Dr. Andrew Weil, well-known celebrity doctor and author, was urged by his supporters for years to open a restaurant, because of his innovative and healthy dishes featured in his best-selling books. Not knowing anything about running a restaurant business, he partnered with Sam Fox, CEO of Fox Restaurant Concepts.
Fox has been nominated multiple times by the James Beard Foundation for Restaurateur of the Year, for his passion for great food, design, lifestyle and hospitality.
This duo created the True Food Kitchen concept, and opened the first restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008 featuring seasonal, sustainable, simple and pure ingredients.
Recently, I attended the opening of the newest True Food Kitchen in Southern California. It’s the fifth in California, with other locations in Santa Monica, El Segundo, Newport Beach and San Diego. What I like about the newest True Food Kitchen, besides the food, is the setting in Old Town Pasadena – one of the most charming dining and shopping pedestrian-friendly towns on Colorado Blvd.
The brick and mortar dining spot was once a 1930 Texaco service station. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The large space features two dining rooms and bar area separated by an outdoor courtyard, and a private dining area accommodating up to 30 people.
The decor throughout offers reclaimed natural wood flooring and a contemporary bright green and white color scheme. It’s an eco-friendly restaurant with dining chairs made of recycled soda bottles, placed around butcher block tables. Festive white lights are strung across the al fresco patio above a large tree in the center.
We sat inside in the dining room near the bar with views of the open high-efficiency kitchen filled with shiny silver equipment.
Servers wear gray, teal blue, and light green shirts that say “true,” “fresh,” “green goddess” and “honest.” Our server Adrianne, brought reusable glass bottles of still and carbonated water from a Natura purification unit to the table. She explained the nutrition-focused menu and pointed out the natural juices, teas, and refreshers. These juices and elixirs can be enhanced with gluten-free spirits that include a skinny citrus margarita; Thai grapefruit martini; fig apple ginger mule; autumn orchard sour and Farmers Market sangria.
Tequila is exclusively bottled for True Food Kitchen by downtown LA’s Ixa Tequila Greenbar Collective. Learning this, I ordered the margarita made with muddled orange, lemon and lime juice, torn mint, cucumber and Ixa organic tequila. It’s a fusion of margarita and mojito flavors. My husband ordered the grapefruit martini with Thai basil, fresh grapefruit juice and organic vodka.
When our drinks arrived, we ordered three starters – charred cauliflower, nutty Brussels sprouts and edamame dumplings. The cauliflower is glazed with harissa tahini to give it a slight essence of heat. Medjool dates offer sweetness, mint adds freshness and pistachios dot the dish and give it a crunchy texture.
Toasted hazelnuts are mixed with roasted Brussels sprouts and Jerusalem artichokes with sliced shallots on top. The edamame filled handmade dumplings are served in a light dashi broth spiked with white truffle oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds and Asian herbs.
For entrées we ordered the sustainable sea bass plated with broccolini, sugar snap peas, roasted mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of ancient grains, before being topped with a savory umami sauce.
We also split a large house-made chicken sausage pizza charred around the edges, just as I like my crust. The roasted tomato sauce is heavenly with savory, sliced sausage topped with roasted fennel before a light scattering of an Italian scamorza cheese. It’s a semi-soft, spun white cheese with a texture comparable to mozzarella.
For dessert we ordered the banana and coconut chia seed pudding, and a berry and apple crisp topped with ice cream. Both were a sweet, lighter and healthier finish than most restaurant desserts.
Bring the kids, because there is a children’s menu offering a variety of health-conscious dishes. Some include a grass-fed burger; almond butter, banana and apple sandwich on seeded grain bread; mozzarella and organic tomato pizza, a chicken teriyaki bowl filled with peas, broccoli, carrots, brown rice and quinoa, and a smoked turkey sandwich.
After dinner I told my husband I could easily eat at True Food Kitchen once or twice a week. It’s food that will get me back on track to eat and live a healthier lifestyle.
The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the restaurant opens at 10 a.m. $$ 168 W. Colorado Blvd. (626)639-6818. Other locations in the Los Angeles area include 860 S. Sepulveda Blvd. #100 El Segundo (310)469-7725; 395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 172, Santa Monica (310)593-8300 and 451 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach (949)644-2400.