There's this thing about LA--you don't leave your neighborhood much. If you're vegan and live in West Hollywood or Silver Lake, you know all the spots and exactly what to order in each. But if you happen to be in Encino for the day, you have to pull out your Happy Cow or Yelp app to find the best vegan place around you. If a new vegan restaurant opens up in LA and it's more than five miles away, it might as well be in Ojai. (Or is that just me?)
I don't get out of my neighborhood much. So you can only imagine what it would take to make me get in my car on a cold (relatively) Sunday night, put my dog's jacket on, and venture with my husband Brad from the 101 to the 405 to Venice to try the new Plant Food + Wine restaurant. I'd been hearing about it for quite some time. Tonight was the night: we would sit on the patio, because they allow dogs, and indulge. If a restaurant doesn't allow dogs, we don't go. (We rescued a Pit recently with terrible separation anxiety). Luckily, Plant Food + Wine not only allows dogs on the patio, they welcome them with open arms. Okay, we're in! Honestly, the way to win my heart is through my dog. Amazing vegan food is a close second though.
When we walked up, the sweet hostess was already standing outside (freezing?) in her pretty little dress with menus in hand and said, "Cynthia?" Wow, what service! She had been waiting for us. She took us around back to honestly one of the most beautiful patios I've seen in LA and made us feel very special.
Mark, the Director of Hospitality, said hello and took the time to chat, even though he had just popped over on his day off to attend to something. Very hospitable! The General Manager Joey, who had awesome style by the way (New Yorker transplants!) and a super friendly vibe, checked in on us, and we talked about the fast-rising NY-LA vegan scenes. I could seriously talk about that stuff all night. Mark and Joey are both long time NY vegan restauranteurs and know how to do it right. And Lyn, our server, was cheery and very helpful, and a dog rescuer--bonus!
We ordered the cheese plate to start. Wow. PFW makes sure you understand that vegan cheeses have come a long way. Truffle oil aged cheese, Brazil Nut aged cheese and a soft Macadamia spread that would rival any of the best cheese spreads were served along with a variety of pickled vegetables and fruits.
Lyn suggested we order some bread because we were going to flip for the home made butter. And she was right. It may have been my favorite thing I tasted that night. I was eating it by the spoonful when we ran out of bread. We don't drink alcohol, but I can only imagine a glass of wine would go great with this cheese and bread.
For our main course, I chose the Butternut Squash-Chanterlle Ravioli (with almond ricotta and toasted pumpkin seeds). How pretty is that dish?!
Brad chose the Wild Mushroom-Freekah Bowl (with cornoa beans, sweet potato, ruby kraut, arugula, and mushroom bordelaise).
I honestly loved both dishes and so did he, so much so that we decided to split each dish so we could both enjoy the unique flavors of each. Often with artisan food dishes, there's not enough substance to fill me up. I usually want a pizza afterwards, but I was pleasantly surprised at how full I was. Neither one of us could finish our food.
But that didn't stop me from ordering dessert. We chose the Chocolate Plate (with an assortment of cookies, bon bons and truffles) because it seemed the least filling and, well, who doesn't love chocolate? Vegans have a hard time finding one vegan chocolate, let alone an assortment! It did not disappoint. We had fun sharing and tasting each one.
All in all, the food was delicious and beautifully presented, and the ambience so full of good positive energy, that it made me want to sit back and take my sweet time. I usually eat and run back to the cave I came out of, but we had such a lovely time that we stayed 2 1/2 hours. That might be a record for me.
If you live in LA (and soon to be Miami location), I encourage you, vegan or not, to venture to Plant Food + Wine. If you live on the West side, you're a lucky duck to be able to pop in for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. And if you live more than five miles away, I promise you that it's worth the drive, even on a cold Sunday night.
If you don't have New Year's Eve plans yet, check out their set menu for the evening. I can't imagine a more beautiful way to celebrate the end of the year and the dawn of 2016.
Matthew Kenney, the owner, has done a remarkable job with Plant Food + Wine. He's a familiar name in the vegan, and specifically the raw food, world. Matthew is a celebrity chef, author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur specializing in plant-based food. He has authored 12 cookbooks and is the founder of Matthew Kenney Cuisine, an integrated lifestyle company as well as the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, a raw food education center offering courses online.
He, Mark and Joey are crushing it in the vegan dining experience world.
Loved it + Venturing Back Soon!
Check out their website for more information.