Cooking Classes

Matthew Kenney's Plant Food + Wine: Raw Food for People Who Don't Like Raw Food

Matthew Kenney has called Wynwood's Plant Food + Wine: "the most beautiful restaurant I've ever worked on." After visiting, it's easy to see why the celebrity chef gushes about the eatery, located at the Sacred Space (105 NE 24th St.). Guests are greeted by a sprawling, indoor-outdoor space complete with towering palms, a tranquil reflecting pool, and minimalist-style seating.

The décor fits the menu: sophisticated, vibrant, tropically-inspired. While some items might be new to diners (kelp noodles, dulse), for the most part, the ingredients are recognizable, albeit used in innovative ways. Mustard seeds transform into caviar, spinach becomes a dumpling wrapper, and macadamia is turned into mascarpone. New Times was invited to sample the menu of plant-based offerings.
A flora artisanal cheese plate ($18) is a colorful platter with white truffle cheese and smoked cheddar (both made with cashew and macadamia), white peppercorn made with cashew, sweet pickles, fennel crackers, and mustard seed caviar.

Kimchi dumplings ($15) are topped with ginger foam and wrapped in delicate spinach paper. Other items include bahn mi lettuce wraps ($14) stuffed with red pepper, mint, and daikon, with smoked chili-almond pate; a hearts of palm ($16) salad with leche de tigre, choclo (large Peruvian corn), and avocado; zucchini lasagna ($22) with macadamia ricotta, spicy marinara, and basil-mint pesto; cacio e pepe ($21) with kelp noodles (prepared with baking soda to make them softer, the waiter revealed) paired with watercress and green olive puree. For dessert there's a starfruit tart ($14) stuffed with papaya, coconut, and macadamia mascarpone; and a flowery and sweet strawberry hibiscus cheesecake ($12), which the server revealed is one of the eatery's most popular items.

Even vegans who don't generally like raw food for its one-dimensional qualities will find Plant's cuisine to be hearty and filling. Though everything sampled was raw, it was difficult to tell an oven wasn't involved. The trick is Kenney's generous use of nuts, spices, and nontraditional flavor combinations. The end result is surprisingly nourishing. 

The real question, of course, is would omnivores want to eat here? According to the server (an omnivore himself), the clientele has been a mix of about 60 percent vegan, 40 percent nonvegan. All have left happy and satisfied — so he said.

After dinner, a quick tour from the manager revealed a meticulously clean kitchen and prep area. We also got a glimpse of the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, complete with tables topped with food processors and walls lined with nutrient-dense nuts, seeds, and spices in glass jars.

Plant Food + Wine is a picturesque place and appropriate for curious omnivores, vegans, and raw foodies, alike. Admittedly, the food doesn't come cheap. But this is Miami; does anything?

Plant Food + Wine is located at 105 NE 24th St., Miami. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; noon to 11 p.m. Thursday; and noon to midnight. Friday and Saturday.  
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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. She is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac