New healthy food restaurant at Santa Monica Place offers a menu of guilt-free choices endorsed by food guru Dr. Andrew Weil.
I discovered a new restaurant to add to my favorites list, the True Food Kitchen that just opened at Santa Monica Place, on the ground level between Colorado Avenue and Broadway. Sure, there are plenty of amazing restaurants in Los Angeles, but how many can you enjoy guilt-free because the ingredients and the preparation are done with a passion for quality cuisine that’s actually good for you?I was there for a pre-launch luncheon on Saturday, May 7 (it officially opened on May 9) with some of our Singular magazine staff, all with various ideas about what constitutes a good meal.
Our photo editor Valarie Bassett is “gluten free.” In most cases, it’s a hassle for Val to find menu items without hidden wheat ingredients. Not true at True Food Kitchen. Clearly noted on the menu, the gluten free selections made it easy for Val to select tasty treats like the Monterey Bay Sardines with Salsa Verde and Grilled Lemons, the All Natural Steak Tacos and the decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel.
It’s not just a mecca for the gluten free gang; the menu at True Food Kitchen includes selections for vegans and vegetarians (also noted on the menu), while still offering the carnivores amongst us the option of fish, turkey, chicken, beef and even grass fed bison.
I selected the bison burger, served with a side of tangy kale salad and sweet potato hash (braised, cubed yams seasoned with sea salt). Bison might not be your default choice when craving red meat, but it’s actually a smart choice. It’s leaner than other “on the hoof” meat and quite tasty as well.
Paolo Nana went for the King Salmon served with snap peas, asparagus and purple potato. He offered me a bite of the salmon and it melted in my mouth like warm butter – delicious! Other items on the table that were eagerly probed with our sampling forks included the Edamame Dumplings, Spicy Shrimp with Asian Noodles, and Spaghetti Squash Casserole with “spaghetti” made from zucchini, not wheat.
The new True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica is the newest in a group of True Food Kitchens developed in partnership with best-selling health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil and Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts. There’s an Orange County version at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
Dr. Weil, the cheery-looking food guru with the bushy white beard, was there making sure all was well for the launch of the newest location. You’ll recognize him as the best-selling author and editorial director of DrWeil.com, a leading online resource for healthy living based on the philosophy of integrative medicine. His books include the national bestsellers: Spontaneous Healing; 8 Weeks to Optimum Health; Eating Well for Optimum Health; The Healthy Kitchen, and Healthy Aging. As an internationally recognized expert, Weil is sought out for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle, his philosophy of healthy aging, and the future of medicine and health care.
The highly varied menu at True Food Kitchen features global cuisine, influenced by the Mediterranean, Asia and California. High-quality grains, vegetables, wild-caught fish, certified Angus natural beef, and free-range chicken are featured, and a variety of dishes are offered as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free, and menu notations make it easily identify choices, but did not include a calorie count ― something I’d like to see. Prices range from $6-25.
There’s a brunch offering on Saturday and Sunday that expands the regular lunch menu with breakfast items such as an Antioxidant Muffin with a Cranberry and Olivello Glaze; Tofu Scramble Wrap, a Breakfast Burrito and Market Vegetable Scramble with Sweet Potato Hash, Onion & Two Eggs. Brunch options are priced from $3-17.
The desert menu is both unique and tempting, with gluten free flourless chocolate cake leading the way for delicious sweet musings. Also featured is the dairy-free chocolate pudding generously sprinkled with walnuts and pistachios. My favorite was the light, delicately sweet almond olive oil cake with black berries and Greek yogurt.
The True Food folks are fine with letting customers imbibe in alcoholic beverages and offer an excellent selection of domestic, Italian and French wines by the bottle and by the glass. For the cocktail club, there’s inventive items like an Acai Mojito ($9) made with Veev Acai, Papagyo Organic Rum, Lemon Juice and Blueberry and the heavenly Flower Child ($10) made with Junipero Organic Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, Pineapple Juice, Honey Lemonade, Fennel and Mint. You can also order some interesting beers, like “Hop Rod Rye” and even sample a selection of Sake.
There are some outstanding non-alcoholic choices too: Honey Lemonade, the Cucumber Refresher and even something they call Hangover Rx made with coconut water, orange juice and pineapple.
The design and menu selections of True Food Kitchen are unique to each restaurant. The Santa Monica location features additional entrée choices, plus a full bar and specialty cocktails. “Green” elements are found throughout the interior and exterior, including planter boxes filled with fresh herbs. The décor’s color palette of lemon-twist yellow and apple green includes flooring in light and dark wood tones, soaring ceilings with exposed beams, and large sliding windows open to a sea breeze and golden afternoon light. A patio spans the entire length of the restaurant, featuring seating for small and large groups at tables, and lounge seats where you can kick back and relax.
In keeping with Dr. Weil’s healthy living philosophy, many materials selected for the restaurant are environmentally friendly ― including high-efficiency kitchen equipment, low-voltage LED lighting, low-VOC paint, reclaimed wood floors, compostable takeout containers and a Natura Water Purification Unit used to create still and carbonated bottled water in-house.
True Food Kitchen is open seven days a week. Reservations are available for parties of eight or more, with take-out service as well.
I suggest opting for the valet parking available right outside the restaurant’s 2nd Street entrance. First 3 hours are free with validation.
For more information, call (310) 593-8300 or visit www.truefoodkitchen.com.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2011 Singular Communications, LLC.