plant food + wine

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if I could snap my fingers and transplant any street in the world to Miami it would likely be Abbot Kinney. So, when I heard that an Abbot Kinney based restaurant was opening a Wynwood outpost, I was there faster than you can say "raw-plant-based-vegan-cuisine." 

 

Plant Food + Wine is the latest space by vegan, plant-based chef Matthew Kenney in the Sacred Space, billed on their website as "an epicenter for personal growth and transformation" and "a sanctuary and supportive community, cultivating conscious living 'where love is everything.'" So, you catch the drift, right? The indoor-outdoor space, is a sparsely designed, uber modern center for eating and cooking. 

And while all that talk sounds good and nice, it all comes down to the food - and the food was both inspired and delicious. Even my ultra-carnivorous date has since recommended it to other meat-maniacs. 

We started with the cheese plate, because I can't resist a cheese plate, and while I'm philosophically open to the idea of nut cheeses, I had relatively little exposure, so this seemed like a good way to get a grip on whether or not I was actually down with them. I was. The plate came with three kinds of "cheese" - white truffle, smoked cheddar and mixed peppercorn served alongside some pickles, fennel crackers and mustard seeds. The truffle was the standout, closely followed by the smoked cheddar, but all three where delicious. It's not like you wouldn't realize there's something funky about these cheese's, I think any cheese-plate devotee would know that something is up, it's that the spread is so delicious it doesn't matter that they're not actually cheese. In fact, the whole idea of turning plain old nuts into something as creamy, delicious and well-paired with the pickles and mustard is so impressive, I didn't miss the cheese. 

 

The second most surprising dish was our second dish - the kimchi dumplings. The description is minimal: "Kimchi Dumplings. Coriander. Ginger Foam." These delicate, paper-thin packets stuffed with a creamy kimchi based concoction are a far cry from soggy take-out dumplings. The term dumpling is perhaps, a bit misleading but ultimately, the small green pillows are so delightfully surprising, so hard to describe, the term does seem like the closest description. 

 

I'm not a fan of vegan or vegetarian food that's pretending to be meat. Vegetables don't have to pretend to be meat, they can be vegetables just fine. I like a veggie burger, like the one at Lokal, that isn't pretending to mimic the texture of meat, it's a stand alone dish that's just as enjoyable and the animal-based alterative. The Beet + Avocado Tartar doesn't pretend to be meat, but it as all the right flavor notes of a traditional steak tartar, plus a bit of flare by way of dill, sprouted quinoa and wasabi yogurt. 

The Hearts of Palm salad, served with leche de tigre (aka Peruvian citrus based marinade), avocado , choclo and shiso reminded me how much I love hearts of palm and that I need to finally plant my shiso seeds so that I can have the fragrant leaves in every salad I make at home. (Fun fact - I bought those shiso seeds at the Tortoise General Store on Abott Kinney - see how life is full circle?)

The Banana Leaf Tamale should be on every healthy-restaurant-in-Miami's menu. It's all the familiar flavors, plus an addictive cacao mole. 

 

Last, it was the dish that actually is on every healthy restaurant's menu that really proved the technical skills of Plant's kitchen; the zucchini lasagna, a dish that's become so popular it's basically basic, was incredible. The macadamia ricotta was, dare I say it, better than most lasagna fillings. The presentation was beautiful, clean and precise, the marinara a bit spicy, and the basil-mint pesto an eye opener - it should be on every lasagna, vegan or not. 

Basically, that's what the Plant experience came down to, whether you're vegan or not you'll enjoy this inventive restaurant if you're a good eater. If you are a vegan, you're in for a nice, nice treat.

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