When I invited my herbivore friend Malibongwe Tyilo to join me, a seasoned carnivore, for lunch at Plant, the city’s hippest new vegan eatery, I knew the steaks were nigh. My recent status as a Tim Noakes convert added to my trepidation: food made from plants only doesn’t exactly thrill me.
Mali, a transitioning vegan, had to lend moral support and provide a sunnier outlook on the whole matter, which he did. We’d hardly sat down and he had us sipping on delicious freshly pressed juices, all the while pointing out his favourite dishes on the menu. Of course, he of the vegan persuasion had been here before! I just didn’t realise how often. But, I was apprehensive in the face of his glee: it was going to take more than just sandwiches and tofu to lure my reluctant inner-vegan out of the closet.
I am happy (and relieved) to say, there was a lot of interesting stuff on the menu. Think mushroom burger, a triple-decker “egg” salad and “cheese” toasties. All thanks to the founder of Plant, Adien Aggenbach, who tried out a variety of unusual recipes beforehand – she brought back some great ideas from a stint in San Francisco – with chef Jess Lahoud. Adien was not only out to show that veganism is a healthy and kind culinary lifestyle, she wanted to prove it’s a mouth-wateringly delicious one, too.
Well, the proof is not just in her divine pudding (think chocolate brownies and cupcakes), she had me at main course already! The Spicy Bean Bowl (R61), à la Tim Noakes (minus the ciabatta), really blew me away. I love chilli, and somehow the burny balance was just right, while the broth, although fairly clear and tomatoey, was surprisingly thick and hearty. And filling. And did I say very yummy?
Mali had one of his faves, a Buddha Box (R59), which I was allowed to taste, and loved, even though its main ingredient is tofu. Crunchy, lots of strong flavours popped, like and sesame seed, sweet peanut butter and zingy ginger – all right up my alley. Talking of peanut butter, Mali and I got into a spoon fight over the Fudge Brownie, a thick and chewy peanut ganache. He was chicken(pea) when it came to the fabulous chilli latte, looking around instead, and musing about how veganism inspires fashion. It was 1pm, after all, and by now the place was teeming with the coolest kids in town.
Insider tip If you’re going by car, there’s loads of safe parking at Heritage Square.
Times Monday – Thursday, 9am – 6pm
Friday, 9am – 9pm
Saturday 9am – 3pm