The latest addition to Planet Planta? Planta Cocina.
When the much-lauded chef David Lee opened Planta Yorkville for Steven Salm’s Chase Hospitality Group (CHG) in 2016, there were few restaurants serving thoughtful plant-based cuisine in Toronto, let alone Canada. But Lee’s knack for inventive vegan cooking and the surging popularity of plant-based dining have combined to drive the brand to extraordinary growth, even during Covid-19. In late September, in the financial district, Lee and CHG launched its first Mexican spinoff, Planta Cocina.
“Every cuisine has a plant-based culture,” says Lee. “Mexican felt like the right fit for the brand.” The menu highlights cashew-cheese-stuffed quesadillas and fully loaded nachos topped with pulled barbecued jackfruit. Lee notes that the brined oyster mushrooms in the Baja tacos—his favourite—are encased in the same beer batter recipe used for fish and chips at his long-time downtown stalwart Nota Bene—which, in 2019, became an Asian-themed member of the brand, called Planta Queen.
The Planta powerhouse also has partnerships south of the border. In 2018 the group opened Planta South Beach with Miami-based hospitality entrepreneur David Grutman. Coming soon: Planta and Planta Queen locations in Coconut Grove, West Palm Beach and NYC. Lee remains confident in CHG’s ongoing expansion and success, despite Covid. Planta now offers online ordering for shipping across Canada and the United States. “We had to become more efficient as an organization,” he explains, “strategizing to be stronger, more creative, but not sacrificing the quality of what goes into a dish.” —RENÉE S. SUEN