As much as we enjoy decadent cuisine, we’re delighted when we can go out to eat while keeping things healthy. We were recently invited to preview True Food Kitchen’s new space in Bethesda and jumped on the chance to taste the healthy and delicious food so many have raved about at the Mosaic District location in Virginia.
About True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen is a “health-driven, seasonal restaurant merging nutrient-rich ingredients with a flavor-forward menu that rotates regularly to let guests experience great-tasting ingredients at the peak of their freshness.” This was obvious as soon as we walked up to the front door, greeted by the aromas of the fresh herbs growing on the patio.
They offer food that caters to any dietary restriction, from gluten-free to vegan. True Food co-founder Dr. Andrew Weil played a large part in developing the menu. Dr. Weil is an internationally recognized expert for his views on a healthy lifestyle and healthy aging and specializes in creating food that fights chronic inflammation in the body, thought to be the cause of heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and more. I’m no expert on alternative medicine, but have no problem eating healthy foods that benefit my well-being. We were excited to see what his nutritious creations would taste like.
We also loved the beautiful, open space boasting plenty of natural light, bamboo decor and greenery.
Get a Scratch-made Drink at the Bar
The “scratch bar” offers the standard selection of beer and wine, but the real treat comes with the cocktails crafted from fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices. I decided to go the truly healthy route with a non-alcoholic concoction. The Medicine Man, made with triple-brewed black tea, blueberry, pomegranate, honey and sea buckthorn, was a refreshing way to get a quick boost of caffeine and antioxidants. This was my first known exposure to sea buckthorn, a berry/herb thought to have medicinal properties, but we’d taste it again later in the meal.
Tom chose the Scratch Bloody Mary, a nutritious take on the classic with organic tomato, cumin, cayenne, garlic and lime.
Although we dined during brunch, we ordered lunch items exclusively. To start, we went with three veggie-packed dishes – the torched avocado, edamame dumplings and heirloom tomato pizza.
The torched avocado was wonderfully unique and unlike any other avocado preparation I’ve ever had. The charred exterior added a wonderful smoky counterbalance to the rich, nutty flavor of the avocado.
We weren’t quite as taken by the accompaniments – cucumber noodle, mushroom, snap pea, radish, sesame and turmeric ponzu. To me, the flavors fell a bit flat and distracted from the deliciousness of the avocado. However, it was all healthy, so we made an effort to clean most of the plate.
The edamame dumplings with dashi, white truffle oil and asian herbs didn’t quite captivate either. Although I did really enjoy the delicate texture of the dumplings, the flavors felt a bit flat. I understand that healthy food requires cutting back on salt and fat, the herbs could be played up some to add a little zing.
Of the three, we definitely preferred the heirloom tomato pizza with grilled artichoke, roasted garlic, vegan almond ricotta and black truffle the most.
This pie was absolutely wonderful from the chewy, slightly crunchy crust to the beautiful produce to the delightfully rich vegan ricotta. We took most of it home for later, and it was just as good the second time around.
The Main Event
For entrées, we kept eying the bowls, heavily inspired by Asian flavors. Tom chose the spicy panang curry with organic potato, long bean, bok choy, carrot, Thai basil, coconut shrimp broth and added tofu.
This dish was lovely and full of flavor, proving that healthy doesn’t have to mean bland. The curry was rich and wonderfully spicy and the vegetables cooked perfectly.
I ordered the red chili noodles, which were every bit as satisfying as the curry. We were on a roll. Served with gai lan, zucchini, shiitake mushroom, snow pea and cashew this dish was seriously delicious.
We loved the variety of textures from the crisp vegetables, al dente noodles, sesame seeds and crunchy cashews. This dish had a nice level of spice as well, though slightly tamer than the curry. I think the moral of the story is that you can’t go wrong ordering a healthy bowl at True Food Kitchen.
A Healthier Take on Dessert
Of course we had to sample the dessert offerings. Having enjoyed the sea buckthorn in my drink earlier, I was curious to taste the sea buckthorn sorbet.
Although I couldn’t exactly pinpoint how to describe the flavor of the sea buckthorn, I really enjoyed how light and fresh this tasted. It was just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard.
Key lime pie is one of my favorite desserts, so I was over the moon to try True Food’s vegan version.
Although vegan, this pie held its own amongst the most decadent versions out there. With just the right amount of tangy tartness and a smooth, creamy texture it was truly craveable. The vegan coconut whipped cream was stellar as well.
Overall, True Food Kitchen definitely impressed. Despite a couple of misses, we enjoyed most of the dishes and loved that we were getting a hefty dose of nutrition with each bite. True Food Kitchen proves that healthy food can also taste great. The experience proved to be as enjoyable and memorable as many of the more indulgent meals we’ve had.
True Food Kitchen is officially open as of today, June 14th. Go check them out!