26 Jun Plant – Asheville, NC
Phenomenal food and stunning plating best describe this upscale spot in Asheville.
Understated and elegant, with what seems to be ample parking and a covered patio area outside. When you first enter, you have full view of a sparkling open kitchen, and then turn to see the clean modern looking dining room. Overall, a very inviting presentation.
TLDR: For apps we had the plantains and the plant (cheese) plate. Both were excellent, with artful and unexpected combinations of flavors that balanced well. Our entrees were the Seitan Chele Con Queso and the Bibimbap. Both were excellent, but the Chele Con Queso was the clear winner here. For dessert we had the Blueberry-Chai Cheesecake and the Blackout Pie. The cheesecake was silky smooth and just the right balance of sweet and tart, while the blackout pie was rich chocolate decadence. Overall a stunning meal. Read below for the full mouth watering details…
We had a reservation for 8pm, and thought the restaurant was full, they had a table held for us and we were seated immediately when we arrived. There was what appeared to be a birthday party on the patio and a steady flow of customers the entire time we were there, but that did not seem to impact the service as our waiter, Ryan, greeted us promptly and was very attentive throughout the meal.
Since it was our first time dining at Plant, we asked Ryan for some recommendations. He suggested the Plantains, Plant (cheese), and Seitan Chele Con Queso. We ordered all three, plus the Tofu Bibimbap. OH. MY. GOD. Each one was better than the next.
First the appetizers:
Crispy fried plantains with sour cream and a house made hot sauce that had a bit of a smoky chipotle flavor. The sour cream cuts the spiciness of the hot sauce, and the shredded scallions added a bit of contrast both in color and flavor. We fought over the last bite (Julia won).
The cheese plate is a sampling of a two house made cheeses, seasonal fresh fruit, pickled vegetables and fresh focaccia points. There was a firm cashew cheese dusted with paprika, and a soft cheese they call Farmer’s Involtini, which was wrapped in a slice of yellow squash. Since it’s peach season, right now the fruit is peaches, which the chefs at Plant have macerated in what they describe as a “rosemary amber.” I’m not sure exactly how they make them, but the combination of peaches and rosemary was spectacular. The pickled veg was radish, which had an Asian inspired flavor to it. The flavor combinations on this plate are truly spectacular. The cashew cheese pairs beautifully with the radish. But the real star here was a the peaches with Involtini on a bit of focaccia – WOW. What an artful and delicious combination of flavors. Fresh, sweet, salty, savory, perfectly balanced all in one bite.
We could have happily stopped here, very satisfied with a delicious set of apps. But, for the sake of our fans, we decided to sacrifice our waistlines and push on to entrees.
The Chele Con Queso was a generous portion of crispy house made seitan over a soft and flavorful tamale, set on a bed of wilted romaine, topped with a mildly spicy queso and dressed with pickled red onions and jalapenos. Once again a perfect balance of textures and flavors juxtaposing the crispy seitan with the soft tamale, and the lightly spicy queso with a slight tanginess of pickled onions.
Bibimbap was a colorful bowl of variety. Spicy firm tofu, topped a bed of rice, kimchi, baby broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, seasoned cashews, and purple cabbage. All accompanied with a seasoned soy sauce. We weren’t sure how this was supposed to be eaten, but that didn’t stop us from digging in. We tasted the parts separately, then tried various combinations…which pretty much all worked well.
By this time we were completely stuffed. So, of course, being the excellent server that he is, Ryan didn’t have to work hard to talk us into dessert. We once again deferred to his recommendations and got the Blueberry-Chai Cheesecake and the Blackout Pie.
The Blackout Pie seems to be the specialty of the house and what we noticed tables on both sides of us ordering. There’s good reason for that – it is about the most decadent thing you will ever put in your mouth! I’ve often said that ganache is one of the most perfect foods (okay, not really a food on it’s own, but cut me some slack). This Blackout Pie is like peanut butter fudge and chocolate ganache’s prodigy in a cookie crust, with a scoop of salted peanut butter ice cream on the side, just in case the chocolate-peanut-butter-ganache-fudginess was not enough decadence for one plate.
And then there’s the cheesecake. Silky smooth, creamy, rich – but not too rich, sweet and tangy, like a good cheesecake should be. Topped with a blueberry compote and served with a dollop of basil sorbet. Yes, that is not a typo – basil sorbet. The chef here at Plant is a master at combining flavors, because who would think of pairing basil with blueberry cheesecake. Well, it turns out the basil was an amazing way to cleanse the palate after a savory meal, and balance the sweetness of the desserts.
Overall a fantastic experience at Plant. If you’re in the area be sure to eat here. Their menu changes monthly/seasonally. I’d love to never miss a menu change here just to taste the flavor combinations this culinary team comes up with. I could easily enjoy eating here often enough to work through the entire menu each cycle. I suspect they have some regulars that do just that. If we were local, we’d be among them. We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in Asheville!
Just in case you have trouble finding them, here’s a link to their website.