True Food Kitchen, Boca Raton’s latest outpost for flavorful, healthy food, officially opens to the public today (Feb. 21). You wouldn’t know it from last Friday’s soft opening.
My visit to the new restaurant at Town Center mall (an expansion of the space formerly occupied by Stir Crazy) came just hours after it opened its doors for the first time, and word of mouth had already spread: True Food was abuzz with activity, from the multiple door greeters and hostesses to the servers shadowing each other to the variety of patrons—vegetarians and carnivores alike, in casual togs and business wear, already establishing this South Florida debut as a power-lunch and health-nut hot spot.
Its reputation must have preceded it. True Food Kitchen is the heart-healthy brainchild of renowned Arizona physician Dr. Andrew Weil, a practicing pescetarian who builds his menus using ingredients from the anti-inflammatory pyramid: Vegetable and fruit bases topped with whole grains, lean proteins and healthy herbs and spices. Weil has been a pioneer in numerous healthy-eating movements, from introducing the now-ubiquitous kale salad to area menus to integrating turmeric in his recipes.
Weil and the chain’s CEO, Christine Barone, visited with media last week to discuss True Food’s simple concept: “to serve delicious, wonderful food that happens to conform to nutritional needs.” He’s a firm believer that eating healthy doesn’t mean “giving up everything you like,” a philosophy born out by the restaurant’s myriad selections. Divided among “Vegetables & Fruit,” starters, pizzas, salads, bowls, sandwiches and entrees, True Food’s menu is diverse, progressive and dairy-free, with enough rich flavor that you won’t miss the cheese. Its famous edamame dumplings, personally recommended by our server and by Dr. Weil himself, live up to their hype—pillows of veggie bliss swimming is a aromatic sauce of truffle oil and Asian herbs.
The charred cauliflower app is just as tasty: an unpredictable mélange of savory and sweet ingredients, with Medjool dates and mint dressing up the perfectly cooked vegetable, all of it smothered in an addictive tahini sauce. Right behind it in quality are the shiitake lettuce cups—a mini cauldron of mushrooms, tofu, jicama, sambal, Thai basil and cashew that brings the heat: Have plenty of water handy for this one.
The only dish we ordered that failed to fire on all cylinders was the “TLT,” a vegan variant on a BLT with smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato, avocado and vegan mayonnaise. It’s another of Weil’s favorites, but I found it dry, with the tempeh unable to approximate the flavor profile of its bacon inspiration. The teriyaki quinoa bowl, however, hit every flavor target with another successful collage of fresh ingredients—broccoli, heirloom carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, brown rice, avocado and toasted sesame.
Leave room for desserts, which miraculously manage to simulate creamy, sugary confections without the high-fructose baggage. The flourless chocolate cake is a dark, dreamy pastry with cocoa nibs and caramel, topped with the restaurant’s signature vegan vanilla ice cream, a perfect doppelganger for the dairy-milk original. The chia seed pudding with banana and toasted coconut hits the spot, too.
Barone told me that when expanding to new locations, she and Weil look for “vibrant communities that celebrate active lifestyles.” Boca Raton certainly fits the bill. Linchpins like Farmer’s Table and Farmhouse Kitchen have proved the healthy-tasty model could work, and True Food Kitchen is a welcome addition to this exciting movement.
True Food Kitchen is at 6000 Glades Road, Suite 1015A, Boca Raton. Make a reservation at truefoodkitchen.com, or call 561/419-8105.