Get a taste of PLANTA

Ari Kittrie, Reporter

In the crowded field of vegan eateries, Bethesda’s newest restaurant PLANTA, a high-end “100% plant-based restaurant,” stands out from the rest of its competitors. 

PLANTA, which was founded in Toronto in 2016, has skyrocketed in popularity with additional locations in Miami and New York. Its newest site, which opened in downtown Bethesda on Feb. 12, brought its well-honed and delectable menu to the Washington, D.C. area.

The first thing you will notice when you walk into PLANTA is its verdant decor, hence the name. With its bamboo-lined columns, lampshades in the shape of flowers and bar with a rich green backsplash, PLANTA succeeds at making you feel as though you are in a forest.

What really stands out about PLANTA is its nutrient-rich food. I find it incredible that the restaurant takes foods such as mushrooms and ahi watermelon and makes them taste like meat. 

For example, the Dragon Roll ($16.25) tasted like salmon and tuna, even though it only consisted of tempura broccoli, spinach, avocado and spicy unagi sauce made of miso and lemon. The faux meat inside with avocado on top made it delicious, but it is still a bit pricey given that it only came with eight pieces in a roll. But for those who enjoy Asian seafood, this is a must-have.

I also enjoyed the appetizers, and I was especially surprised by the Bang Bang Broccoli ($13.75). The dish is fried broccoli slathered with a piquant sweet chili and peanut sauce. My favorite part about the Bang Bang Broccoli was its spicy sauce. For those who enjoy eating spicy food, it is truly worth your while. This is one of the foods on the menu that has the best value for its cost. 

Another appetizer that I enjoyed was the Cauliflower Tots ($11.75). Its golden-brown baked outside matched with the creamy truffle aioli on top is the perfect combination. While it was very good, the portion size was minuscule with only five Cauliflower Tots in total.

What really made PLANTA special was its presentation. Each meal looks more like a work of art than a dish. The California Pizza ($20.25) was especially well-presented with its arugula layered top mixed in with the avocado. Additionally, the dragon roll was visually appealing with its multi-color layers in a snake-like roll spread out on a long platter adorned with soy sauce.

For dessert, I had the NY Style Cheesecake ($12) which is a non-dairy cheesecake topped with a cherry compote. While the dessert was dairy-free, it tasted like it was a real cream cheese-based cheesecake. Additionally, PLANTA serves an enormous plant-based cookie ($7). The cookie is as big as a plate with carob morsels that look and taste like chocolate chips. I recommend purchasing this cookie when you go to PLANTA with family or a large group of friends because it is a dish you can easily share. 

In addition to the stunning presentation of its dishes, I also relished PLANTA’s top-tier service. The waiters in their black-clad attire were very attentive and did a great job explaining the menu. Also, the food came relatively quickly which was impressive given the amount that I ordered. 

PLANTA’s ability to master the art of faux meat while also being creative  makes even carnivores enjoy its plant-based delicacies. The restaurant succeeds at creating a chic atmosphere that makes it great for any special occasion such as a birthday, an anniversary or a date night. For students and faculty at CESJDS, PLANTA is a must-go when out with either friends or family, as long as you are willing to pay the hefty price.