True Foods Kitchen

26 Dec

I’ve recently developed a phobia to eating at chain restaurants. HAHA. Its more like, why eat somewhere the same each week instead of trying somewhere different? And while True Foods Kitchen is a chain restaurant, its much different than an Applebees or Outback Steakhouse. Its these types of places that make me excited to eat out again. After all, if I can make the food myself, in the quantity I want, when I want it, why would I pay someone else to do? Enter True Food Kitchen and their green-friendly, fresh food, healthy concept.

True Food KitchenWe visited True Food on a recent Monday night. We arrived before the dinner rush and while the restaurant was steadily busy, it never felt crowed and we never felt rushed. The dining room is one room, which made for some noisy ambiance, but not so overwhelming as to disrupt conversation. The atmosphere is modern and contemporary; the walls sport a yellow pop of color on the most upper reaches which is brought to life by the textured dark walls below. Wooden beams cross over the ceiling and giant retro-looking circular dome lights run down the center of the room which creates a great symmetry to the overall look and feel.

Outside, a patio offers comfortable seating as well as traditional tables. Fabric panels with clear plastic windows help keep heat from fire pits and heaters inside the patio on chilly winter nights. Back inside, an open kitchen is adorned with bins filled to overflowing with the bright colors of lemons, oranges, limes, pineapple and more. From these, True Food squeezes their own juices for a variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as accompaniments to some of their entrees. Look closely and you will see that the kitchen is devoid of fryers and microwaves which underscores their health conscious, green-friendly concept.

True Food KitchenOur waiter was friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. He told us about the True Food concept before recommending a few dishes. He pointed out that the menu changes based on the season, as they get all their produce from a local farm in Peoria. And on the menu, items are clearly marked as vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free.

We were eager to try some of the fresh-squeezed juices and ordered a Honey Lemonade and a Medicine Man. The honey lemonade was divine, tasting of pure, sweet honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The Medicine Man was coined as an antioxidant drink, and was a bit underwhelming. The drink was made with olivello, cranberry, and pomegranate juice and then mixed with soda water and pomegranate seeds.
For a starter, we ordered the Shiitake & Tofu Lettuce Cups. Each one was amply filled with a delicious blend of tofu, mushroom, ginger, and cashews, for a crunch. The sauce was ample, but not overpowering. It was a light and healthy alternative to a heavy appetizer served at most restaurants. The lettuce cups could also serve as a great entree for a lunch or light meal.

After many recommendations by our waiter, we decided on our entrees. We ordered the Squash and Ricotta Ravioli and the Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl, with both shrimp and chicken (instead of picking just one!). The entrees arrived at almost perfect timing after we had finished our appetizer. The dishes were hot and obviously very freshly cooked. We agreed that it was the hottest we had ever received an entree from the kitchen. We appreciated both the prompt kitchen to table service, and the feeling like someone was making us a home cooked meal.

The Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl is made with a house-made teriyaki sauce featuring their fresh squeezed pineapple juice. So the dish boasted an overall citrus flavor in contrast with the savory choice of protein and vegetables. The shrimp was easily better than the chicken, although both were cooked to perfection. The rice was tender, and plentiful, while the unique addition of avocado provided a great compliment to the layers of flavor in the dish.

The Squash and Ricotta Ravioli came in a delicious Miatake Mushroom soy broth, adorned with perfectly seasoned kale. Unlike the usual ravioli dish, drenched in creamy sauce, this version was light and fresh. The squash was a sweet compliment to the creamy ricotta cheese. The homemade ravioli were large and a perfect al dente. Needless to say, both plates were almost clean when our waiter came to collect them.

Too full for dessert, we’re eager to come back and try crowd favorites like Squash Pie or the Low-Fat Ginger Ice Cream, or perhaps a Banana Chocolate Tart. We were overly pleased that the place seemed anything but gimmicky or pretentious. The service, atmosphere, and quality of food made for a great food adventure. It’s a great place for drinks and appetizers, a date, or even a large group hangout. They also offer a wonderful weekend brunch featuring organic eggs, turkey bacon, and sweet potato hash.

Leaving the restaurant feeling healthy, energized, and refreshed we both agreed that Fox Restaurant has once again found a great niche with this concept. For a good meal with good-for-you ingredients and surrounded by good company, it truly doesn’t get any better than this!

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