Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Restaurant Opening: 'True Food Kitchen' Serves Up True Food in Santa Monica

Hamachi Sashimi with Shaved Spring Vegetables

Sometimes I don't want to cook.

I know, that's a terrible, dark, and dirty secret for a food blogger to admit. But it's the truth. Maybe the pressure is getting to me. Coming up with new recipes every week. Taking magazine-quality photos of them (I'm not there yet). Writing about them in an engaging, funny, heart-warming, appetite-inspiring, you pick it manner.

Running a blog is like running a mini-magazine. Where you do everything. All the time. Even the tech support. I suck at tech support. I'm learning... but I suck.

I do it to myself being the crazy-in-the-head, over-achieving, insane person that I am.

That's why it's such a relief to dine out on the town, like I did last night at new Santa Monica eatery True Food Kitchen. They officially launch next week on May 9th, but I got a sneak preview of their innovative dinner menu last night.

The brain child of health food pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil (he noshed right behind us last night), True Food Kitchen offers a menu of fresh, seasonal, healthy dishes that don't come out of the kitchen looking like rabbit food. This farm-to-table, healthy lifestyle approach  is very close to my little food blogger heart.

Last night, I stepped off the chilly streets (yes, even though it's ninety degrees in the hills, Santa Monica is still cool and breezy) and into True Food Kitchen's expansive, well-lit space which is decorated with pleasing soft green and wood tones. The large kitchen is entirely open across the back wall, allowing a view of the chefs working on your order. I also glimpsed a large fresh juice menu written on  a blackboard. It was clear that this was a special kind of restaurant.

The dinner menu was well-sized and divided into appetizers, salads, pizzas, entrees, and desserts. The only hard part was deciding what to order. For our starter, we chose "Today's Raw Fish," which was hamachi (yellow tail) sashimi with shaved asparagus, radishes, microgreens, all topped in a yuzu sauce. Perfectly seasoned, light, and flavorful, it was a perfect dish. And pretty on the eyes, too (see the top photo).

Fava & Ricotta Ravioli

For main courses, we selected the "Fava Bean & Ricotta Ravioli," a vegetarian option (the menu is very veggie and vegan friendly). To say that I'm obsessed with fava beans would be an understatement. My produce drawer is currently stuffed to the brim with long, green, voluptuous fava bean pods. I'd never thought to turn them into a ravioli, but they worked beautifully, the fresh ricotta lending them an even creamier texture. The raviolis were accompanied by thinly shaved artichoke, lovely tatsoi leaves (like a Japanese spinach) that were barely cooked, and Meyer lemon. I may have to try to make this at home.

Pan-Seared Halibut

For our other entree, we chose the "Pan Seared Halibut." One of my very favorite fish and usually a local, sustainable option to boot, this dish came out with a stunning presentation. The fish itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with just the right amount of salt and acid to bring out its delicate flavors. The garnishes of snap peas, purple potatoes, and shaved asparagus with just a hint of umami and miso really enhanced the dish. This was a real winner, and I'd order it again in a heartbeat.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crisp

After polishing off our plates, it was time for dessert. While all the offerings looked great including the vegan chocolate pudding, we ordered the "Strawberry & Rhubarb Crisp" with homemade vanilla ice cream. With strawberries at the peak of their season right now, this dish was simple, comforting, and delicious. The flavors were balanced with the right amount of sweet and tart.

Cucumber Citrus Skinny Margarita

The cocktails made with fresh pressed juices and the organic and biodynamic wine selections are also worth mentioning. With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, we tried the "Cucumber Citrus Skinny Margarita" and the "Ginger Margarita." Both were refreshing and fun, though the ginger packed a real punch.

True Food Kitchen truly lives up to its name. It took the stress out of cooking and allowed me to stay true to the way that I love to eat.


  1. The skinny margarita is the ticket! Food is great, but a cocktail can make a meal too. :)

  2. So true! I love special cocktails with fresh pressed juices. This whole mixology trend has me super excited. Thanks for checking out my article, and great seeing you at tea the other day!


  3. So good! I loved the skinny margarita. It's refreshing to not have all that sugar and fake margarita mix served to you. The halibut was amazing and I'm a HUGE fan of that dessert. I'd definitely go back. Next time I'll just remember my jacket. :-)

  4. I know, that halibut was awesome! A really cool restaurant... I'd try it again... :)

  5. you had HEE at skinny margarita also--i definitely want you to take me here when i come back to LA!

  6. We'll hit it up for sure! Can't wait for you to come back and visit... sans SARS.

  7. Jen, great review! I just went last night as per your recommendation and loved it! I'm also a big fan of Andrew Weil and have his CDs so I'm a tad jealous as this is a big celeb sighting to me :) The staff was excellent and the atmopshere was great as well. I had the curry dish with tofu which was amazing and we loved the edamame dumplings. My friend had the teriyaki brown rice bowl. The drinks were excellent as well and I tried the Acai Mojito and the Ginger Margarita (a bit spicy at first but then it was great). I didn't feel full and gross afterwards, just satisfied and healthy. I loved it and I have my whole meal planned for when I go back! - Kate