Preview dinner courtesy of True Foods Kitchen
True Food Kitchen is a chain, and this is comped meal, so if you’re a successful, monetizing, moral, food writer kinda guy/gal, please stop reading as of 3 seconds ago.
Last summer, 2 dozen blogger-types (and actual writers) were sent down to Costa Mesa for some supposedly healthy food. Nearly everyone was shocked at the palatable the food was at Seasons52. True Food Kitchen is all that, and a pair of chopsticks. It’s Seasons52, minus the dark booths, plus the light airy vaulted room, minus the severe 400cal menu, plus some Asian sushi. It’s the Westside appropriate child of Seasons52 and M Chaya, if M Chaya wasn’t so darn vegan.
Tue Food’s premise is a bitch shticky. There’s, of course, a restaurant group (Fox), there’s an executive corporate chef (Stebner), and then there’s the celebrity Harvard MD (Weil) backing the restaurant’s entire cooking theory with a “anti-inflammatory” diet. This is not a joke; Dr. Oz got himself a TV show, Dr. Weil is a spokesperson for a restaurant chain. But please, bracket all that out if you’re looking for a place after shopping at Santa Monica Place for hours.
No menu is healthy if not locally sourced and global; True Food is no different, hence you’ll see sashimi offered right on top of manchego cheese, puttanesca right below the Panag [sic] curry. The menu, though brief, is still rather unsettling for a person with ADD not on Ritalin. It is absolutely everywhere: Japan, China, Malaysia, Greece, Italy, and a wee bit of Mexico. Again, look past all the asterisks (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.). Chose what you want. Chose what you think will suck the least, and it’ll pleasantly surprise you.
In fact, start with the completely nut-job cocktail list. The cucumber-kumquat margarita is resolutely refreshing, especially when you hop over the word “skinny” on the cocktail menu. Tamarind margarita uses organic tequila, and offend no one except the old time cocktailers. Instead of getting edamame, go for a bowl of vegetable crudites. What arrives will be a rather daunting bowl of vegetables challenging you to sample purple broccoli, radish, zukes, and maybe some golden carrots and mini daikons. If not tasty, at least the root vegetable will humor you with its natural colors.
With it’s Arizonian portions, 2 entrees at True Food suffice even for dinner, especially if you plan on sharing dessert. Skip all the buzz words and go for the fish : halibut, salmon, cod. While the halibut that night was rather over salted, it was broiled with a nice top char, and absolutely flaky tender towards the middle. Again, look pass the hip descriptives on the menu (“umami” sauce) and just be happy the accompanying snap peas along with asparagus were both quickly fired to spot-on tenderness.
Despite the kitchen being in the absolute weeds (pun intended, see picture) the entire night, the level of execution is rather high. Half of the house is merely one row of planters away from the open kitchen running the entire length of the space. Towards the end is the cold station; Pam, good job for forcing your dumpling guy to step the heck up. And yes, Seasons52 is also using wonton wrappers in their “dumpling” slash “ravioli”, but what the hey, that’s the chef de cuisine getting her hands dirty in the rice flour below, respekt.
PS: ZOMG, Chopsticks!
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