Plant Based + Flavor Forward!: An Asheville Vegan Culinary Experience

We must start this by saying HOW DID IT TAKE US THIS LONG TO EAT HERE? Shockingly to both of us, we have never before eaten at plant, Asheville’s premier vegan restaurant without borders. Jason Sellers, Leslie Armstrong, and Alan Berger opened plant in the summer of 2011 and since have been voted best vegetarian restaurant in the city, healthiest bite, greenest restaurant, best service, and among the most romantic places to dine. Plant has garnered attention nationally, making lists from Zagat, Food and Wine, and PETA. Like, WOW!

Photo credit via Facebook: Plant

What to Expect

You might be wondering, what exactly are they serving up?

Scratch made, chef-inspired vegan dishes with 90% organic, often local and mostly gluten free ingredients. They are also never using peanut, soy or corn oil. If you know much about gut health, you know all of our guts are thankful for this choice. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or NOT, we promise you will love every bite.

Tour Our Meal

Now while we dined here, we must say our taste buds experienced pure bliss and joyful bursts of surprising pairings.

Small Plates

Cauliflower has been showing up on many menus as a delicious appetizer, yet plant is doing theirs quite differently. This dish was served up with a tahini sauce, grilled lemon, parsley and za’atar breadcrumbs. The cauliflower was so perfectly tender and with downright explosive flavor. What a way to start a meal!

Cauliflower starter small plate.

Each time we see shishito peppers on the menu, we can never resist. What really made these stand out to us with the incredible garlic toum they were plated upon. Toum is a Lebanese garlic sauce that after devouring it here, we have decided we vastly prefer to any aioli we have had. The addition of pistachios on this dish just added to the elevation of this summer classic.

Shishito Peppers starter small plate.

Although vegan ravioli is popping up more and more, it is rare you can be sitting at your table watching the chefs making the pasta right in front of you! When we asked owner and chef Jason Sellers what he recommended, he was quick to share that this was one dish we couldn’t leave without tasting. WIth a cremini ricotta filling and the addition of local chanterelles, this kabocha squash alfredo with macadamia parma had us forgetting this dish is traditionally rich with dairy.

Vegan Ravioli. Mamma Mia! This dish was incredible.

Big Plates

We had to get our hands on the [plant] cheese plate once we were captivated by the description of the three plant-based cheeses we would be diving into. Aged cashew pecan rolled farmers cheese, macadamia ricotta, herb + roasted garlic cheese all paired with housemade bread (the gluten free bread was served warm + was downright AMAZING) pickled veggies, olives and fruit! Quite honestly, this plate alone is worth the visit!

Mind-blowing vegan cheese plate was incredible.

What amazed us most was the diversity of the flavors. Plant really means it when they say “vegan fare without borders.” We went from eating local chanterelles + shishitos to devouring a stuffed tamale with tempeh chile con queso. Like, what? All we can say is wow!

The one other dish that had caught everyone’s attention was the applewood smoked mushroom served with cauliflower-potato whip and fennel salad. From the black currant steak sauce to the ripe grape tomatoes, this was such a welcomed expression of a standard American favorite.

Applewood Smoked Mushroom and cauliflower purée.

Dessert

Now, our taste buds were more than satisfied, yet as soon as we were told what was available on the dessert menu, we knew we just had to try them out!

Creamy, vegan Creme Brûlée

Vegan saffron crème brûlée!! As someone who doesn’t eat dairy for health reasons, I have NEVER seen a vegan crème brûlée on any menu. Our guests were also shocked by this and we all knew, this was a must! And truthfully with the pistachio tuile and blackberries, this surpassed all dairy-filled versions our table had indulged in the past.

Pure bliss!

Now, when we read about the pretzel crust, chocolate peanut butter fudge with whipped cream, pretzel brittle, berry sauce and ice cream known as Blackout, our eyes were nearly popping out of our heads. This dense, rich decadent dessert was not only incredibly scrumptious, but it was also gluten free (as was most of our choices throughout our dinner).

Ambience

This review would be far from complete without sharing the energy of this restaurant. From the moment we walked in and saw the open kitchen, the vibe was infectious. We felt our bodies relax as laughter and joy flowed between us and all our fellow diners. The clientele was dramatically diverse in every way possible, from age to appearance. Everyone wanted to eat this food while radiating kindness and love in a way we imagine can only happen in a restaurant that celebrates locally grown plant-forward food and culinary play.

Dine on Plant’s adorable patio. Photo via Facebook: Plant

Final Thoughts

As we left plant, we each felt nourished and perfectly satisfied. We knew our bodies loved every ingredient and had no after dinner “stuffed” exhaustion. There was no dragging, belly pains or fears of getting sick. Although we were not in need of each calorie we ate, our bodies loved the source of every ingredient.

We found ourselves questioning why we never dined here before. We realized we hadn’t spent time looking at the menu while also assuming this farm-to-table vegan restaurant would have astronomical prices. First, the prices were incredibly fair and on par with what you would find at most other local restaurants in Asheville, yet in our opinion, the artisanal creativity went above and beyond!

Asheville Date Night gives plant a 10/10 and HIGHLY recommends you dine here ASAP! Whether you choose a plant-forward lifestyle or not, this menu will please your palate in many ways. Be sure to make a reservation since they have just 13 tables and seat 47. Bon Appetit, Asheville!


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