From the world-renowned vegan chef Matthew Kenney comes Plant Food and Wine, an awesome vegan restaurant located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, California. Executive chef Scott Winegard crafted the amazing menu using only the best ingredients and impressive techniques, and I was extremely excited to have dinner there. A few years ago, I had eaten at one of Kenney’s other restaurants in Santa Monica (no longer open), and still remember how the food looked and tasted (If you want to read my review, click here).
My mom had been to Plant before and loved sitting on the back garden patio. Unfortunately for us, it started drizzling just after we sat down, so had to sit inside, but the indoor space is equally as special. For a very simple, white space, it felt special. The people working are kind and clearly impressed with what they are serving and doing, and that adds to the overall experience at any restaurant!
Upon looking over the entire menu, we knew we had an issue, since we wanted to try everything. The menu is quite extensive and everything sounds fantastic! My mom did insist that we share the cashew raclette as she had had it and knew I would freak about it. This dish arrived with a generous block of sizzling housemade cashew cheese in a little cast iron skillet, garnished beautifully, like all of their dishes. The two large pieces of grilled Lodge Bread (an LA-based bakery with its own restaurant – I looked at their menu while writing this and immediately put them on my must-eat-at list for my next visit!) The UNREAL texture and flavour of the cheese was perfect spread over warm bread. Every bite was appreciated!
Due to my fanatical love for hummus, I had to order Plant’s smoked version. It was anything but boring and standard, and was also beautifully plated, and the airy, housemade, super-seasoned crackers served as a perfect vessel for the creamy and delicious hummus!
Next up was the hearts of palm ceviche, which arrived like a work of art on a plate, and my photo hardly does the creation a justice, but if you follow Matthew Kenney’s instagram feed, it is pretty accurate to what the actual dishes look like when they arrived at your table. The hearts of palm were paired with perfectly cut and arranged pieces of tomato, avocado, sea beans, kumquat, and lime leaf. This cold dish offered so many perfect bites, with the soft avocado mingling with the marinated hearts of palm and whatever else ended up on my fork – I definitely recommend this dish to anyone visiting Plant instead of a simple salad!
The Spicy Udon, a warm dish that we shared next, included rich, creamy noodles with tempeh sausage, roasted cashews, red mustard, radish, and Togarashi (a Japanese blend of spices – I learned this at the time of ordering). This was absolutely amazing! The tempeh came as two large strips like sausage, which were cooked and flavoured to perfection, and the cashews added a nice crunch to go along with the soft noodles and greens. The Togarashi adds a brilliant hit of spice! This was our fourth shared dish and I devoured most of it and was thrilled.
Normally, we don’t order dessert in restaurants, but we knew we had to try something from the Plant menu, and when we saw that there was an apple pie, we didn’t hesitate to share it. The apple pie was served like a half tart on a layer of salted date caramel a la mode. It was SO good, not too sweet apples, in a perfectly buttery (but no butter because it’s vegan!) crust. The quenelle of dairy-free vanilla bean ice cream was so light it was almost like whipped cream. A perfect finish to an outstanding meal.
Plant Food and Wine is a MUST for anyone visiting Venice Beach (barring a nut allergy) and even worth travelling for if you can! I hope to be able to visit and try the rest of the dinner menu, plus the awesmazing brunch and lunch menu at some point soon! Either that, or I hope that Matthew Kenney opens a restaurant in Toronto – we need this kind of restaurant, food and service in this city!