True Food Kitchen, the health-oriented brainchild of restaurateur Sam Fox and healthful eating advocate Andrew Weil, is revamping its menu by offering more vegetarian items, reworking its burger and taking advantage of micro-seasonal ingredients.
“We wanted the seasons to be a little bit more dialed in,” said Fox Restaurant Concepts chief culinary officer Clint Woods. “There are so many great vegetables that have such a short season, whether it’s green garlic, or ramps, or some of the really great asparagus and artichokes. So we wanted to have a little bit of flexibility to change the menu more often.”
That could mean different menus in different locations in the future.
“When we’re getting great heirloom tomatoes in Arizona, we’re not necessarily to season yet in Denver or the East Coast,” Woods said. Going forward, the chain might introduce blackboards for writing down weekly seasonal specials, he noted.
But for now, the menus at all 12 locations of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based chain are pretty similar, Woods said.
Keeping in mind that he would like to change the menus more often, and possibly even print them in each restaurant, Woods said the menu design has been streamlined to look more like a simple list, rather than being broken into different sections.
Each restaurant already has an executive chef, executive sous chef and around three other sous chefs, so the culinary talent is in place, Woods said.
New to the menu is a vegetable section, currently featuring items such as roasted toybox squash with burnt onion, lemon dill emulsion and toasted pine nut gremolata, priced at $7; heirloom tomato bruschetta with vegan almond “ricotta,” herbs and Arbequina olive oil, priced at $10; and grilled avocado with piquante pepper, edamame, organic corn, pepitas and goat cheese, priced at $8.
Also new to the menu is a line of four $14 vegetarian bowls — one with ancient grains, one with red chile noodles, one with quinoa and a fourth that is a Panang-style curry. Proteins such as tofu, chicken, steak, shrimp and steelhead can be added for an additional charge.
New salads include a $13 Summer Ingredient dish with asparagus, cauliflower, wax beans, broccolini, mint, manchego cheese and pistachios in a Sicilian vinaigrette (white balsamic, chili flakes, smoked paprika, garlic, oregano, parsley, mint, castelvetrano olives, part grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil).
True Food Kitchen's bison burger has been replaced with a new grass-fed beef burger sourced from Strauss American family farmers. The burger comes with mushrooms, caramelized onion, arugula, Parmesan cheese and mayonnaise on a flax-seed bun. It is priced at $16.
Additionally, True Food Kitchen’s turkey lasagna has been replaced by a Lasagna Bolognese with house-made chicken sausage, mushrooms, spinach, lemon ricotta and herbs between layers of gluten-free noodles. It is priced at $15.
Woods said the overall menu has been streamlined for ease of execution, with fewer but fresher ingredients. “Just buying great vegetables and going through them at the end of the day,” he said. “We don’t have anything in the walk-in at the end of the night.”
True Food Kitchen continues to draw inspiration from Andrew Weil’s nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet.
Update: Aug. 11, 2016 This story has been updated with the ingredients of True Food Kitchen's Sicilian vinaigrette.