The Homegrown Project Presents: Planted with Silvia K Ceramics
I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I do believe when they’re done well, vegetable dishes can rival meat ones. In fact, we should all eat more plants because it’s better for our health and the environment. Planted, a pop-up restaurant set up by friends, Molly and Gabriella, is built on this belief too. Founded in 2016, the ladies set a clear mission: Change the ‘bland and boring’ stigma attached to vegan food and inspire others to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
In March, Planted joined forces with The Homegrown Project, a brand new initiative showcasing the work of local talented makers and creators in tandem with communal dining experiences. As a lover of fine art and obviously, food, there was no way I was going to miss this pop-up.
The venue for the evening was The Square on New England Street, somewhere new to me but not that new to Brighton, opening in May last year. By day the venue is a coffee shop, offering cakes and impressive pancake stacks (and very soon, breakfast and lunch from fellow food bloggers Jess and Josh Cook) but tonight it would become a pop-up restaurant.
The fit out of The Square is very rustic and of an industrial feel, with plywood used for the long tables, benches and counter tops – fitting for the menu theme – rustic and Italian inspired. It was easily large enough for the 45 guests and yet it still felt incredibly intimate with candles glowing on the tables and guests cosied up together on the benches. The local maker on show tonight was Silvia K, whose beautiful ceramic plates we’d be eating our entirely vegan meal off.
Upon arrival, we were offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco with a sprig of rosemary – a first for me but after tasting the subtle infusion, I was sold. After a little wait the first course came out – a warm kale and white bean dip on a lentil bread, with a dusting of paprika and a lovely big wedge of lemon on the side. Despite including two ingredients that ordinarily I’d not like – white beans and lentils – I absolutely loved this dish, with the white beans creamed and seasoned it was delicious.
To follow, mushroom carpaccio with rocket and the dish of the night for me. Instead of fish sauce, which is the traditional element to carpaccio, the mushrooms had been heavily dressed with a high-quality balsamic vinegar, balancing a high acidic flavour with subtle sweet ones. The rocket was pleasingly peppery but not overwhelmingly so and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs for added texture. Again, mushrooms aren’t something I tend to like, unless disguised in a bolognese, but these were mouth-watering. I put my dislike of mushroom down to their slimy texture but the combination of flavours in this dish completely won me round and there wasn’t a morsel left on my plate.
Next out the kitchen was roasted leek, romanesco, ‘ricotta’ and black garlic vinegarette. Romanesco seems to be everywhere at the moment, perhaps that’s due to Waitrose marketing it as an “edible Christmas tree” last year. All I know is it’s a gorgeous vegetable in both look and taste. The dish had a brilliant bite to it, with the romanesco being served raw, or possibly very quickly blanched and topped with flaked almonds. Buried underneath the vegetables was a remarkably creamy goat’s ‘cheese’ that was completely vegan but not that you’d know it. And finally a stunning sweetness from the leeks and delicate seasoning of salt to finish it off.
The last of the main courses to come out was a plant-based polpetta in tomato sauce with polenta and walnut parmesan and purple sprouting broccoli. Essentially the dish was a vegan take on the classic meatball. I was impressed with how much flavour the polpetta had but I didn’t personally like the mashed polenta and walnut parmesan, which was very runny.
Finally on to the dessert, which reminded me of a spruced up choc ice. Desiccated coconut ice cream filled a single raw chocolate cannoli topped with pistachios, alongside rhubarb compote and chopped rhubarb stalks. The dish had serious potential but the rhubarb was very tart alongside bitter dark chocolate it didn’t quite work. A little sweetening was all it needed to make it more palatable.
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
If there’s ever proof that vegan meals can be just as delicious and just as filling as carnivorous ones. This was it. Don’t expect to go home hungry after dining at a Planted pop-up either as I was full by the third course. The service was friendly and attentive and the staff did well to serve us all when the kitchen was so far away from where we were dining. If you’re veggie/vegan this is definitely a must go and if you’re a die-hard meat-eater – give it a go. Planted’s next pop up is at the brand new, The Longhouse (review coming next) and can be booked here via Eventbrite.
The Homegrown Project / Planted Pop Up
37 New England Street
*Disclosure: The Home Grown Project/Planted invited me to dine but this does not have any bearing on my review which will always be an honest account of the experience.
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