It happened to be Easter on a recent trip to Irvine (coincidentally, we did this also three years ago), so was it the time to take chances and drive to an unexplored area of town for lunch? Not really. So, we headed to a familiar location --Fashion Island-- and finally tried out True Food Kitchen, which was under construction back when we visited its next door neighbor, Flemings.
True Food Kitchen, a restaurant chain created by Fox Restaurant Concepts, has an emphasis on fresh and healthy foods. Entering the restaurant, that vibe became quite obvious to us, whether it was the modern herb planters at the entrance, the industrial juicer located in the bar as we entered inside, the open layout of the restaurant, natural lighting, fresh vegetable displays, open kitchen, et cetera. Bright, happy, and fresh would be my three adjectives!
To begin our dining experience, we ordered the Natural (4 USD), a teacup sized drink composed of ginger, agave, and soda. The hot, carbonated, gingery drink served in this regular sized teacup was a hit and served our companion that was feeling a bit groggy well.
True Food Kitchen's Chicken Tortilla Soup (7 USD- Daily Market Soup) was our appetizer. This was a refreshing difference from other tortilla soups, in that it was lighter and thinner than other tortilla soups, yet was still very flavorful. We tasted plenty of chicken, tomato, and spice flavor, with the cilantro adding some pleasant brightness.
Continuing onto the main courses, one companion ordered the Street Tacos (14 USD), which came with three tacos (choice of sustainable seabass or grass fed steak--you can mix and match as seen above with two steak and one seabass taco); to the side were some tasty pinto beans with cotija cheese; it was a bit unusual that the pico de gallo was place atop the beans, but this isn't a authentic Mexican restaurant, is it? My companion was satisfied with the tacos, but did feel that it wasn't very substantial of an entree.
Another companion ordered the Panang Curry (15 USD- Tofu), composed of brown rice, potato, broccoli, ginger, carrot, mushroom, and coconut shellfish broth. It tasted just like a Thai restaurant curry, only that the veggies were slightly less crisp than those stir-fried in wok--not a big deal.
We also ordered the Wild Mushroom Pizza (13 USD), which came with a bounty of different wild mushrooms aw well as roasted garlic and taleggio cheese. Everything was fantastic in this pizza: a light, chewy, fragrant crust, fresh, flavorful mushrooms, and high quality ingredients abound. We would definitely order this again.
I had the Turkey Lasagna (14 USD), which came with feature ingredients spinach, ricotta, and organic tomato. The unique element here was the spinach pasta, which was a dark green and very tasty. I also liked how parts of the bold tomato sauce were caramelized due to the individual serving plate, providing some concentrated sweet tomato flavor. Though this lasagna certainly wasn't as layered (just 2-3 layers) as what you would find in an Italian restaurant, the concentrated, distinct flavors make up for it.
As we tend to do when visiting new restaurants far from home, we also ordered dessert! First came the Almond Olive Oil Cake (7 USD), which came with some plain yogurt, orange, and grapefruit segments. For those preferring lighter, brighter flavors, this is the dessert for you. The cake itself was tender, with a deep underlying almond and olive oil flavor. Meanwhile, the citrus and yogurt perked up the cake-- a tasty combination of flavors.
Meanwhile, the Flourless Chocolate Cake (7 USD) was decadent with its 72% cocoa, vanilla ice cream, caramel, cocoa nibs.This is a tried and tested combination, but what was fascinating (besides the brownie like chocolate cake and smooth vanilla bean ice cream) was the caramel, which had such a rich, deep flavor that I'd take bites of just the caramel itself.
A great meal? Certainly--the fresh ingredients and true flavors bring people back, as seen by the relatively packed restaurant during our visit. Prices are on the higher side for a casual eatery, but the ingredients fulfill the price tag. Though the plating doesn't seem to fulfill the cost of admission that well (dessert in a bowl?), the otherwise rustic plating matches up with the fresh, casual vibe of the restaurant. True Food Kitchen lives up to its name.
True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach California 92660
Tel: (949) 644-2400