When the hottest eatery in Brooklyn is a place called Slutty Vegan, one thing is for certain: Healthful restaurant food has gotten a major reputational upgrade.
Places serving so-called healthy fare used to be no-fun, good-for-you, crunchy-granola outliers. Nowadays, they’re mainstream, cool, even sexy.
Almighty Food Co. is the latest local entry in that category. It opened this past summer in El Dorado Hills Town Center, a bustling suburban shopping complex with the typical retail mix of boutiques, restaurants and movie theaters. Almighty Food stands apart from its neighbors for its size (small) and its menu (gluten free and organic).
About that menu: It doesn’t read as ostentatiously healthy. There’s a cheeseburger and a Cubano sandwich, baked brie and dirty rice, risotto and cassoulet. It’s definitely not vegan, nor even vegetarian. That’s by design, says Nick Dedier, who owns the restaurant with his fiancée, Alexa Hazelton. “We don’t shove healthy in your face,” he says. “We smuggle it in without being preachy.”
An Elk Grove native, Dedier began working in restaurants when he was in college. Originally he planned to become a lawyer, but upon graduating from Sac State, he decided his heart was really in the restaurant business. So instead of law school, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and ended up working as a maitre d’ and manager at a succession of high-profile restaurants: Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie in Las Vegas, Gary Danko in San Francisco, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. Later, he traveled the world as food and beverage director for Auberge Resorts, a luxury hotel company.
Dedier had promised himself he’d own a restaurant by the age of 35. He beat that promise by two years, opening Aji, a modern Japanese bistro in Town Center, with a partner when he was 33. The partnership fizzled (although Aji is still open), but he went on to open Milestone, a popular 130-seat New American restaurant in the same complex.
During the pandemic, Dedier and Hazelton became interested in the idea of a healthy restaurant after meeting Joel Salatin, a Virginia farmer and lecturer made famous in Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Taken with Salatin’s philosophies on regenerative farming and respect for animals, they decided to open an eatery with the same ethos, serving local, organic produce and sustainable, pasture-raised proteins. The pair stumbled upon the gluten-free format by accident. After Dedier wrote Almighty’s first menu, Hazelton pointed out that almost nothing on it had gluten. If they just used gluten-free buns for the cheeseburger and gluten-free bread for the Cubano, she said, Almighty would be a gluten-free restaurant. So they did.
The wide-ranging menu changes monthly and, at first glance, doesn’t seem to have much of an organizing principle: You can order avocado toast bagel, blackened Loch Duart Scottish salmon or anything in between: wedge salad, cauliflower steak, okonomiyaki, even caviar. But there is a common denominator, says Dedier. “This is a workshop for big flavors,” he says. A dish called Chicken Rice is his spin on dirty rice, the chicken confited in duck fat. Potato croquettes are served in a puddle of rich lobster bisque, and spicy ahi appears in a “sexy” tuna tostada.
With only 32 seats, Almighty Food is a much smaller operation than its big sister up the street, Milestone. That’s also by design, says Dedier, who always wanted to own a little bistro—“a place where you have to squeeze in,” as he describes it. “I’m so in love with this place,” he says.
Almighty Food Co.
4355 Town Center Blvd.,
El Dorado Hills; (916) 510-1204