True Food Kitchen has come to the Bay Area at the new Broadway Plaza Mall in Walnut Creek, and I must say, if and when I find myself back at the Broadway Plaza Mall in Walnut Creek, I will return to the True Food Kitchen for a satisfying meal! Co-founded by best-selling author Andrew Weil, MD, in Phoenix, True Food Kitchen now has 16 locations nationwide with four additional locations opening in the next two years. I must admit, I am not one to dine at “corporate” restaurants, much less visit or eat at the mall, but I was intrigued by this restaurant upon receiving an invitation to the soft opening and thought I would give it a try, and I am very glad I did. Let me say, if THIS is what all “corporate” restaurants in the mall could look like and taste like, we would be a much healthier society! So, to that, I say a solid “thank you!” to Dr. Weil and his partner, Sam Fox!
Now, on to the Bites ‘n Sips!
My dining partner and I started with a few drinks. I opted for the Ginger Margarita (ginger honey, lemon, elderflower liqueur, añejo tequila) while she chose Kale Aid (kale, ginger, apple, celery, cucumber) and both were delicious and refreshing in their own ways! My friend wisely followed her detox with a retox in the form of a Sparkling Rose from Napa.
We then added two fresh and clean and taste-bud friendly starters to the mix in the form of the Wild Caught Albacore Tuna Tataki and the Farmer’s Market Crudite for 2 (there is an option for 4 as well). The tatake was as good if not better as any I have had in a Sushi restaurant, and was served with a nice balance of soy, wasabi, and onion. The Farmer’s Market Crudite is an awesome forest of colorful fresh vegetables served with tzatziki & black olive dip. We thought this was a fun appetizer that you don’t normally see at a restaurant!
After spending a lot of time looking over the menu choices including pizzas, salads, bowls and sandwiches, we settled on two entrees: Scottish Steelhead “Salmon” with smoked onion farro, arugula, roasted beet, cilantro pumpkin seed pesto and the Pan Roasted Chicken with maple glazed squash, cannellini bean, swiss chard, apple rosemary jus. Note that “salmon” is in quotes because, as the awesome server, James, explained to us, it is actually Trout, which many people don’t realize is in the same family as salmon and that this a high-quality wild-caught fish. The fish was good and it WAS flavorful, however I felt it was over-seasoned. For me, salmon and trout have so much flavor on their own, they need very little meddling. This dish had a sprinkling of a salt-based seasoning on the top which was great in and of itself, but then it was set atop a wide swath of the pesto which was simply over bearing and which I would have rather have eaten with a lamb chop! Additionally, the side salad that came with it had even more seasoning with a vinegar-heavy dressing. I think that the chefs might want to reconsider the degree of seasoning on this dish and serve it a bit more restrained. I would certainly order this dish again, but knowing its preparation might ask for less of the pesto, or to have it on the side and, instead have the fish atop the very tasty smoked onion farro.
For us, the winner was the Pan Roasted Chicken (my picture doesn’t do it justice, sorry). It was a cool, gray Autumn
day and this dish really appealed to the seasonal senses. The chicken was cooked perfectly, with skins on to allow for the meat to be moist but the skin wasn’t rubbery as often can happen but, instead, was crispy and flavorful. The squash, beans and chard were a perfect complement and the rosemary jus a mouth watering bath to soak up all of these yum-yums! If I ordered just one thing upon my return, it would be this, and I would order another glass of the Italian Cannonau di Sardegna
to go along with it!
As for value, well, that’s always quite relative, isn’t it? Granted, we ate a much bigger lunch than we normally would, and took the opportunity to try a variety of bites ‘n’ sips, and that can all add up. Its hard for me to not find myself wondering why I would spend this kind of money at a restaurant in a mall, but if I just set that aside and look at what Dr. Weil and his partners have set out to achieve, then I see this as a successful endeavor, and as I mentioned at the start, if only ALL restaurants that cater to a wider and more “mainstream” customer base were this healthy and flavorful and mindful, well, I guess i
would be eating at the mall every day! I definitely recommend you try the True Food Kitchen at one of its many locations, especially the one in Walnut Creek, and if you REALLY like what they are doing, they also have a supporting cookbook so you have no excuse for not eating healthily!