Planty of surprises
We’re obviously not vegetarians but we try to reduce our consumption of meat. We do this for health, humane, and environmental reasons. This self-imposed reduction has meant that we have been more able to explore the world of meatless cuisine. We’ve found some truly excellent dishes we enjoy at home at least as much (or more) than what we might otherwise eat. We’re now veg-curious and always want to try out vegetarian/vegan restaurants if only to see what creations they can come up with using only plants. While our last foray had middling results, Plantitude in Ladysmith impressed us with its bright atmosphere, good service, and very, very, delicious food.
The restaurant is located right in the main drag in Ladysmith and there is ample street parking, though you might need to walk a block or two if the neighbourhood is busy. The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the ample patio space nestled between the buildings, though on our visit we preferred the air conditioned inside seating.
Inside is a bright and sunny café with bold colours and modern seating. It’s an open area and not particularly cozy or intimate, but it does impart a sense of freshness that goes hand-in-hand with the menu offerings. A hostess promptly greeted us us with a smile and seated us.
Plantitude is semi-locavore, meaning they source local food ingredients when possible. This also applies to their drinks menu. While were were initially disappointed that they were out of stock on the first two drink orders we made, they did have some Longwood beers available so we enjoyed one of those. (And some waters – it was a hot day!)
Since we were visiting for lunch, we ordered a soup/salad/sandwich combo for one of us, and the very interesting-sounding Spicy Lemongrass “Chikin” & Veg Bowl for the other. We had some initial sticker shock at the prices on the menu – $20+ for lunch items is pretty steep, but we would soon learn that these were surprisingly hearty meals.
The sandwich combo was a BLT (with “bacun” of course) on rye, with a “beefy” barley soup, and a garden salad with house dressing. The sandwich, while good, was probably the least interesting part of the combo. It was a well made BLT with toasty bread, crispy veg and plenty of (plant-based) mayo, but “bacun” is not bacon. This was a good sandwich, but doesn’t reach the heights of some of the other amazing BLTs we’ve had (like here and here). The barley soup was shockingly good, and they weren’t kidding about it’s “beefiness” despite it having no meat. We assume there was a mushroom stock base used to get that rich umami flavour. We could have eaten a vat of this, and we hope it’s a regular menu item for Plantitude.
Lastly, the humble garden salad. Holy Pamela Anderson there is some magic in that house dressing. It was so… so… wait, what even was this? We had to ask. Our server explained it was a miso and apple cider vinegar dressing with black sesame. It was a Plantitude invention and was made in house. They should be proud. The dressing was sweet, salty, sour, umami, thick, smooth, hearty, light – it’s hard to describe and we really want you to go give it a try. We loved is so much, we left with a tub of the stuff.
The other dish we ordered was the lemongrass “chikin” bowl. Take a look a the picture of this thing. You’ve got a bed of warm rice, then the fried (tofu?) chikin with peppers and chickpeas, and all topped with fresh cabbage, sprouts, and other veg. Better yet, it also had that dreamy miso dressing on it.
There was a lot going on in the bowl, and many different flavours. We like lemongrass so the marinated chikin was awesome, the roasted veg and rice were great against the crispness of the fresh veg, and then the killer dressing on top brought it all home. This was also a large dish and we were completely stuffed to the gills after eating all of it.
Just a note on the plant-based meats and cheeses. We’ve mentioned before that we generally avoid vegan/vegetarian dishes that rely on these sort of “fake” ingredients, preferring instead to try less processed, all-veg meals. Plantitude’s menu doesn’t really allow for this as the vast majority of the items include chikin, or bacun, or vegan “cheese” and so on. While we weren’t to enthused about this at first, the food here was good enough to have changed our position on this, and we will be more receptive to these kind of foods in the future.
Ok now for the bad news. Plantitude ain’t cheap. Even after accounting for the tub of dressing we brought home with us, our total for lunch and one drink, with tax and a modest tip was approximately $60. Still, we consider this good value based on the large portions, hearty quality ingredients, and mostly, the taste.
We were quite pleasantly surprised by Plantitute. This place hit a home run on flavour, but has good service, and a pleasant eating experience too. The prices might be an issue for some, but we think the value is still good. We really want to impart that you do not need to be a vegetarian to have a great meal here. Take your Uncle Ray who eats barbeque three meals a day and see what he thinks! If you do, maybe we’ll see you there!