Eight years ago, a restaurant focused on serving good-for-you food that's also good to eat may have been a pretty big idea, but today that's not the case. From fast-casual spots such as Grabbagreen to Old Town Scottsdale's recently opened Farm & Craft, healthy restaurants in metro Phoenix have gone from hard-to-find to impossible to ignore — which is all to say, Sam Fox's 8-year-old True Food Kitchen has a lot more competition today than it did when it first opened its doors.
Not willing to rest on its laurels, True Food has launched a new menu, featuring summer offerings. With several new sections and changes to some of the restaurant's signature offerings, the debut constitutes more than your typical seasonal menu update — this is a significant overhaul.
Fortunately for fans of the Biltmore restaurant's signature fare (the restaurant's menu is "inspired by the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil," who advocates an anti-inflammatory diet in order to achieve optimal health) the changes mean it's never been more enjoyable to eat healthy.
Highlights from the menu's new Vegetables section include a shareable plate of Roasted Toybox Squash ($7). Served with blacked pieces of burnt onion over a creamy lemon-dill emulsion, this dish makes a light, flavorful way to start your meal, as the delicately sweet squash gets amped up nicely by the bright dressing and cool mint leaves.
The new Summer Ingredient Salad ($13) is also a hit. Don't expect the usual summertime combo of greens and fruit. True Food gets originality points for a savory mix of asparagus, cauliflower, wax beans, and broccolini. The salad's lightened a bit with more mint, but a healthy amount of shredded Manchego and a zesty Sicilian vinaigrette also make this a salad so good you'll probably forget it's good for you.
Also new is the restaurant's selection of four $14 bowls, each of which can be topped with a protein of your choice for an additional fee. The list includes a Red Chile Noodles bowl that's only mildly spicy but still quite good. Slender noodles come tossed with crisp snow peas, tender slices of zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, and wilted gai lan, a green also known as Chinese kale.
Even better is the Ancient Grains bowl, which features a perfectly prepared bed of wheat berries and grains topped with hunks of miso-glazed roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, snow peas, and pesto. A tangle of black, barely burnt onions really boosts the dish, adding sweet — but also pleasingly bitter — flavor to the mix, along with a nice element of crunch.
Other changes to True Food's lineup include the removal of the restaurant's Bison Burger in favor of a Grass-Fed Burger made with sustainably-raised, antibiotic, and hormone-free beef from Strauss Brands farm. The popular Turkey Lasagna has also been swapped for a Lasagna Bolognese made with chicken sausage, mushroom, lemon ricotta, and gluten-free noodles. On the upside, fan favorites such as the Spaghetti Squash Casserole, Edamame Dumplings, and the Organic Tuscan Kale Salad remain as intact.
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Moving forward, the restaurant plans to continue incorporating seasonal ingredients while still staying true to the original mission of offering dishes that adhere to the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid. If future menu updates are as well executed as this, then True Food fans have only good things to look forward to.