What’s the vibe
The latest addition to the lineup of vegan eateries under the Planta name, the Queen Street iteration is nothing like its sisters. If you’re familiar with the Chase Hospitality Group’s Planta Yorkville and Planta Burger, a bright space with a menu of American and Italian fare is likely what comes to mind. Planta Queen does away with all that to go in a different (but still plant-based) direction, with a decidedly Asian-inspired menu and design.
Once home to well-loved Canadian small-plate spot Nota Bene, the sweeping space at Queen and University is now decked out in a dark, moody colour palette with sultry black and gold accents. Doorways feature geometric metal detailing, a hand-painted mural of curving dragons snakes along the walls and in the centre of the dining room a tree lined centrepiece is reminiscent of a rock garden with Japanese Maples.
What to drink
With a menu so focused on spice and flavour combinations, it would be easy to let the cocktail programme take a backseat – but this isn’t the case at Planta Queen. The list of fruity, intricate cocktails makes use of unexpected ingredients. Among our favourites was the sake sangria, a medley of cointreau, green apple liqueur, watermelon, Fever Tree soda and sake, garnished with a lychee.
A select list of wines by the glass includes a few local Ontario brands from Niagara and Prince Edward County, while Sapporo, Asahi Super Dry and Ace Hill are on the minimal list of beer.
For those who wish to sip sans alcohol, they have kombucha on tap, cold-pressed shots and cold-pressed juice – the 'friendly dragon' features pink dragon fruit, apple and lemon. Or heat things up with ‘dragon fire’, a warm drink made with pineapple, ginger, turmeric hibiscus and cayenne. There’s also an assortment of Pluck Tea and nut-based vegan lattes.
What to eat
Showcasing different cuisines from various countries across Asia, chef David Lee’s wide-reaching menu includes a range of items from Thai salad to Chinese noodles and Japanese sushi to Filipino dessert – all made meat- and dairy-free. The snack-sized plates are meant to be shared so order more than a few items to get your fill of all the flavourful plant-based dishes.
Kick things off with a spicy mango and coconut salad, hot kung pao eggplant and udon in a miso coconut milk. Dumpling options are few but flavourful – go for the crispy snow pea leaves or rich and savoury potato truffle dumplings soaked in a coconut milk broth. The vegan imitation nigiri, while slightly on the gimmicky side, is an interesting take on the usually raw fish forward item – ahi watermelon mimics tuna and unagi eggplant replaces eel.
Don’t skip on the dessert – the forbidden rice pudding with mango, coconut milk and vanilla ice cream is the perfect sweet and fruity finale.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $75
180 Queen Street West, 647-812-1221, plantarestaurants.com