With a wide, healthy selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options True Food Kitchen offers nutritious, seasonal cuisine with something delicious and memorable for everyone.
True Food Kitchen (TFK) changes their menu with seasonal dishes four times a year and, as someone who prefers to eat (and cook) with the seasons, I’ve written about the Newport Beach location since their opening in 2010. Eating seasonal is getting back to the basic foundation of how people used to eat when they grew their own food. It focuses on consuming foods during the time of year that they’re grown and harvested, which allows you to eat the food when it is freshest, tastiest and most nutrient prime.
Before I go further, let me just say that TFK was a pioneer of the now ubiquitous kale salad and their Tuscan Kale Salad (shown above) is a traditional Tuscan salad made of strips of Tuscan black kale (also known as lacinto or dinosaur kale), tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, grated Grana Padano cheese and bread crumbs – it’s been on the menu since day one and has become one of TFK’s iconic dishes.
True Food Kitchen is founded on the principles of co-owner, physician, and best-selling wellness author Dr. Andrew Weil. The menu is rooted in Weil’s “anti-inflammatory food pyramid” that emphasizes whole grains, healthy herbs and spices, lean protein, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Weil states that the anti-inflammatory diet isn’t meant to deprive a healthy body of great flavors, it’s meant to take popular trends in cuisine and pair them with healthy living.
This means embracing the current cocktail and spirit renaissance in addition to offering their non-alcoholic juices and refreshers. Industry beverage trends include a focus on hyper-local ingredients, house made every thing, herbal liqueurs, and a continuing move away from vodka to more complex spirits, specifically gin, whiskey and rum. True Food Kitchen is on trend with their fall cocktails including a lovely Apple Ginger Mule made with fig infused vodka, lime juice, ginger honey, freshly juiced apple and a splash of soda and the fabulous Autumn Orchard Sour brimming with warming spices of muddled pear, house made mulled brandy, apple and lemon juices adorned with a cinnamon dusted lemon wheel. I’ll be returning for this cocktail, and the Charred Cauliflower (more on this below).
We started with a selection of appetizers, first off, a colorful Chioggia Beet Bruschetta. The bruschetta is comprised of a velvety vegan almond ricotta, along with amaranth, arugula, and pomegranate molasses atop the amazing Dave’s Killer Bread (organic, whole grain, non GMO). The almond ricotta is so creamy it’s hard to believe that it’s not dairy based.
Next we moved on to my favorite new menu item, the Charred Cauliflower with harissa tahini, Medjool dates, dill, mint, and pistachio. The combination of green and white cauliflower is visually appealing and, with a sweet note from the dates, the subtly spicy, nutty tahini and aromatic herbs, this dish will delight your tastebuds.
For an entree selection, the whole family will enjoy the Butternut Squash Pizza with smoked onion, organic kale, vegan almond ricotta, and dried cranberries. Again, hard to believe that it is dairy free as the almond ricotta has the look and texture of fresh ricotta. Chef Chris, who took exceptional care of us all evening, said that guests have actually sent it back thinking that the creamy garlic puree is cheese. You can see it peeking out from under the toppings – made from garlic, grapeseed oil, evaporated cane sugar and kosher salt, it’s insanely good and I made a note to recreate it at home.
My Autumn Orchard Sour was quickly quaffed and we decided to taste two more seasonal libations. The Thai Grapefruit Martini is pretty in pink and a well balanced drink of Prairie Organic vodka, fresh grapefruit and lime juice, simple syrup and a Thai basil leaf garnish. Perfect for staunch vodka and Cosmopolitan lovers and, while it may seem to be more of a summer cocktail, grapefruit is a winter fruit and citrus flavors are always a winner in my book. The Farmers Market Sangria includes spiced brandy, organic red wine, orange juice and simple syrup with seasonal fruits (currently, diced pear and citrus slices).
Although True Food Kitchen takes dietary restrictions very seriously, they are not a strictly vegan/vegetarian restaurant. Meat and seafood selections include a Turkey Burger, Grass Fed Burger, Grilled Chicken, Smoked Turkey Wrap, Grilled Steak Tacos, Grilled Seabass Tacos, Lasagna Bolognese, Scottish Steelhead Trout (similar to salmon), Sustainable Seabass, Seared Albacore Tuna, and a new fall item – the Pan Roasted Chicken.
A generous portion of skin-on half chicken boasts dark and white meat that is moist and flavorful bathed in an apple-rosemary jus, then topped with a colorful collage of squash, Cannellini beans and braised Swiss chard – definitely shareable or enough for a perfect lunch the next day. Alongside, we also enjoyed another bountiful plate of gorgeous roasted cruciferous vegetables in the Seasonal Ingredient Salad: Brussels sprouts, Butternut squash, cauliflower, white bean sprinkled with toasted mulberries and dried pomegranate arils with a zippy horseradish vinaigrette. Truly unique – I don’t recall ever seeing toasted mulberries on any dish and loved their surprising nutty crunchiness.
The restaurant’s clean lines and urban, eco-chic decor punctuated with splashes of vibrant green is relaxing and comfortable and serves to reinforce TFK’s commitment to sustainability and fresh ingredients. Large expanses of glass draw your eye out to our gorgeous Southern California skies and a lovely outdoor patio where many prefer to dine.
Since opening in Phoenix in 2008, True Food Kitchen’s health conscious concept has expanded to cities in 10 states and is slated to open five more locations in 2017/18. True Food Kitchen wants you to feel better, live longer, and make your mouth happy in the process. Visit their website to find a location near you.
True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660