Plant has the distinction of being the only vegan restaurant in Asheville, at least for the time being. But it also has another distinction–one closer to my heart. Plant was actually the birthplace of SoyLentilGreen! It was while enjoying a tasty healthy meal there, lo these many months ago, that AY, my hubby and I hatched the idea of SoyLentilGreen for real. We’d talked about it a little before then, but once we came up with the name, suddenly it had to come to fruition. I’d like to send a big shout-out to Plant for providing the inspiration for that.
And Plant, truly, is nothing short of inspirational. I know that must sound a little over-the-top, at least to those who have not yet sampled its amazing delicacies, but it really, really isn’t. Plant, in my humble opinion, is kind of like the Vegan Admiral. The only thing it’s missing is the dive-y charm and the couldn’t-care-less-what-people-think-of-us vibe that the Admiral has. And, of course, the meat. Can’t forget that.
Plant is located on Merrimon Avenue, in a boxy cement-block building with a charming side porch for enjoying sultry Summer nights. The inside is decorated with an eclectic mix of high art and steam-punk lighting that gives the impression of thoughtfulness without trying overly hard. The glasses, silverware and dishes all have the same curvy, artistic theme that contributes to the fine-dining “feel” of the place. The kitchen is open, the wait-staff and owners are friendly and efficient…really, there’s nothing not to like about the place. They even have good parking. How many Asheville restaurants can you say that about?
AY – I agree with all that Scoops has said in her wonderful introduction. Even though I had just visited Plant the day before for lunch, when Scoops asked me the next day if I wanted to do a review of the Plant, I said yes before she got the words out of her mouth (or should I say before she pressed “send” on her email).
One thing to add to Scoops’s description of Plant is that it isn’t a large restaurant. The kitchen area is in full view of the seating area; and because of the limited seating and growing popularity of Plant, reservations are recommended – especially on weekends. Being that Plant is not that large, it has a relatively quiet atmosphere and is conducive to intimate conversations and romantic wining and dining (even though seating is close).
Thanks, AY! On to the food…AY decided to order his favorite: Flame & Herb Seitan Skewers. My husband wanted to try the curry lentil soup. We had tried the seitan app before and loved it. It’s served with plantains and sour cream, which makes it extra-delectable, in my opinion. (AY’s not as keen on the plantains, so he let me have his–yum!) The curry lentil soup was spicy and seasoned exactly right.
For our entrees, we all tried something different, but all of them included seitan. Sean and I are kind of partial to seitan, especially when it’s done as well as it is here. I had the Jerk, which was done with the same seitan as the apps this time, kind of as a “special,” and is served with “smashed” sweet potatoes, braised kale, serrano crudo peppers and more plantains (yay!). AY opted for the Red Curry Tofu, which came with jasmine rice, teriyaki broccoli, Thai basil, kaffir lime cake and galangal peanut curry. I had a small taste of his and was impressed. He’ll talk more about that in a sec. Sean had the Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Seitan, no matter how much I tried to steer him towards the Exotic Mushroom Risotto. (I almost felt like taking his temperature when he seemed oddly uninterested in mushrooms for once.) The seitan was truly delicious though, and would have been my first choice if he hadn’t gotten to it first. It was served with truffled rutabaga, grilled broccolini, apple, scallion and shiitake “bacon” salad. This meal is truly a work of art. And we forgot our cameras. Next time…
AY – The Flame & Herb Seitan Skewers were excellent as usual. I am not usually one to have seitan because I try not to each too much gluten; but this dish is an exception. The seitan was tender, moist and cooked to perfection. There was a green sort of pesto-like sauce drizzled over the skewers, and some fresh greens with a light dressing – and a side of sour cream. Hands down my favorite appetizer in town! The entree was Red Curry Tofu – a little more on the spicy side, but a nice complexity of flavors which was pleasing to my more delicate palate. Definitely a winner! For dessert I had the Blackout Pie which was good, but I have to admit that I was more impressed with the appetizer and entree.
The menu is not that large, as they seem to focus on doing a few things very well. They use fresh ingredients and they prepare them in a way which is creative and leaves you feeling like you just had a gourmet meal. The sauces and seasonings are not overpowering, and bring out the natural flavors of the food. The food at Plant is refined in preparation and artistic in presentation. My favorite place to dine!!
AY’s Blackout Pie was essentially a delicious vegan peanut-butter and chocolate pie with banana-macadamia nut ice cream and berry agave. I thought it was fantastic. Sean had the “My Own Cranberry-Apple Pie,” which featured local Hendersonville apples, ice “cream” and caramel. I went really crazy and out on a limb and got the “Sinking Float.” It was a first for me. It featured (also local) Highland’s Thunderstruck Coffee Porter and mocha or vanilla ice cream. Wow. That was kind of an experience. As much as I’ve often wanted to, I’ve never consumed my beer through a straw…until now. What a strange effect, drinking beer with vegan ice cream in it. It was not unlike drinking pop-rocks. It was a lot less sweet than one typically expects in a dessert, but the effect was not at all unpleasant. I might not order that one again, but I’m certainly glad I tried it once. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try some of the others.
If you haven’t tried Plant yet (or even if you have) consider trying them for the first time on Tuesday, February 28th for “Dine to Be Kind,” a benefit supporting Animal Compassion Network for National Spay/Neuter Day. A portion of all sales will go towards the life-saving efforts of ACN to rescue stray dogs and cats, support their spay-neuter program, and provide assistance for animals in need in our community.