Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Healthy Meal for Our 300th Post!

True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

When I first started this blog two and a half years ago I never dreamed of reaching 300 posts. That is a lot of eating! I also never thought it would be this much fun. I have really enjoyed meeting all of you, whether it is through email, comments, or even in person at various food related events. I would have also never thought that our 300th post would be a health conscious restaurant, but here we are at True Food Kitchen.

True Food Kitchen does not want to put itself out there as a health food restaurant. Instead they want you to think of them as a nutritious restaurant that focuses on flavor and taste. The menu at True Food is guided by Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti Inflammatory Food Pyramid. This is Dr. Weil's eating guide to help reduce the risks of age related diseases and improve overall health through the diet. Of course I go way off of the pyramid, but I am game to try it for at least one night, as long as the food tastes good.

True Food is located right next to Fleming's Steakhouse at Fashion Island. We arrived at 6:30 on a Thursday night to a bustling dining room and a twenty minute wait. Once we were seated the airy and bright colored dining room became apparent. Wood floors and lots of green's and yellows around the room added to the earthiness of this restaurant. Just in case you do not get the vibe of this place, check out the zen garden, complete with a rake, near the restroom. Enough of the ambiance of this place, lets checkout what comes out of the kitchen.

The drink menu at True Food is a little funky because of the absence of Coke, Pepsi, and other soft drinks. These apparently do not fit inside the food pyramid. What does fit inside the pyramid are their Natural Refreshments, such as the Medicine Man beverage above. This antioxidant blast combines pomegranate, sea buckthorn, cranberry, black tea and soda. The result was a refreshing drink that was not overly sweet and quenched Katie's thirst. A little pricey at $6, so I just stuck with regular iced tea.

The first of our two appetizers was the Grilled Shrimp Spring Roll. The spring roll was very fresh, full of shrimp, green papaya, soba and cashew. The spring rolls were fine on their on, but really brought to life by the sauce that accompanied them. Not sure what the sauce was or what it was made of, but it really added the kick start to get these rolls going.

When Katie ordered the Caramelized Onion Tart, I was a little skeptical. After a few bites I was turned into a believer of this starter. Smoked garlic, black fig, and Gorgonzola joined the onion to create this delicious appetizer. I could have eaten this whole thing by myself. The tart was kind of like a flat bread. The sweetness from the fig and caramelized onion were balanced nicely by the jolt from the Gorgonzola. This is a must get when coming here.

Matt was not too excited by any of the appetizers here, so he ordered the odd sounding Strawberry Chopped Salad. I am pretty anti-fruit in my salad so I did not get a chance to try this. The salad of course had strawberries, snap peas, fennel, goat cheese, and walnuts, with balsamic vinaigrette. Matt was not too into this salad saying, "it lacked flavor and there was not enough dressing on it".

Now on to the entrees and Rene's choice, the All Natural Steak Tacos. These mini street sized tacos came with avocado, cotija cheese, tomatillo salsa, red onion, and sour cream. Rene felt that the steak was tender and it was flavored well. She was also a big fan of the salsa used here. The tacos were served with a bowl of Anasazi Beans. There was no mention of how these beans tasted, but the bowl really looks huge in the pictures, towering over the tiny tacos.

Matt was feeling Italian, so he looked no further than the Turkey Bolognese. This gluten free pasta was made of brown rice pasta, and served with ground turkey and Parmesan cheese. Matt liked the little bit of spice in the sauce, but was less than thrilled with the rest of the dish. He claims that the pasta was not as good a regular, with gluten, pasta. It is hard making gluten free pasta taste as good as the real thing. Matt will shy away from this dish on future visits here.

Katie had looked at the menu before our visit here and knew exactly what she would be getting for dinner, the  Asparagus and Artichoke Pizza. Joining the, "A list" of vegetables was smoked mozzarella, oregano, and sweet onion. Katie detected a pine flavor in bites of this pizza. She enjoyed this mellow pizza and felt the asparagus was the highlight of this pie.

It was a real dilemma for me to choose from the menu here. I went with the safest bet for me, the Grass Fed Bison Burger. Yes you read that right, bison! This buffalo-like burger was complimented with onion, Parmesan cheese, umami, mushroom, and mayo on a flax seed bun. I went in with low expectations of this burger, but was pleasantly surprised. This burger had a turkey burger feel to it, but it was juicier. The mushroom and cheese probably accounted for some of this juiciness, but it was a very well put together burger. Even the flax seed bun did not detract from the burger as much as I thought it would. This burger was served with two sides, a kale salad and a sweet potato hash. The kale salad did nothing for me. Not really a big fan. The hash was not bad, but I am not too much into sweet potatoes. It was the best of the two though.

We were out with Matt, so of course dessert was a must. Matt is strange when it comes to desserts. He does not enjoy chocolate in the least. He is more of a fruit guy. So it was no surprise that he would get the Lemon Tart with strawberries and coconut cream. We all felt the lemon was refreshing, and the flavor of this was really good. Not surprisingly, the crust was a little off for me on this. Of course it is gluten free.

Rene is not averse to chocolate, so her selection was the Flourless Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel. This cake is made with 72 percent cocoa, which of course made the chocolate very prominent here. What did not stand out was the caramel. I had two bites of this and did not detect any of the sweet stuff. Decent flourless cake, but I will stick to regular cakes full of flour.

The dessert that everyone agreed was the best of the night belonged to Katie. It was the Banana Chocolate Tart with something called a mesquite flour crust and crushed Brazil nuts all over it. The banana was very ripe, the chocolate was pronounced, and the crust did not get in the way of the filling. The Brazil nuts were a nice touch here. Not a dessert that will blow you away, but this is the dessert to get here.

I was in a weird mood, and my choice is not typical of me, so please do not judge. I had the Dairy Free Organic Chocolate Pudding. Walnuts and pistachios were added to this dessert. Of course the taste of this was a little off. Kind of gritty tasting and not real smooth. I came to the realization after eating this that pudding must include milk to taste good. I know, shocking.

True Food Kitchen is not my kind of place for sure, but I did not mind eating here. If I was to come back, the Bison Burger would be my choice for sure, assuming that it were still on the menu. They change their menu about four times a year, corresponding to the seasons. I could definitely find something on their menus to order on future visits here. Prices were not out of hand, considering the area. Starters were in the $5 to $12 range, while entrees went from $14 to $24. Our service was really pretty good. A little slow in spots, but we were having a nice leisurely meal anyways. Not really what I imagined our 300th post to be, but there are definitely worse places to eat, (I'm looking at you Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.)

Out of five zen gardens, (because I could still not get that out of my head, and I could not think of anything else to tie in here), five being best to zero being worst, True Food Kitchen gets 3 zen gardens.

For more information on True Food Kitchen, click here:

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  1. Great post, great pictures and congrats on the blogging milestone. I really enjoy this blog.

    Regarding drinks... When I am eating a meal at a "nicer" place, I try to stick with water. It lets me really taste everything.

  2. Taylor - Thanks for the kind words. Glad you read the blog, and I am looking forward to doing another 300 or so posts. Good tip about the water, I usually go for regular iced tea. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I love True Food Kitchen! They do a special daily water (complimentary) and it's usually cucumber water -- so good and flavorful. You just have to ask for it although I doubt you'll return again :)

  4. Anita - I have heard about the water. Should have tried it. I would not say that I won't be back, but there are lots of other places to try. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Which is better Pepsi or Coca-Cola?
    ANSWER THE POLL and you could get a prepaid VISA gift card!