Just outside a beautiful building that is home to a large graffitied wall sits a sign welcoming visitors (and pups) to Plant Food + Wine – a gorgeous and original plant based restaurant located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Palm trees line the street, complementing the greenery that hugs the exterior of the entrance. Upon entering, the décor is chic, clean and minimal and is paired with one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork I’ve ever seen.
I was greeted with a smile and kind welcome, then taken through to the garden patio at the back of the restaurant. Trees grew all throughout, creating a natural canopy over the tables and guests. Lush greens, small succulents and wooden tables were neatly placed to create a fairy tale atmosphere.
Once we were seated at a table tucked into a sunny corner, the hostess informed us we could request a free and private tour of the Matthew Kenney Culinary School located above the restaurant. But we’ll get to that later.
I settled on the Rose Sangria to drink. It was made with organic seasonal fruit (which happened to be pineapple – yum), vanilla Sake, Zibbibo, Negroamaro and ginger Kambucha. I didn’t recognize half of the ingredients (I actually still don’t), but I was feeling adventurous and decided to go for it anyway. You can’t go too wrong with sangria, right? It had a very fresh, sweet and light flavour to it – a delightful start to the meal. Lesson here: trying new things can be a fun experience! My girlfriends also enjoyed their cocktails – one named Silver Lining (made with unfiltered sake, gruner veltliner and ginger kambucha) and the Fellini’s Bellini (cava, passionfruit and vanilla). I loved how innovative and interesting their cocktails were. Their organic wine list was both extensive and impressive as well.
To start – we ordered the Flora Artisanal Cheese Plate. The plate was served to include mustard seeds, pickled strawberries (yes, I’ve never heard of these either) and almond-fennel crackers to pair with the vegan cheeses. With five types of vegan cheeses to choose from, we settled on three; White Truffle, Smoked Cheddar and Mixed Peppercorn. I learned that mustard seeds and pickled strawberries are not my thing – but that almond-fennel crackers are pretty rad. Vegan cheeses are made from nuts, so the texture of each cheese was quite crumbly. The White Truffle held a sweet and light flavour with a slight bitterness – nonetheless it was quite delightful. The Smoked Cheddar was by far my favourite – packed with a bold and smoky flavour. The Mixed Peppercorn had too much of a kick for me – far too spicy. Out of all the cheeses it did hold the most flavour though. We ended up ordering more almond-fennel crackers before the cheese plate was finished – they were that good.
When selecting my main dish, I was overwhelmed with ingredients and combinations I didn’t recognize – but that was okay. I just flew over three thousand miles and it was time to be adventurous. After carefully reading through the menu, I was torn between the Sword Leaf Caeser and the Mushroom + Vegetable Burger. The carrot ketchup used for the burger is what peaked my interest – so I went with it. My girlfriends settled on the Curried Cauliflower Taco as well as the Casio E Pepe (a kelp noodle dish).
The burger was cooked to perfection and just packed with flavour. It was served on a spelt (an ancient grain that offers many health benefits) roll, lettuce, pickles, chipotle aioli and of course the carrot ketchup. The carrot ketchup was delightfully similar to regular ketchup and gave a much prettier colour. I was so happy with my decision; I ate every last bite. It’s so lovely when new eating experiences turn out to be awesome.
In addition to the burger I tried the Curried Cauliflower Taco as well as the Casio E Pepe and disliked them both. The texture of each dish was too much for me and after trying both of these dishes I learned I am not a fan of cilantro, curry or olives. The girls loved their dishes though and to our surprise we were left feeling satisfied and stuffed.
We requested the tour which started in the garden – just a few feet from our table. With fig tree branches hanging over our heads, it was explained that Plant Food + Wine grow a lot of their own ingredients at their locations. For some meals, the chefs will come out into the garden, pick the ingredient they need and place it right into the dish. This small detail made my heart swoon – how awesome is that? From the earth right to your table. We were then lead to the area above the restaurant where the culinary school was located. The interior matched the restaurant – beautiful, minimal and clean. The classes offered were organized into levels with a focus on raw and plant-based food preparation. These classes are offered in Venice, Belfast, Miami, Thailand and even online. Fingers crossed they venture into Toronto – as I think taking a class here as a selective eater would be life changing.
The staff, the atmosphere and the brilliant dishes all made for an unforgettable experience at Plant Food + Wine. I’ve never taken so many pictures at one location – but everything here was too beautiful to ignore. I’m looking forward to visiting once again when my palette and appreciation for certain flavours expands even more. I urge anyone living or visiting LA to have their first experience at Plant Food + Wine – no regrets.