This week has been restaurant week here in Newport Beach, where many select and fine dining establishments showcase their talent at discounted and reasonable prices. Unfortunately, with my MBA courses starting up again, and some other factors contributing, I was only able to make it out to one of the featured restaurants.
We picked True Food Kitchen based on their menu posted on the Restaurant week's home page - though in truth, almost all of the featured restaurants had very appealing fare. Located in Fashion Island, True Food Kitchen had all the potential to be uppity and snooty,, but the staff and environment gave it a very laid back, karma type atmosphere. It struck me as similar to a restaurant at a day spa – not that I have been to a day spa or anything, but if one had a restaurant, it would be like True Food Kitchen. Everything about the place is organic, soothing, and and just well, nice. Thats not to say that you don't get the standard small dog carrying Newport Beach socialite crowd, but given the location, that is hardly avoidable.
The food was excellent. True food was one of the only places in Restaurant week that offered specialty drinks as part of the fare. The Hangover Rx was great – coconut milk, orange juice and pineapple juice, while the Medicine man had too much straight soda water for me to enjoy it.
For appetizers we had the hummus and the caramelized onion tart. Both were excellent, and clearly made with freshest ingredients southern California has to offer. For lunch there was the chicken chopped salad, which offered an exquisite combination of flavors in its chicken, cheeses, dates and cranberries. I haven't been much of a chopped salad fan until recently, and this salad is one of the reasons why I started to like them. The Steak tacos were good. Well cooked and full of flavor, but I didn't take too well to the flour tortilla shells. Maybe I'm not used to organic foods, or the specific flavors of them, but I always thought that the shell was meant to augment the flavor of the taco, not overpower it. Overall, they were just too... flour-ey I guess.
For deserts we tried the apple crisp and the Chocolate Banana Tart. The apple crisp came out warm and delicious, but it is hard to mess up an apple crisp. The ice cream a la mode was interesting though, with a subtle mocha flavor that really complemented the crisp. The chocolate banana tart was incredible – caramelized bananas on a chocolate cookie with a type of whipped cream topping was more than I ever expected from a health food billed restaurant.
The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and helped us out with the vast choices of karma-riffic food. There is a very laid back feel to the place, but with a subtle elegance that gives the entire establishment a very nice environment – if a tad pretentious... but what chic place in Newport is not?
I think it comes out a bit on the pricey side, but you definitely get what you pay for. This will be a place we return to sooner rather than later.