100 Austin Burgers: True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen
222 West Ave. at the Seaholm development, Austin (map), 512-777-2430, www.truefoodkitchen.com
Hours: 11am-10pm Mon-Fri; 10am-10pm Sat; 10am-9pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.19.16
The hustle and flow of True Food Kitchen blows apart any presumption of the mellow we associate with cafes devoted to the ideals of natural and healthy. Instead, this is a beat-driven abbatoir of the vegetable arts. They’re skinning and quartering squashes a few feet from my table. Bins of apples, grapefruits and honeydews wait in weary silence, pleading through wire baskets. And please, don’t get me started on the snowpeas and potatoes. The nightmares. This vanguard of the Seaholm Power Plant restaurant boom to come shines with white subway tiles, shadowboxes of garden and kitchen paraphernalia and banks of living plants flanking cushioned green banquettes on wood floors. The kitchen is a wide open made-for-TV prep studio with an omnivoral demographic that appreciates edamame dumplings, a chicken sausage pizza, a teriyaki quinoa bowl and a greasy burger in equal measure.
 Grass-Fed Burger: Shaggy sautéed mushrooms and a shingled roof of parmesan start the flavor tour, which leads ultimately to a gloriously juicy grass-fed beef patty. Along the way, it’s joined by grilled onions, a shower of baby arugula and a rustic wheat bun crowned with flax seeds, What puts it over the top, though, is a sauce True Food simply calls “umami,” which like its namesake fifth flavor sense lends this full-flavored burger an enigmatic velvet lushness. ($16 with a side)
 On the side: The healthy $16 tab includes a kale salad or sweet potato hash. Or a little of each. Shredded raw kale is still a hard sell, even with this tart vinaigrette, but the firm sweet potatoes flash caramelized onions and real diner attitude. Or you could try charred romesco or heirloom carrots for $7.
 Wash it down: True Food’s Bloody Mary ($10) is a smooth, spicy mix full of straw-size bits of seed and flesh. In this studio-quality showplace of prep, it’s like a boozy juicer infomercial in a glass. The everyday menu hosts $10-$12 cocktails like a Chamomile Cooler, a Honey Apricot Old Fashioned, a Ginger Margarita and a handful of local draft beers, plus a curated wine list starting at $7 a glass. Non-alcoholic refreshers include Sparkling Antioxidant Tea ($4) and a tart pomegranate limeade sweetened with cane sugar ($4).
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)