor. Painted in dark sage green with natural dark-wood accents, the narrow room has a handful of tables but is dominated by the long counter behind which the food is prepared. And although you can eat in, Sticks is geared to grab and go. Orders are taken and paid for at the counter, and everything comes in take-out containers with disposable cutlery. Near the door, there are small recycling units so those who do eat in can do their part for the environment.

We survey the short menu, the main feature being skewers (hence, “Sticks”), and I notice they’ve helpfully listed the calories, fats, carbs and so on so that you can use nutritional values to make your decision, if you so wish. Indeed, on the back of the menu, Sticks “encourages you to stick to your health.” Most items are under 400 calories per serving; but some are very high in fat percentage, so be on the lookout for that. The full disclosure is awesome, though—I can’t think of any other menus in town that include this information for customers.

Along with roughly a half-dozen different skewers, there are sides of roasted vegetables, potatoes or quinoa with black beans. Two soups are on offer, a mulligatawny and chicken noodle, as well as custom-made salads—which have more ingredients than you can, well, shake a stick at. Along with the usual carrots, tomatoes and cucumber there is feta, pineapple, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. The skewers can also be served as paninis (for an extra $2), if you prefer. Three different chicken skewers, two seafood, a lamb and a veggie skewer is a nice selection—you’d be hard put to find someone who wouldn’t eat one of those.

There’s no dessert on the menu—“Nothing to tempt you,” says our friendly counter person with a chuckle.

We sit to wait for our food and are pleasantly surprised—the bare-looking chairs turn out to be very comfortable brown leather seats that are a pleasure to sit upon. While our skewers are cooking (everything is made to order), we dig into our soup and salad. The chicken noodle soup ($3) is everything you could ask for in a soup—big on chicken, egg noodles and a delicious broth. The salad ($5) is also worthy of praise, as all of the ingredients are fresh and crisp with no soggy vegetables or limp lettuce.

We’ve opted to have our skewers as paninis, and the sourdough bread that makes our skewer a sandwich is delicious. The peanut chicken ($8, or $6 as a skewer) is very nice indeed, seasoned well and of pleasant texture. Ginger-lemon shrimp ($8 or $6 as a skewer) is not too overpowering, with just enough ginger for a bite and plenty of lemon to make the flavour sparkle. Like the salads, you can choose what you want to put on your sandwich.

I really like Sticks. These meals are quick, cheap and tasty. Depending what you select, you can eat well with a fat-free conscience. I think they’ve succeeded in marrying quick, convenient and healthy—here’s to a long and beautiful relationship.

Sticks Eatery 5543 Young Street 478-4257 Daily 11am-9pm

Find more of Liz Feltham’s piercing reviews online at www.foodcritic.ca

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