Plnthouse, an all vegan restaurant located in the 1 Hotel in Miami Beach, represents some of what I love about going out for vegan food, and some what I – to be kind – don’t so much love. But you can’t talk about the food at Plnthouse without first talking about everything but the food at Plnthouse.
Plnthouse – the restaurant, not the food – is the apotheosis of why people move to Miami. My wife and I went on an early-February weekend, and while much of the country was scraping ice off their windshields and Googling the symptoms of frostbite, we took in 180 degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and sunbathers on the lanai. The space is magnificent, particularly for a casual, pool-adjacent restaurant. The decor is minimalist and neutral, and yet, simultaneously, you’ll probably spend most of your meal unable to ignore its perfection.
Now for the food…and what I loved about it. A few bites in and it becomes apparent that Plnthouse is not the creation of an amateur. It is not the result of someone who once made a solid batch of vegan cookies for his friends and was then convinced by them that he should open a vegan restaurant (the he, in this case, is Matthew Kenney). It is utterly clear that the menu is the brainchild of someone who has spent much of his time thinking about and experimenting with how to bring innovation to vegan food.
I’ve had plenty of veggie burgers, but never one with beet ketchup and sunflower cheese. I’ve had lots of veggie wraps, but never one served with a side of cashew(?) jalapeno sauce. Like most home cooks, I get stuck in ruts of cooking the same dishes over and over, or slight variations of those same dishes over and over. Eating at Plnthouse reminded me that a little imagination in the kitchen can create an entirely novel experience at the table.
Now for the food…and what I didn’t so much love. According to Wikipedia, a slider is a small sandwich typically about 2 inches across. I don’t know that the burger at Plnthouse qualifies as one, but it was close. I shared it with my wife and my half was about three bites, notwithstanding the large pretzel bun it was served on.
The Banh Mi – what I refer to as the veggie wrap – contained eggplant and pickled veggies and came wrapped in an overwhelming amount of raw collard greens. Strip away the expensive decor of the restaurant and the celebrity chef behind it, and the wrap felt like something you might get in the prepared sandwich section of Whole Foods.
And for a counter-service restaurant, the prices are kind of outrageous. The burger and wrap we got were two of the least expensive items on the menu, which along with the two small chocolate chip cookies we got for dessert, ended being over $40. You might think it’s a mistake, but their smoothies range from $12 to $20. Yes, it’s that kind of place.
Although I have no plans (or cravings) to run back to Plnthouse, I am sure I will go again at some point: partly because of how interesting the food is, and partly because of a lack other choices. Any Miamian serious about veganism should have Plnthouse on their list of places to try once. As for trying it a second time, that’s your call.