Skinnys Health Foods, Henblas Street, Wrexham

Ambience - 8/10

Service - 9/10

Food quality - 10/10

Children welcome - Yes

Disabled access - Yes

THERE appears to be a stampede for healthy eating in Wrexham as staff at Skinnys will testify to.

Queues for the clean eating diner extended down Henblas Street soon after it opened last month. A kitchen upgrade is now underway to cater for the booming business apparently after some menu choices ran out in the first few days.

Health food cafes may be a staple diet of the big city dining scene, but they are a real novelty in provincial towns. Could it be time for Wrexham’s diners to ditch the burger joints in favour of a healthier take-out?

Skinnys owner Katie Tilsley thinks so and the youthful lunchtime crowd who were enjoying selecting their own ‘build a box’ meals suggests she could be on to a winner.

But it wasn’t just the young and bohemian making the most of the healthy menu when the Leader visited. The 60-something perched a high on the bar stool diner wasn’t being curmudgeonly about his food. He enthused over the vegan special ‘Out of Africa’, a vegetarian curry whose flavours appeared to be almost spilling out of its modest box.

Takeaway or eat in, Skinnys menu offers customers the choice of building up their meal in four easy stages. First pick your protein with chicken, steak, prawns and even tofu among the options. Add a base of brown or bulgur rice or sweet potato mash and then choose from a host of vitamin-enhancing greens such as broccoli, butter beans and spinach salads. Throw on some sauces and you’re away.

The African vegetarian curry was the easier option for me and it had the seal of approval too from a man who could probably remember Wrexham town centre without McDonalds or Burger King.

Takeaways are about fast food, so the ten-minute wait was reasonable for the quality on offer. And you are encouraged to take to one of the cafe’s wooden benches or aluminium stools while your grub is being cooked in what is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

‘Out of Africa’ didn’t disappoint either. It arrived on a bed of brown rice with accompanying pots of salsa, coconut, banana and chutney – the chutney didn’t open by the way, but a replacement was soon provided. It brimmed with heat and freshness and the combination of flavours were distinctive, but easy on the palate.

All in all it hit the spot without being too hot to ruin the taste and it was more than adequately filling without leaving me feeling bloated. Gut instinct told me what I was eating was good for me, although that will be in writing too when nutritional boards are put in place in the cafe soon.

But there are no shortcuts here with food preparation. You can see the food being freshly made, steamed and grilled in front of you.

There may be more traditional dining fare too, but the cafe’s healthy principles are never too far away so the beef in the chilli con carne is ultra lean, while the fish and chips have grilled sea bass and the rump steak is served with scrambled egg white and beetroot.

There is a range of smoothies and green teas to choose from. Even the dessert is kind on your waistline. Protein brownies, balls and waffles were the final enticement. I declined, but they still looked a nice way to top off a visit to what could be Wrexham’s healthiest takeaway.

The bill

'Out of Africa' vegetarian curry - £6.95

Bottle of mineral water - £1