Plant in Asheville, NC: Vegan Field Report7
hey dudes! today’s vegan field report comes to us from reader george nickle who recently hit up the all vegan plant restaurant in asheville north carolina. i come from LA, a land with many vegan options, and i am freaking out over this place. it looks amazing. we need more fine vegan restaurants in this town.
Asheville, NC has been one of my favorite places since the 90s. So when Plant was mentioned in the field report about VegFest 2011 on Quarry Girl back in August, I knew I had to go next time I was in NC. I finally had dinner at Plant last week.
Plant is Asheville’s first all Vegan restaurant, and two bites in I decided that it is one of the best Vegan restaurants in the country. I was immediately reminded of my fine dining experiences at Millennium in San Francisco and Candle 79 in NYC. After being open just a few months it compares favorably to both!
The restaurant is conveniently located in downtown Asheville and has a simple, elegant modern interior that doesn’t detract from the real star of the show: the food. The food on other guests’ plates draw the eye as you are shown to your seat. By the time I sat I wanted to try everything I’d seen.
It was less than an hour before closing so my partner and I ordered from the dinner menu. He ordered the Nightly Soup, which was a creamy potato, and I had the Flame & Herb Seitan Skewers.
The presentation was beautiful. The Skewers came with two pieces of plantain, which I didn’t expect to go with them but did. They were caramelized and crunchy on the outside, breaking apart to reveal a warm gooey center. The Skewers themselves were large knots of perfect seitan spiced with herbs that were just tangy enough without being overpowering. They came on a bed of wonderfully fresh greens and a dollop of “sour cream” that complemented the flavor of the herbs.
The main thing you find with your first bites (or sips of that amazingly creamy soup) of food at Plant is flavor! Everything tastes as if there is more to it than meets the eye.
For my entree I had the Smoked Portobello Steak. Again, the presentation was lovely, a mix of colors and textures arranged on stark white plates. Halves of grape tomatoes glistening in light dressing and mingling with fresh basil were off to the side. It tasted as good as it looked. Again, lightly tangy with enough flavor to make you hungry but not overpower the senses.
Tender sauteed spinach mixed with bits of garlic hid under the thick Portobello Steaks, drizzled with “v1” sauce that tasted just like the A1 you remember. And those steaks were thick, juicy and filled with a rich balsamic vinegar flavor that only enhanced the smoky mushrooms. Complementing them were triangles of crispy polenta. Divine!
My Partner, a meat eater but long used to Vegan dining with me, had the Peppercorn Crusted Seitan.
It too looked amazing, resting on a bed of “truffled cauliflower puree” and coming with grilled broccolini and flavored with a “light tomato and wine sauce”. I didn’t try it, but he confirmed that it was as good as it looked, and as good as my own entree tasted.
The desserts are the first thing I look for on any menu and imagine my delight when my favorite pre-Vegan sweet appeared, Cannoli!
The cannolo came with a side of the smoothest chocolate ice cream you’ve ever had, Vegan or not, rested beside a little pool of espresso sauce and was topped by a decorative flower. The shell was crunchy and spiked with anise (the only criticism I have for any of the food, it was just a little too much anise for me) and stuffed with “candied orange ricotta” laced with chocolate chips. It was a taste I had long missed and which capped off a perfect dining experience.
I liked the atmosphere, the competent and very correct (no crouching by the table or awkward chattiness) wait staff and the proprietor, Alan Berger, was kind enough to visit our table and give us great details on Plant. Jason, the head chef and genius behind the menu, studied in NYC, worked at Candle 79 then The Laughing Seed in Asheville before coming aboard to help create Plant. They stayed open at least 45 minutes to allow us to finish and Jason even came out of the kitchen to greet us on our way out.
Get to Asheville because it is an amazing city. Get to Plant because it is the restaurant the amazing city deserves. I just wish we’d been in town for the Sunday brunch menu (”Sausage, Gravy & Scratch Biscuit”!) and want them to open up right here in LA!
PlantTags: field report, north carolina
165 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 · Get Directions
lunch tues -sat 11:30-2:30
dinner tue – thurs 5:00-9:00
dinner fri & sat 5:00-10:00
sunday brunch 10:00 – 2:00
Thanks George – how nice of you to take the time to review Plant and we appreciate all of the kind words. We really enjoyed having you and your friend visit us at plant. Look forward to seeing you again.
Yum! Jannatha is from Asheville!
Oh no! I just came from Asheville and I had no idea there was another vegan restaurant besides The Laughing Seed and a few others. Looks like I really missed out! The thing about Asheville, almost everywhere you go has vegan options, so I guess I never googled “Asheville Vegan” maybe then I would have found Plant. Oh well. Next time.
This looks so good
Omg, yum! Other Vegan places need to take note!
On way to Asheville for Thanksgiving…Laughing seed was a Must before but now, Plant is on the itinerary!! The big trouble will be getting my carnivorous family in the door with me! 🙂
My partner is a meat eater and really loved Plant. And I have to say, it blows The Laughing Seed away. Try The Green Light Café http://www.greenlightcafe.com while there too, it is really good.