Healthy cafe hidden in spa

February 27, 2009 10:08:22 AM PST
In the wake of Fat Tuesday, our Hungry Hound is taking a healthier approach to eating this week.He's on the hunt for food that's fit for a spa, especially where vegetarian dishes dominate.

Sometimes, you find the most interesting menus in the unlikeliest of places. I would have never heard about the Antalee Cafe if it wasn't for my mother-in-law, who happened to discover it while visiting the tiny spa. It's not on a major street, and the signage is hard to spot, but if you're looking for healthy, delicious food with a Russian accent, it's worth the trip.

Just because they're making massage appointments and giving manicures, doesn't mean food takes a backseat. But it is hard to spot from the outside because at the Antalee Spa and Wellness Center in downtown Glenview, the cafe is tucked away in back. It's the result of the owner's own personal health transformation.

"When I moved to United States I started getting bad sinus problems, headaches, depression, everything and nobody could cure it. Then I was introduced to a macrobiotic diet which brought my body into balance," said Aneta Arutcheva, owner of Antalee Wellness Center. "Macrobiotic is the energetic approach to food, like the ying and yang, balance; like root vegetables are more yang, than leafy are more ying; and bring them into balance, brown rice is the balanced grain."

Arutcheva's father, Gary, is the cook. He uses as much organic produce as possible, integrating it into fresh juices, steaming it to retain nutrients and whipping up colorful vegetarian-friendly platters.

"When we were kids he was always - simple things he would prepare with such a taste; he had the feeling, the heart for cooking, and I said 'you know what, we'll make you work too," said Aneta Arutcheva.

Soup of the day might include a hearty borscht, loaded with cabbage, carrots and beets, but he might also be inspired to make salads of shitake mushrooms with mashed sweet potatoes, or crisp daikon radish shredded with cooked seaweed. Zucchini chunks are steamed and sometimes served with giant ground turkey patties that have been sprinkled with pulverized goji berries. His Russian background also comes through in warm, flaky turnovers stuffed with either cabbage or ground lamb.

The cafe is small - only three tables - but Aneta Arutcheva says deliveries and to-go orders keep her father plenty busy during the week.

"We have deliveries that we do, standing, we have people who eat here everyday because the food is healing," she said.

They do a lot of pick-up and delivery, so that's another option.

Antalee Cafe
1834 Glenview Rd.