Healthy Dining for OC Kids at True Food Kitchen

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I had been hearing a lot of good buzz about True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach since it opened last summer but had yet to check it out until last week. Being an OC mom blogger, one of their representatives contacted me informing me of their new fun-to-eat healthy kid’s menu. This innovative new menu features dishes with sneaky, hidden nutritional elements and is based on the belief of their executive chef that healthy eating applies to ALL ages! I was instantly intrigued.

We went on a Monday night for dinner, and it happened to be my 36th birthday. Baby sister stayed home with the grandparents and Emma got all dressed up and was excited for dinner in a fancy restaurant a la Fancy Nancy going to the King’s Crown! Moms with girls over age 3 probably know what I am talking about!

I was first struck by the AMBIANCE. Very modern and chic with natural elements incorporated all over like miniature gardens of herbs out front, a hostess stand covered with faux clovers and bowls of big, colorful fruits on the bar.

We were shown to our table in the beautiful outside patio…

The general manager, Darryl Cuilla, visited our table and shared a little about their restaurant and it’s concept of “Great tasting food that’s good for you!” {<--- what a concept!} With a menu based on seasonal, sustainable local ingredients I learned that the restaurant is 98% organic, nothing is fried and the focus is on simple, pure flavors. I was excited to taste these flavors and watch Emma’s reaction to her dinner. Because as we know, super healthy doesn’t always equate to super yummy and kids know the difference.

First we perused the True Food’s Kids Menu. Click that link because you will want to see the inventive options! With items like Almond Butter, Strawberry & Banana Sandwich I was impressed with the creative combinations. Emma opted for the Mozzarella and Organic Tomato Pizza and their Homemade Strawberry Lemonade. In the meantime, Darryl sent over a variety of appetizers for us to try while we were deciding.

My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the delicious platter of Local Vegetable Crudites! Served over a bed of crushed ice, it was a colorful mixture of radishes, snap peas, broccolini, cherry tomatoes & two yummy dipping sauces ($10).

Just look at the COLOR…

And you know they are doing something right when we were popping veggies like they were chips and guac! I called Darryl over and asked, “what makes them taste THIS good?” I mean Emma was eating cherry tomatoes like they were M&Ms and gobbling up the broccolini and saying “yum!” This never happens. I am not kidding you. I wish I had it on video. He told me it’s because the vegetables are SO fresh. You truly can taste the difference.

We also sampled the Herb Hummus which was beautifully presented with triangle pita slices, and a garish of tomatoes, onions & feta cheese on top. The Edamame Dumplings with a daikon radish & white truffle oil. These were to-die-for. So light and creamy! And the Caramelized Onion Tart which had smoked garlic, black fig & gorgonzola. This was the richest of the apps, but still not heavy, and just melted in my mouth. YUM.

I probably could have made an entire meal out of the appetizers alone. But I had my entree coming and it will be one I will be thinking about for awhile.

You know how you have those salads at certain restaurants that you CRAVE? This one will be bringing me back to True Food Kitchen for years to come.

Here is the Chicken Chopped Salad ($14) in all it’s glory!
I might have to rename it the “Best Salad in Orange County”

It was a beautiful combination of chopped chicken, mango, apple, avocado, almonds, manchego cheese & champagne vinaigrette. But here’s the thing. We have probably all had a salad sort of similar to this before at a restaurant, but this one was different. The difference was in the flavor. Every item was so fresh it had a whole new type of flavor to it. For example, the avocado. I have never had one that tasted that good. And the almonds were so fresh and crunchy. And there was a difference in the taste of the chicken, deliciously moist. All the flavors and texture together was superb. Truly. You have to try it.

And then there was Emma. The pizza was GOOD sized. Pretty big actually and she is not a terribly big eater. But will you look at how much she ate of her pizza? It is not the prettiest picture, but she kept going and going, I swear no one else had a piece! Notice the broccolini on the side. Little better than french fries, huh?! My gosh I loved taking her out to eat and feeling good about it!

And then there was dessert.

A flourless chocolate cake made of cocoa, vanilla ice cream caramel that I will be seeing in my dreams. There were actually chunks of pure 78% cocoa in it. Not a bad way to ring in my 36th year!

So mamas, if you are out doing some holiday shopping at Fashion Island, True Food Kitchen would be the perfect place to take your kiddos to lunch. Or meet girlfriends there. Or, take your hubby to dinner on a date. Essentially, it doesn’t matter who you take but you HAVE TO GO! I would recommend probably a daytime lunch visit if you were going with small kids. And I love patios for dining with children.

True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Click here for hours, menus and directions. I just read they have brunch on the weekends until 3pm. I am so going back.

{Disclosure: My family received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post.
Thanks to True Food Kitchen for the stellar birthday meal!}

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