First Look at True Food Kitchen, A Restaurant Based on Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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It's sad, but true: When you think of the "healthy" food options available in Houston today, there aren't many exciting options that come to mind. Enter True Food Kitchen, the Phoenix-based chain that is poised to take the nation by storm (they currently have eight open locations; Houston will be the ninth). Founded in partnership with Tuscon-based physician, professor, and holistic health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, the restaurant menu was created based on the tenets of Weil's anti-inflammatory diet.

This is where True Food Kitchen excels: Where many "healthy"-type food restaurants fall short in the taste department, True Food Kitchen's food is fresh, visually appealing, ample-portioned, and tastes fantastic. In other words, not only will you want to eat what's presented in front of you, but you'll enjoy eating it and leave feeling satisfied.

Take, for instance, their heirloom tomato and watermelon salad. The first of the dishes to arrive at our table, the first thing you'll notice are the gorgeous, vibrant colors: orange, yellow, red, and green. Multi-hued heirloom tomatoes cut into large wedges are artfully arranged next to large cubes of red and yellow watermelon. Creamy goat cheese, thin-cut cashews, a sprinkling of chopped basil and olive oil completed the dish, which was naturally sweetened by the watermelon. Perfection.

The edamame dumplings, a Japanese-esque appetizer, were also amazing: Four large round ravioli looking dumplings were stuffed with a creamy edamame puree and served in a light broth which had just a hint of white truffle oil. Whole edamame beans floated in the broth, so that each spoonful of ravioli had texture and flavor and scintillating aroma to match.

One of the first things you'll notice on the menu, in the upper left hand corner, is a section of "Natural Refreshments." You won't find corn-syrup laced sodas because this section of drinks is made from fresh juices, teas, and other ingredients, like chia seed. We tried the Kale-Aid, a blend of kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger, a mild-tasting green drink fresh-pressed in the juicer, as well as a Root & Remedy, a sweeter juice blend reminiscent of a watercolor painting. When the juice arrived at the table, the colors of the juice in the glass exhibited a natural gradient of hues, from bright yellow, to orange, to deep red (it was made with beet, carrot, ginger, turmeric and honey lemonade) -- again, just beautiful.

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Meat lovers will truly enjoy the grass-fed bison burger, a healthy take on the traditional beef burger that tasted just as good as the gourmet burgers around town. Served on a flax seed bun, the bison was juicy, the patty a good thickness, and the toppings - caramelized onion, mushroom, mayo and watercress -- a sweetly satisfying flavor. A gluten free bun was also available an option in lieu of the flaxseed bun.

In fact, the menu is brimming with gluten-free and vegetarian options for those who have dietary restrictions, denoted by a simple "gf" and "veg" notation. Of these, the gluten-free chicken tandoori kebabs exemplify what the menu is all about: healthy cooking method (grilling), combined with clean, not-overly processed food (chicken), with nutritious components (red quinoa is a superfood, turmeric is anti-inflammatory) thrown in. And, talk about a revelation. The red quinoa, mixed with Greek yogurt, dates, sprouted almond, mint -- packed with healthy fats, probiotics, amino acids and more -- was moist and packed with flavor, the sweetness from the dates a good contrast and complement to the turmeric seasoning on the chicken.

The grilled steelhead salmon is also excellent, served on vibrant bed of arugula, watercress, corn, cherry tomato, and freekah. Seasoned with a simple lemon vinaigrette, it's something you could dine on for lunch and dinner, and leave feeling good about what you dined on.

And what about dessert? Yes, at True Food Kitchen, you can have that, too, and not feel guilty. Get the chia coconut banana pudding, a mix of just four ingredients (chia seeds, banana, coconut milk and coconut flakes with no added sugars) and prepare to be wowed.

True Food Kitchen is now open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant is located in Phase II of BLVD Place in the Uptown District at 1700 Post Oak Boulevard. (San Felipe and Post Oak).

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