It took me a while to get to Plant Food + Wine. The vegan/raw concept turned out to be a hard sale for my usual dining partners in crime. Finally, the right dining opportunity presented itself with the best companion I could have asked for, a long-time friend who happens to be a compassionate yogi. Surely, she would be able to appreciate this type of dining. And she did. We both did. I only wish I would have visited sooner. As it turns out, I’d been missing out!
With no signage outside, I drove past the entrance. Oops. It’s easy to miss. A wide, solid brown gate hides this Miami gem from the world. There’s valet parking available inside or street parking right outside of the gate.
Welcomed by a gloriously designed and landscaped outdoor terrace, I didn’t know where to look first. The modern space is broken up into separate distinct areas: indoor/outdoor dining, open kitchen, cooking school, outdoor lounge area, grassy open space, a reflection pool, and an indoor private event venue towards the back. Service began immediately. Everyone that visited our table did so with a smile and the kind of contagious attitude one loves to catch. I would even say the staff beamed when explaining the dishes or answering questions.
What I tried:
Once upon a time, I spent four years of my life as a lacto-ovo pescatarian. Even that practice did not prepare me for this dinner. Without ovens, microwaves, or cooktops used for the dishes, the food is served raw and mostly at room temperature. Wrapped in a cilantro-coconut wrapper, the Kimchi Dumpling starter meant business: lightly sweet, just enough acid, and incredibly savory. Way to kick things off! We will take a second order, please! To share, we also ordered the Flora Artisanal “Cheese” Plate. A combination of pickled vegetables alongside several sunflower seed crackers and even some mamey highlighted the taste of the cashew-based cheeses: handcrafted, using sprouted and cultured nuts and then individually flavored (white truffle, smoked cheddar, and mixed peppercorn). It’s not that they truly tasted like their dairy-based cousins, but we enjoyed the flavor profile as offered. For the main course, we shared the Cacio e Pepe. Kelp noodles brought out the texture of an al dente pasta and the decadent cashew cream sauce silkily rolled on the tongue. Finally, the pepper-heavy seasoning, green olive puree, and sprinkled sundried olives exposed the sass of the dish in ways I didn’t see coming. Every bite we committed to easily. Why haven’t I been cooking with kelp noodles all my life? We did our best to slow down and enjoy the moment, but the food brought out the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning; we couldn’t wait for more. The occasional closed eyes, mmm-ing, and exchanged glances meant we were on the same page about Plant Food and we now understood the excitement the staff showed upon arrival. I finished the rest of my chilled organic Sho Chiku Bai- Nama Sake, as I waited for dessert. To end, I also ordered an espresso: bold tasting, extra hot, and (although I don’t add it to my coffee) some coconut sugar. Go big or go home meant ordering the Chocolate Plate for dessert. With its detailed and artful plating, the salted ganache, bonbons, and nutty clusters composed the most satisfying, sweetest finale.
At dinner’s conclusion, we were offered a tour of the kitchen and cooking school. Being able to peek into this part of the space brought the night full circle. One word perfectly describes the kitchen: immaculate. Although I’m more of a professional eater than a cook, I’m now interested in taking some of the classes.
If I gave stars in my reviews, Plant Food would take a solid five based on this visit. Every single dish that came out of the kitchen surprised me. The textures, flavor, and combinations fit together naturally and seamlessly, making me wonder why we as a society don’t eat this way more often. I expected to like the restaurant, but did not expect to love it as much as I did. I would order any of those dishes again, even if on the menu at a regular restaurant. Although I’m not converting to veganism any time soon, I have to admit that I do feel better as a whole when I follow a plant-based diet. After this dinner, I feel greatly inspired to eat this way at home whenever possible. Although, I’m pretty sure I first need additional visits to Plant to feel more comfortable with the concept and lifestyle. Yes, that’s it. Wink.