I’ve been eying True Food Kitchen, a new restaurant across from the Cheesecake Factory at Fashion Valley. Every time I would go to Bloomingdale’s to look at shoes I can’t afford, I would peek over at the progress of the remodel and the mouthwatering photos of food that were on the boards separating the construction space from the mall. I always feel like there is nothing special about eating at the mall, but I still do it all the time anyway, and advertising itself as an all-natural eatery, I couldn’t wait for True Food to open.
Last week, my friend, Courtney, and I met up to look for a dress for a wedding she was going to, and we decided to try this place. The restaurant is bigger than expected. I’ve eaten at some of the previous inhabitants of the space, and someone definitely reworked it to make it bigger, including a more extensive outside seating area. It’s also quite open and evokes the feelings you get from eating healthy, clean food. Good job, True Food. You can see the cooks in the back working, which I love, and a little nice touch: flavored water (rhubarb + melon) is available while you wait.
After we were buzzed, we were seated by a cute little waitress (everyone here is at least slightly beautiful), who explained the concept behind True Food: lots of organic, local items, and a seasonal menu, changing with what is available. Looking over the menu, I counted six vegan items, which is pretty major for a place that is not made for vegans. There are twelve more vegetarian options, and there are also gluten free choices. Really, something for everyone. I had read that True Food was expensive, but the prices seem about mid-range to me. It’s not Taco Bell, but it’s also not Ruth Chris. We’ll get to pricing a little later, though.
I was torn between all the options. Everything looked delicious. Court and I decided to share a Hangover Rx (coconut water and juiced honeydew and pineapple – no other add-ins) while we decided on our food – $5. I juice almost everyday, so I’m always excited to find a place that offers pure juices. This was refreshing, as was promised on the menu, and tasty, but I’m really glad we shared because it was so sweet from that coconut water that I would not have been able to get through it on my own. I probably would not order it again, but we definitely did drink it all.
Finally decided, Court ordered the spaghetti squash casserole, and I ordered Andy’s Favorite TLT with a combination of sweet potato hash and kale salad on the side; although, I was almost swayed by the “Banh Mi” wrap, which includes spicy barbecue tofu, avocado, and a sesame vinaigrette (doesn’t that sound spectacular?). Our dishes came out pretty quickly, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much food I was getting, but I was actually really truly shocked by how small Courtney’s portion was, so let’s start there.
Somehow, at $13, Court’s plate of food cost a dollar more than mine, yet her portion was half the size of mine, and from my own grocery shopping experience, I believe my special ingredients cost more than some spaghetti squash (cheap), tomato sauce (cheap), and a bit of mozzarella (probably expensive, but there was only a sprinkling of it). This picture does it no justice. It was an appetizer or substantial side dish size. I didn’t try it, but Courtney said it was good, and I was at least glad to hear that. If I ate that, I would be hungry later.
My dish, on the other hand, was hearty and beautiful. It was also super delicious, and I have been craving it since. Obviously, in the last couple years I have not had any bacon, so rather than BLTs, I’ve had LTs. In reality, I love tomatoes so much that this has not been a big deal, but I was excited nonetheless to try the tempeh-lettuce-tomato sandwich, especially once I took in the visual as it found its way to the open space in front of me.
If there is one thing I’ve noticed about avocado, in any restaurant, it’s that it’s used sparingly. Not here. Check this baby out. From the bottom up: lightly toasted whole grain bread, Vegenaise, crisp lettuce, tempeh that truly tastes as close to bacon as you’ll ever get, thick slices of tomato, loads of avocado, more tomato, more lettuce, more tempeh, more Vegenaise, and the topper slice of whole grain bread. This sandwich did not disappoint in any way. I was so incredibly happy eating it. Like, happier than normal sandwich eaters should be.
The kale salad was properly dressed without being soggy, and the sweet potato hash was fine – perhaps a touch under-seasoned for my taste, but fine. Next time, I’ll just get the kale salad. And there will be a next time because I really want to eat this sandwich again. My advice is if you are hungry, ask about the portion size. I can understand why Yelpers and the like complained about the cost now because $13 for a very small plate of squash is expensive, and on the other hand, $12 for a big sandwich and two sides is pretty normal, so I’m not sure about the consistency here, but I can speak for my own food, which was freaking awesome, and if nothing else, I like knowing I am getting quality, local food. I recommend giving True Food a try, as it actually does bring something a little special to mall dining.
True Food is located at 7007 Friars Road, Suite 394, in San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mall. It is near Bloomingdale’s and across the street from Cheesecake Factory. True Food is open Monday – Thursday: 11 am to 10 pm, Friday: 11 am to 11 pm, Saturday: 10 am to 11 pm; Brunch served until 4 pm, and Sunday: 10 am to 9 pm; Brunch served until 4 pm