Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2018

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E nter an elegant, serene patio laced with leafy trees, and settle into a stunning meal of vegan cuisine. You're about to enjoy the flower-bedecked menu from Matthew Kenney at Plant Food + Wine. Gorgeous and delicious food, perfect presentation, and a full list of organic and biodynamic wines form the picture here. While this is a decidedly upscale spot, there's also a beach-casual vibe to the Abbot Kinney location. This is haute cuisine served with a smile and a graceful bow to Mother Earth. Kenney's food is creative plant-based cuisine that's refined and healthful. You'll feel good after eating a veri- table feast. Kenney's previous Westside venue, M.A.K.E., locat- ed in the Santa Monica Place mall, was raw vegan, minimalist and sleek, and perhaps too outside-the-box for diners not al- ready convinced of the benefits of high-end vegan cuisine. There are no such problems for PFW, where raw vegan dishes happily coexist with cooked courses, and familiar dishes such as lasagna and polenta are accessible and delicious for diners of all stripes. Inside the restaurant, two small, white-dominated dining rooms include marble-topped tables and a cozy fireplace; out- side the garden is truly Edenic. Wherever you sit, intelligent waitstaff don't miss a beat, offering specials and suggesting wine pairings — or perhaps a house-made Kombucha with your meal. We dined twice, once for dinner, in which we consumed per- fect gnocchi in a sauce that tasted incredibly rich and creamy but went down light as air; dotted with fragrant small shitake mushrooms, it was savory and satisfying. Grape and strawber- ry fresh Kombucha was crisp and uncloying; a basil lemonade was a tangy treat. As a starter, don't miss their soft house-made cheeses — vegan cheese that is, and every bit as good, but better for you, than the dairy version. Featuring white truffle, smoked cheddar, and fresh herb cheese, ac- companied by crisp, thin crackers, you could argu- ably build a meal around this appetizer alone. Don't miss the kumquat jam as a condiment. The second experi- ence, a many-course outing for Mother's Day Brunch, gave us the op- portunity to try the won- derfully tangy Little Gem Caesar salad, made with sea beans, capers, dulse, and a sunflower seed Caesar dressing that had a slightly citrus edge and was crisply refreshing. The hearts of palm ceviche was served on a soft slice of potato bread at brunch, but is usually available as a stand-alone. Featuring coastal tomatoes, avoca- do, sea beans, and lime leaf, it is reminiscent in chewy texture of a squid ceviche fresh from the sea, but with a lighter and more delicate quality to the composition. The kelp noodles, a vivid- ly beautiful, emerald laced dish, offered a variety of intricate flavors, the combination of slightly salty kelp with snap peas, pea sprouts, and oil-cured olives was quite wonderful, both in terms of its texture and its taste. Possibly my favorite dish, the Polenta and Hash was both hearty and sweet, made with wild mushrooms, a fluffy sweet potato hash, harissa, and chimich- urri. The sweetness, offset by the mushrooms, made this the perfect brunch dish. For dessert, the regular menu offered a lovely, lush coconut cream pie with a macadamia nut crust and thinly sliced banana. We also shared a Mother's Day special par- fait made with chia seeds and fresh fruit. Not ordinarily a fan of chia-based desserts, this was delightful, a creamy cloud. A few other holiday treats were given to moms with their meal: dense, chocolatey cacao truffles, a small serving of fresh, sea salt and pepper sprinkled popcorn, and a lovely, sparkling red wine. Overall, this is a special occasion restaurant that begs to be visited for any occasion. Exquisite preparation, friendly staff, and that beautiful garden make this a must-visit for vegans and non-vegans alike. Plant, food, wine — just add you. Plant Food + Wine is located at 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Ven- ice. Visit http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/plant-food-wine- venice Photos: Adrian Mueller All You Need is Thou PLANT FOOD + WINE eat here now By Genie Davis 12 wholelifetimes.com

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