Before I began dabbling in the cultic lifestyle of veganism, I couldn’t have ever imagined an all vegan restaurant. Now mind you, a good percentage of the time I choose to eat vegan. This is not for ethical reasons as is customary for many granola crunching, tree hugging, rainbow-happy hippie people so prevalent in Asheville, North Carolina. I have chosen this course of animal abstinence solely for health reasons. Believe me, I may not always eat animal, but I’ll definitely wear animal. My leather boots, crocodile purse and mink coat will make the fur on the back of a PETA supporter’s neck stand straight up.
To my surprise and subsequent delight, I happened upon an all vegan restaurant in Asheville, just a hop, skip and a jump from the downtown area. Plant, as it is so aptly named, is truly a destination worth venturing to. Even if you don’t subscribe to veganism and can’t comprehend the notion, you will be incredibly pleased with its astonishingly tasty fare.
I have been a patron on many an occasion and I must say that Plant and Chef Jason Sellers can do amazing things with sprigs and roots. From what I understand, the biggest percentage of Plant’s diners aren’t vegan, they’re not even vegetarian. This should be a testament alone to the mastery that the kitchen staff has in turning ordinary, nose-snubbed vegetables into delectable creations and savory concoctions. I have never once been disappointed with a meal there.
The restaurant itself is small and maintains an air of sophistication. Its contemporary décor melds nicely with its open view kitchen and small bar area. A smattering of wine and beer selections are available but the charm is all in the food.
Many dishes range in inspiration from the Far East, Mediterranean and Latin America. Offerings do change from time to time but the incredible thing is that every item is plant based, and though you may see a dish with cheese in it, rest assured it is a pseudo form, as no animal fat or dairy is used in any of the ingredients.
Plant is really my go-to restaurant when I’m in Asheville. I give accolades to anyone with the ability to transform a Brussel sprout or a beet into a divine, tongue tantalizing creation. Ingredients such as okra, eggplant, artichoke, and squash are in varying ways assembled with ponzu broth, cilantro mojo, red curry, ginger and kimchi to extraordinary feats of culinary creation. The ingenuity of each dish is only fully appreciated in every palate pleasing forkful. Plant offers quite a wonderful assortment of plant-based foods, and even their desserts and ice creams need mention here.
One of the things that I love most about this restaurant, and the Asheville vibe in general, is that there is an overwhelmingly communal feeling. There is a thriving local presence and much of downtown Asheville and small surrounding areas have not succumbed to corporate America. The backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains are not entirely blemished by chain restaurants but rather embrace local startups and independent ownership. A good majority of restaurateurs source their products locally and encourage a farm to table experience.
Plant expresses their concern for the environment and healthy living through their food. All ingredients are derived from the Earth and promote compassion, a healthy lifestyle and longevity.
If you happen to be in Asheville soaking up the groovy, laid-back mountain scene, step out of your comfort zone and give Plant an opportunity to release your burgeoning taste buds. Plant is only open for dinner and I highly recommend making reservations.