True Food Kitchen - Hidden in Santa Monica
Away from the food court and upstairs restaurants at the Santa Monica Place is True Food Kitchen. It's on the ground floor, at the end of a walkway on the Second Street side of the mall.
It's a large restaurant, and full for lunch on a weekday.... for good reason.
The menu changes every few months, and consists of seasonal fresh foods. For example, the Farm Vegetable Salad had chunks of fresh corn cut from the husk, kale, butter lettuce, small cubes of manchego cheese and other fresh vegetables. It was delicious and very fresh tasting.
The chili shrimp had large shrimp served over soba noodles with a lightly spiced sauce. It was substantial but not overwhelming.
Also on the menu are about 10 other salads (more than half the diners order the salads), a few pizzas, some sandwiches, appetizers and entrees. And there is a selection of healthy vegetable drinks. I ordered the Hangover Rx, which was coconut water, pineapple juice and vanilla. It was refreshing, but frankly the least impressive part of the meal. Next time I'll try the kale drink.
Supposedly the menu is based on Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet. But I didn't know that until I got home and looked up their website. But it was evident on the menu that this is a healthy food restaurant, with many vegetarian and non-gluten items, which are marked.
It's a bit on the pricey side, though; right on the cusp of being over-priced. You don't get a lot of food in the dishes, but the quality of ingredients is very high. As I left after eating the salad, I wasn't hungry, but also wasn't full. I felt.....healthy.
We've been there three times in the first 6 months of opening. Food was pretty good, a little pricey.
However, every time service was disorganized .... cheerful, but long waits for delivery of food, wrong and missing orders, substantial timing differences (15 minutes) between delivery of meals at the same table. At first we attributed it tow opening jitters, but we experienced similar problems 6 months after opening and have never returned.
Other friends and Chowhounders do not have seemed to shared the same experience ... only when they go with us...
We're kind of disappointed because our friends seem to be happy, but we are reluctant to return after giving them 3 tries (all in the evening after 7:30 pm).
I've had a couple of good meals at the Santa Monica True Foods--interesting menu, even if you have no idea who Andrew Weil is. (It helps if you like kale. :-) )
On the other hand, the waits can be unpleasantly long, and the last time we tried to go, early on a Sunday evening, they were talking about 30-60 minute waits even though there were clearly more empty, unused tables in the restaurant than there were groups waiting--maybe they had a staffing problem. At any rate, we moved on and ended up at The King's Head, which must be about as far from the True Foods approach as you can get!