Monday, May 15, 2017

Planta: Globally Inspired Plant-Based Cuisine

Chase Hospitality Group's latest venture Planta, opened last autumn in the space previously occupied by Pangea at Bay and Bloor, partnering with Chef David Lee to fill a void in Toronto's market of upscale, full service, plant-based dining options. The restaurant’s vision was to celebrate innovative cuisine in a beautiful environment without the use of any animal products. Planta is not merely vegetarian — it is full-fledged, all-out, animal-product-free vegan. One of their suppliers is 100km Foods, a local, sustainable food distribution company that delivers produce daily, getting produce from the field to their kitchen within 24 hours. The restaurant also decided to dedicate much of the design to all things green and leafy. Inside the stylish 5,000 square foot space, all the interiors were handled by East Studio and owner, Steven Salm. Brightened up by skylights, the soaring space features checkerboard floors, comfy seating, custom-designed banana leaf wallpaper designed by Candice Kaye and grand green leaf wall mural by Tisha Miles, while one of the walls is verdantly adorned with pockets of greenery and a singular banana tree reigns serenely over this indoor oasis.

Planta’s globally-inspired vegan menu features a version of Hawaiian Poke Salad which is made with compressed watermelon standing in for marinated tuna; the starring ingredient in the Crab Cakes is deliciously convincing hearts of palm; and even the Vegetarian Lasagna forgoes dairy-enriched béchamel or even a sprinkle of cheese in favour of a house-made cashew crema and nut-based faux-ricotta. But one of the most loved and swooned over dishes is their Planta Burger, a fully loaded vegetable burger piled with vegan bacon, queso, pickles, and tomatillo mayo — a carnivore's delight without the meat. And although wheat-based items like this are served, they do have many gluten-free options on the menu. With dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world, the restaurant is opened daily for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. "The restaurant’s busy with guests who’ve been lifelong vegetarians to guest who have never gone a day without meat," chef Lee has said about Planta. "People are excited to try something new."

Located on Bay above Bloor, Planta opened in September 2016

Planta Lunch Menu features totally plant-based dishes

Planta Cocktail Menu of non-alcoholic juices

Turmeric Lemonade with organic cold pressed turmeric, lemon, black pepper and agave

Pecorino from Le Marche by the glass 

Roasted Beets with avocado dill crema, coconut bacon, shaved cucumber and arugula

Sweet Mess Tacos with black beans, pickled cabbage, chipotle mayo, guacamole, corn nuts and cilantro

Fried Kimchi Dumplings with hot chili soy herb oil

Coconut Ceviche with avocado, corn nuts, lime and tortilla chips

Crab Cakes made with hearts of palm, spinach, coconut milk and warm spices

Curry Hot Pot with coconut, turmeric, lemongrass broth, taro root, black rice, kaffir lime leaf, 
bok choy and shiitake mushrooms

Chopped Salad with sprouted mung beans, cucumber, peppers, avocado, pea shoots, 
lemon and creamy jalapeño dressing

The Planta Burger fully loaded with queso, mushroom bacon and pickles with tomatillo ketchup
and spiced fries

Planta's meat-free burger made with black beans and mushrooms

Chef David Lee (R) and and CHG president Steven Salm (L)

Planta Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 16 cookies
Recipe courtesy of Chef David Lee

2 tbsp flax with 1 cup warm water (flax egg)
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine the ground flax seeds with warm water and set aside. Add coconut oil, peanut butter, and vanilla extract to a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugars, baking soda and powder, salt, flour, cocoa and oats. Add the flax egg into the wet mixture and then combine everything together. Mix in your chocolate chips and portion into 3-4 ounce balls by rolling the dough between your hands or using a small ice cream scoop. Arrange the balls with two inches between each on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.

Spiced Roasted Heirloom Carrots 
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef David Lee

1 bunch heirloom carrots, medium size 
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
handful of roughly chopped cilantro
1 tbsp pepitas 

Wash, peel and cut off the ends of the carrots then lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil over the carrots and sprinkle the cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper over top. Mix well to ensure carrots are coated. Roast at 350°F for 40-50 minutes, until carrots are soft and cooked through. Garnish with fresh cilantro and pipitas.