WASHINGTON -- The science may be sketchy, but how's the food?
Alternative medicine kingpin Dr. Andrew Weil, a founder of the True Food Kitchen restaurant chain with six locations in the western United States, hopes to open a D.C.-area outpost within the year, according to WTOP-FM.
The restaurant specializes in fresh and local "anti-inflammatory" foods, as does Weil, who promotes an "anti-inflammatory food pyramid" that is heavy on vegetables, allows for unlimited amounts of Asian mushrooms and contains just a little bit of plain dark chocolate.
Weil says this diet will help combat a panoply of bodily ills, like heart disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer and lupus.
But if the food seems appealing, the science of Weil's claims has been met with considerable skepticism: One doctor, who specializes in debunking non-evidence based medicine, likens Weil to an astrologer. A 2011 NPR piece finds that health claims regarding "anti-inflammatory" foods have not been proved -- though the experts cited in the piece note that Weil's recommended diet is largely healthy.
So if we can't quite say that eating at True Food Kitchen will be a panacea for the body, will it be a good meal?
The title of one review -- it was of a Southern California-based True Food Kitchen -- suggests yes: "Don't let the name or the New Age gobbledygook scare you off."
The dinner menu for True Food Kitchen's Phoenix branch features turkey burgers, kale salads, street tacos served with either grass-fed beef or sustainable sea bass, and many, many vegetarian options. Flourless chocolate cake and squash pie are on the dessert menu.
Cocktails use organic rums and gins; one concoction, promisingly called "Spontaneous Happiness," features ginger and vanilla-infused sochu, a kind of Japanese vodka.
True Food Kitchen's Scottsdale, Ariz., restaurant has a Yelp rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewer complaints include small portions, the crudite carrots being left unchopped and a lack of fried menu options. The more enthusiastic reviewers mentioned things like "Superb combo of tasty food, comfortable setting, and good for you" and "KALE. KALE. KALE. who knew it could be so delicious?"
A San Diego Reader food writer who isn't normally attracted to health food enthused about the restaurant:
To my surprise, I left True Food Kitchen understanding why so many would be so stoked about it, particularly those for whom dining healthily is more than a three-day experiment. In addition to having good food and a wide breadth of dishes and dietary options, the place is lovely in its modern farmhouse chic décor, and the prices are reasonable. It's nice to see it drawing business away from it's neighbor, temple of gluttony The Cheesecake Factory.
Then there's this perspective, from a Chowhound user going by the name ipsedixit: "True Foods reminds me of Cheesecake Factory on a spa diet."
Which sounds like a recommendation to us!
The Washington Business Journal reported back in March that True Food Kitchen was hunting for one or two spaces in D.C. area, with plans to expand into the suburbs.
On Friday morning, Anita Walker, a spokesperson for the restaurant's corporate owners told HuffPost that "We love the DC market for True Food Kitchen and continue to look for a perfect location –- but we don’t have a deal we can confirm today."