You’ve probably noticed that True Food Kitchen has been getting a lot of attention lately. It’s a restaurant with an interesting mission — follow the tenants of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Dr. Andrew Weil and serve delicious and satisfying food. By following popular trends in cuisine, True Food is taking a new approach to health food. One that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone, rather than only to the most die-hard health nuts.
We visited True Food Kitchen in the nearby Mosaic District this week to sample their food and chat with the manager about their concept.
The first thing we noticed upon entering is that it’s a gorgeous space with tons of natural light. The General Manager, Matt Connors, explained that all of the wood is reclaimed and the chairs are made of recycled Pepsi bottles. A fitting twist, considering they don’t serve the usual sodas like Coke and Pepsi.
We really wanted to know more about Dr. Weil’s Anti-inflammatory Diet and how it influences their menu. Matt told us that Dr. Weil is one of the partners in this restaurant venture. He is passionate about introducing the public to foods that are full of nutrients and that have been scientifically proven not to cause inflammation.
His “diet” isn’t necessarily meant for weight-loss. It’s more of a general guide for healthy living. Dr. Weil recommends eating a wide variety of fresh foods, minimizing consumption of processed and fast food, and consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables. His Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid is proudly displayed on a wall in the restaurant.
Dr. Weil believes the main culprits of inflammation are sugar, saturated fat, trans fats and omega-6 polyunsaturated fat. Many researchers believe that chronic inflammation is one of the reasons that seemingly healthy people develop heart disease and diabetes. Experts also suspect that it may be behind some forms of cancers. Inflammation also plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid deficiency.
This diet emphasizes foods that are high in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which reputedly help reduce inflammation. Eating a diet low in sugar further reduces inflammation by keeping blood-sugar levels in check.
The menu does contain meat items but is very adaptable for vegetarians, vegans and those that are gluten-free. Not so much for those following the Paleo Diet. However, the kitchen, led by Executive Chef Michael Obermeyer, does its very best to accommodate all dietary requests.
Matt guided us through the menu pointing out some of the more obscure specialty ingredients True Food Kitchen offers — sea buckthorn, kelp and shiratake noodles, freekah, etc. It was all so exotic! These ingredients are chosen for their high nutritional value, and of course, taste.
We started with three amazing drinks, the Cucumber Refresher, the Hot Natural (not pictured) and the Root & Remedy. The Cucumber Refresher is perfect for a hot summer day on True Food Kitchen’s patio. This week, the spicy ginger Hot Natural was more my speed. The Root & Remedy is a restorative concoction of beet, carrot, ginger, turmeric and honey lemonade. It was a filling appetizer unto itself.
Next we moved on to the most gorgeous crudités platter known to man. One thing True Food nails is presentation. The old saying that we eat with our eyes first is absolutely true. I wanted to dive right into this bowl of raw veggies (said no one ever until walking into True Food Kitchen) but sadly, Charlotte ran off with it to photograph. A zippy tzatziki and an addictive black olive dip are served alongside the crudités.
Hands down, our favorite dish was the Red Chili Shrimp with sesame noodles, spinach and shiitake mushrooms. It was a spicy, comforting, and well-balanced meal in a bowl. You can also swap out the wheat noodles for gluten-free shirataki noodles that are made from yams.
We also tried a delicious pizza with butternut squash, walnuts, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions and arugula. The crust was chewy, salty (in a good way) and just crispy enough. A gluten-free option is also available.
All of the dishes we sampled were a delight to look at. The “Inside Out” Quinoa Burger with hummus, tzatziki and avocado is a big, filling dish that’s a great option for those gluten-free and vegetarian.
Last, but certainly not least, we sampled True Food’s brand new Super Berry Tart made with sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn is a berry found in the Himalayas that is chock full of antioxidants and vitamins. The crust is gluten-free, yet extremely flaky and sweet. I couldn’t tell the difference, honestly, which is a huge complement. This creamy and lip-puckering tart is topped with coconut whipped cream laced with spices. Charlotte and I split one but we agreed we each could have easily polished one off.
We visited True Food Kitchen at on off time, 3PM on a weekday afternoon, so the restaurant was basically empty. Don’t be fooled by our pictures. They don’t take reservations (for parties less than 8) and the wait for dinner can sometimes be as long as 2 hours on Friday or Saturday evening. Fortunately, the Mosaic District offers all sorts of entertainment while you wait. Call ahead and put your name in before seeing a movie at the Angelika Theatre or stroll through the many shops that line the streets. Trust us, it’s worth the wait.
True Food Kitchen in the Mosaic District
2910 District Ave #170
Fairfax, Virginia 22031