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Monday, June 17, 2024


Plant Life on P

Planta Cocina, a Latin/Asian vegan restaurant, has sprouted at 1460 P St. NW. You’ll find this handsome, trendy newcomer in the thriving Logan Circle neighborhood. Part of the Toronto-based Chase Hospitality Group, this local offshoot is ensconced in a bright, airy space with a 45-seat patio. Peter, our friend Katherine and I ventured to Planta Cocina on a chilly Sunday. Our trio was seated at a roomy, comfy booth. 

Planta Cocina’s chilaquiles is a montage of tortilla chips, salsa, plant-based feta and creme, topped with a vegan egg.

Planta’s kitchen dispenses such innovative dishes as “bang bang” broccoli with sweet chilis and peanut sauce, my favorite in the leafy lineup. The crunchy broccoli florets were crisply fried, the sauce imparted just enough zing. Spinach and mushroom tacos seemed a tad mushy, but the accompanying tomatillo salsa rescued them somewhat. Chilaquiles involved tortilla chips topped with salsa, plant-based feta and crema, crowned with an easy-over egg. The egg, sourced from a California company, mimicked the texture of the real thing. Part of the concoction arrived stone cold. But Jonah, our pleasant, helpful waiter, replaced it with a complimentary corn waffle, topped with sweetened whipped “cream” and berry compote. Peter, who possesses the family’s sweet tooth, enjoyed the waffle for dessert.

Planta’s sushi lineup features creative substitutions. Watermelon replaces the usual ahi tuna, eggplant subs for unagi (eel) and heart-of-palm supplants crabmeat. Peter just had to try the bright red nigiri watermelon item, which looked better than it tasted.

Planta’s cocktail list includes zany concoctions like the Rosarita (tequila, watermelon, rose hips), a rum-based kombucha mojito, and a Oaxacan old fashioned. There’s also wine and beer; I sipped a pleasant Sicilian pinot grigio. My fellow diners quaffed mint tea poured from a pretty little teapot. Planta Cocina weekends bring brunch, including “bottomless.” On Wednesdays, wines are half-priced. Our lunch for three, before tip, came to $103. Service, which included moving us from a draft and fixing our wobbly table, was excellent.

For Planta hours and more information, visit www.plantarestaurants.com.

A Planta sweet finale is the corn waffle topped with whipped “cream” and berry compote.

More Logan Lowdown

From downtown to Logan Circle: after 11 years ensconced in the old Garfinckel’s department store space, MXDC Cocina Mexicana & Tequileria has moved. You’ll find the new digs at 1610 14th St. NW. This place is gorgeous. Colorful murals, other artwork and Mexican motifs grace the rustic walls and cozy alcoves. Created by award-winning chef Todd English, MXDC showcases traditional dishes from various regions throughout Mexico. Emerging from the gleaming, open kitchen are tortilla soup, rockfish ceviche, several kinds of quesadillas and umpteen varieties of tacos. Heading the dinner entree menu are beer-battered mahi-mahi, carne asada, seven-chili lamb shank, roasted chicken and carne asada (grilled steak).

MXDC’s Logan Circle space retains the popular weekend brunch with crabcake Benedict, huevos rancheros and short rib hash. Sangria, margaritas and other potent potables flow. For MXDC hours and more information, visit www.mxdcrestaurant.com.

Paris in NoMa

We’ve checked out Pastis, the new French restaurant at 1323 Fourth St. NE, in the Union Market District (NoMa). We loved it. It’s no coincidence that Pastis ‒ named for the aniseed-flavored aperitif ‒ is reminiscent of Logan Circle’s Le Diplomate. Both French charmers are part of the acclaimed Starr Restaurant Group.

MXDC Mexicana has forsaken its downtown digs and resettled in a handsome Logan Circle space.

Our group of three was seated at a comfy booth in the rear dining area. Representing myriad regions of France, the carte du vin was absolutely mind boggling. I had not encountered such a lengthy wine list since Peter and I dined at France’s famed Troisgros years ago. However, I settled for a pleasant (if pricy!) $17 glass of rose.

We were tempted to fill up on the marvelous, chewy whole-grain bread. But we managed to save room for our main events. My quiche Lorraine, the Gallic classic of eggs, Gruyere, bacon and onion, was gossamer-light, supported by a firm, chewy crust. Peter chose sardines en conserve, simply an open can of sardines escorted by a roll and butter. He asked if the fish came from Trader Joe’s. “No, the sardines were shipped directly from France,” our server explained. No wonder they cost $24. But the tasty appetizer was nearly worth the price.

Pastis also offers a small raw bar and other brunch favorites like eggs Benedict (Parisian ham, hollandaise), and eggs Norwegian, where smoked salmon replaces the usual ham. The dinner menu showcases onion soup, moules frites, branzino and “bar” steak with maitre d’hotel butter (mixed with parsley and lemon juice). A nod to France’s neighbor Italy is the spaghetti Bolognese. Next time.

At Pastis, the new French charmer in NoMa, classic quiche Lorraine is a favorite brunch dish.

From the brief dessert menu, we sampled the tarte au citron meringue ‒ essentially a lemon meringue pie topped with a few berries. Among other sweet finales are creme caramel, profiteroles, dark chocolate mousse and sorbet. Our lunch for two came to $72.60 before tip. Service was excellent. For Pastis hours and more information, visit www.pastisdc.com.

And …

Nearby, Sweetgreen has opened its umpteenth local outlet at 1304 Fourth St. NE. This leafy eatery is known for its overflowing kale Caesars, Italian chopped salads, crispy rice bowls and miso-glazed salmon. For details, visit www.sweetgreen.com.

Shaw & MVT RAMMY Finalists

Folks in Shaw and the Mount Vernon Triangle are buzzing about the 2024 RAMMY Awards finalists. Among neighborhood contenders are Stellina Pizzeria (up for Casual Restaurant of the Year); Causa/Amazonia (Formal Fine Dining); Carlos Delgado of Causa/Amazonia for Chef of the Year, and Bar Chinois (Best Bar). Sponsored by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), the 42nd Annual RAMMY Awards Gala will be held July 21 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For tickets, complete list of finalists and more information visit www.ramw.org

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