Planta is a restaurant where everything is 100% plant-based. When I ask venerable local chef David Lee (of the reputable Nota Bene ) what that means, he says it's just as it sounds: no animal products are used whatsoever. But you won't find any nut "meat" or "milk" here: it's more about finding versatility using only plant-based ingredients.
No one is more up to that challenge than Lee. Apparently one of his customers at Nota Bene often made requests to alter menu items so they would fit his strict diet, and Lee complied, happy to take on the challenge. Not long after, he started eating a plant-based diet as well, and partnered with Steven Salm , who had been doing the same thing but for a little longer.
The interior speaks to this blend of hip and heart, not for a second sacrificing the luxurious wow factor that Yorkville customers likely expect with design by East Studio . Candice Kaye custom designed their funky jungle plant printed wallpaper. Couches and comfy chairs are everywhere, along with eye-catching light fixtures. Tisha Miles, who painted the six murals in Kasa Moto , did the giant leaf on one of their walls.
Appetizers here are artful, delicate creations. The watermelon poke ($13) is gluten-free, served floating in a bowl of ice. It's smashed avocado, watermelon that's been sous vide in kombu, toasted nori, and their house-made citrus soya crumble, finished with large rice paper chips.
Another appetizer is the coconut ceviche ($13). Lee explains he could make this exact same dish with fish: young coconut has a very similar texture to sea scallops. The coconut is marinated in lime juice, chilis, and onion, topped with sliced avocado and smashed organic corn nuts, and dotted with a date puree.
The cauliflower tots ($9) are cauliflower and potato topped with truffle soy milk and vegetable oil mayo and truffled nut "parmesan," and served with a lemon wedge which actually offsets the truffle.
As for mains, the 18 carrot dogs ($17) use smoked organic carrots finished on a plancha instead of hot dogs. They're surprisingly hot-doggy, served in a house-made bun that uses flour from K2 , a local Ontario mill, and turmeric which gives the bun a surprising yellow colour. The dog is topped with sauerkraut, dill pickle, mayo, and mustard, and served with spiced fries.
Our other main is the Habibi salad ($17), and incorporates David Lee's grandmother's split pea recipe. All salads are gluten free, so it's cauliflower "cous-cous," lentils, parsley, mint, coriander, currants, sumac, za'atar, and tahini.
Planta does cocktails with cold-pressed juice bases from Village Juicery , too. We try the Beauty and the Beet ($11) made with the special beet-based Planta Punch Village Juicery designed just for them, incorporating dark rum, coconut, lemon, and agave nectar as well.
Photos by Jesse Milns