Toronto-based Founder and CEO Steven Salm and Co-founder and Executive Chef David Lee founded Planta in 2016 to expand the accessibility and acceptability of plant-based dining.
The Fort Lauderdale location is the second in South Florida and gets the additional moniker “Queen [even though it’s not in Wilton Manors],” although the menu and concept appear to be like other Planta restaurants. Founded in Toronto, the restaurant already has locations in New York and Bethesda, with additional outposts planned for Chicago and California.
Using 100% plant-based ingredients, Planta reimagines and reinvents classic recipes. According to the company, this commitment to sustainability extends to all aspects of the business. “Our dedication to environmental sustainability … from our sourcing to our restaurant design, our packaging to our partnerships, we seek to put more back into the world than we take. Additionally, we ensure our products and supplies are delivered in reusable containers to reduce waste and our to-go packaging is made from 100% compostable materials.”
We stopped by about a month after Planta Queen opened to sample its brunch. The brunch menu is limited, but the regular menu is also available at that time, expanding the possibilities. One thing to take note of before we get into menu specifics; as with many vegetarian and vegan restaurants, dining at Planta Queen is a pricey option. It seems counter-intuitive that a meat-free menu would be pricier, but high-quality vegetarian ingredients can be just as costly as animal protein. All that earth-friendly packaging also costs more. How pricey? Our trio each enjoyed a mocktail and an entrée. We also split an oversized cinnamon bun with chai icing as a dessert, and our bill was $115 (before tip!).
In addition to beer, wine, and sake, Planta Queen also specializes in hand-pressed juices and craft cocktails. The cocktails and mocktails add some exotic touches to classic beverages. “Herb Your Enthusiasm” is a concoction of Thai chili-infused tequila, Cointreau, lime, pineapple, and herb syrup. Similar creativity blends rum and kombucha, mezcal with ginger liqueur and passionfruit, and Japanese whiskey with ginger and bitters. The mocktails are cleverly listed on Planta Queen’s menu as “Free Spirits [anti-intoxicant tonics].” The Cucumber Mule combines cucumber water, agave, and ginger beer for a refreshing treat. I opted for the Been There Thai'd That which blends watermelon, Thai basil, yuzu, and agave. It didn’t taste particularly Thai, but it was delicious. Mocktails are $11 each.
The spartan brunch menu lists breakfast futomaki, an ube mochi waffle, chow fun noodles, French toast, fried rice, and a truffle scramble. Fried rice is a traditional Asian breakfast staple, using up leftovers. Planta’s version adds a bit of zing with the addition of kim chi (Korean fermented cabbage), scallions peas and chili oil. The large bowl was filling and comforting, just as it should be. The truffle scramble combines avocado, shaved heart of palm, truffle, and tofu. I’m not fond of scrambled eggs, but the tofu version had the right flavor, but a better consistency.
I opted for something from the “Wok & Noodles” section of the main menu, General D's cauliflower. Although reasonably priced at $14, it was presented in smallish bowl (think breakfast cereal) and didn’t come with any sides. I asked for a side of noodles and was brought a plate of sticky ramen, devoid of sauce, and was charged an additional $12! I would rather pay a few dollars more for a complete dish.
The main menu is divided into five sections. The sushi section features nigiri and maki rolls with veggies and fruit subbing for fish, such as eggplant taking the place of eel in the unagi, and watermelon subbing for spicy tuna. The Chilled & Raw section lists a sunomono salad, Queen Caesar, and a pad thai slaw. Small Plates boasts a bao slider with a chick’n fried mushroom, jackfruit “wings” with sesame soy glaze and nuoc cham sauce, Bang Bang broccoli, and cauliflower tots. Dumpling varieties include spinach shiitake, crispy gyoza (stuffed with cabbage, carrot, cilantro, and mushroom), and sweet corn. Noodles and bowls encompass tom yum and miso soups, Singapore, Dan Dan, Szechuan, udon, and chili peanut noodle bowls as well as two kinds of fried rice.
Service was friendly, helpful (although a heads-up on the $12 side of noodles would have been appreciated), and enthusiastic. While we truly enjoyed our visit to Planta Queen, its high menu prices will keep it from becoming a regular go-to spot. However, we do plan to stop in for Maki Mondays after 5 p.m., when it’s $27 for unlimited maki rolls. Friday cocktail hour also sounds tempting, with $20 dumpling platters.
1201 E Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
If Planta Queen is a little too royal for your wallet, check out these other vegetarian and vegan options. I don’t know why, but it seems as if Hallandale Beach has a substantial number of vegetarian restaurants.
1075 SE 17th St Fort Lauderdale
PS Green Vegan
2306 E Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
900 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale
826 W Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach
5705 Hallandale Beach Blvd., West Park
Holi Vegan Kitchen
701 N Federal Hwy, Hallandale Beach, Florida