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Plant-based Chicken & Waffles is a popular item at The Plot in Oceanside, which opened in January. Courtesy photo
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Lick the Plate: A plant-based twist at The Plot in Oceanside

The Plot is one of those restaurant names that I could have come up with many clever headlines for but decided to keep it simple and go with their mantra preceding the restaurant name.  I think it tells their story the most succinctly so that’s what I went with.  In a world where Burger King is selling a plant-based Whopper, mainstream acceptance of this healthy lifestyle is at hand.  Now we just need all those Burger King eaters to support local chef-driven joints like the Plot who are taking it to another level.

I met owners Davin and Jessica Waite a few years back when Lick the Plate was on KPRI and had them over for a fun interview shortly after they had opened Wrench & Rodent Seabastropub about a block away from The Plot. Despite the name that threw some for a loop, they were, and still are creating some of the most innovative sushi creations and the like in San Diego…and still packing them in.

I remember Jessica mentioning at the time that she was vegan and her dream of opening a plant-based restaurant located in Oceanside. Well that all came to be in January of this year when The Plot joined Wrench & Rodent, The Whet Noodle and Pickled Ginger Catering to Davin and Jessica’s growing family of restaurants.

Davin and Jessica Waite recording Lick the Plate on 101.5 KGB. Photo by David Boylan

So plant-based cuisine unto itself is really nothing new to North County or Lick the Plate, but as with any restaurants along a similar theme, the folks creating in the kitchen make all the difference.  Besides the culinary genius of Davin Waite directing the kitchen, having chef Jesse Paul come out to say hello during our meal was another big arrow in the kitchen at The Plot.  Jesse wowed us for several years with his Wooden Spoon restaurant in Escondido where he had a solid five-year run in a location that would have done most non-chain restaurants in a lot sooner.

They also partnered with veteran local chef Christopher Logan and spent endless hours in the test kitchen, crafting a healthy menu that actually tastes amazing. “The Plot’s team consists of some of the most talented people I’ve come across in the food community,” said Davin, “We have those that live and eat plant-based and those that are non-plant based, but they all have the most important thing in common: they love good food. And we can guarantee we’re going to deliver that to everyone who walks in the door.”

That is a key element to this place, the shared love of good food.  Jessica is also president of the Berry Good Food Foundation whose goal is to create a fair food system where nothing is destined for the landfill — a system that she hopes will serve as a business model for others.

The Plot’s menu omits processed proteins and instead, the culinary team will make all plant-based proteins in-house, except for their organic tofu sourced locally from San Diego Soy Dairy, which is the foundation for Davin’s surprising creation: “imitation-imitation” crab, made from mushrooms. That is not a typo, it really is called “imitation-imitation” crab and I had it in one of their rolls and it worked just fine.

Speaking of the menu, here is a brief overview then I’ll get into what I sampled. Dishes include huevos rancheros, chicken and waffles, sweet potato pancakes, polenta and sausage, biscuits and gravy, beet Reuben, sloppy sliders, mushroom aguachile, takoyaki, cauliflower with stem pesto, squash crud, crabby cakes, potato cakes with lentil caviar, strawberry stem pesto pasta, fish and chips, bone marrow with smoky stuffed potato, celeriac ham with mushroom Demi-glace, agave walnut tofu stir fry, cauliflower chop with avocado seed mole and more.

While checking out the menu prior to dining I got all excited when I saw spicy tuna included in a couple of their sushi rolls. The word Tuna did have an umlaut above the letter u denoting a plant-based version of a meat item. I did not know that at the time but now feel so much more vegan in the know. By the way, that goes for crab, chicken, cheese, etc.

For example, the Chronic Roll consists of spicy tuna topped with grilled shrooms and spicy citrus and all that is the plant-based creation of the kitchen. I had the Chicken & Waffles served with “some maple love” and honestly, it was darn near chicken in its consistency and flavor. The Meatless Loaf which is a lentil and wild rice loaf with mushroom and beet demi, navy beans and charred chard was very “meaty” as well. I told Davin that if he can create vegan spongy white bread and put a meatless loaf sandwich on the menu I would give him another column on just that. Stay tuned.

Beverage wise they utilize local award-winning roaster Steady State Roasting Co. for their coffee and have a full selection of local kombucha of the soft and hard varieties. Beer and wine of the organic persuasion are plentiful as well as a simple dessert menu.

Solstice Interiors created the interior design and Surface Theory integrated reclaimed mushroom wood into the interior.

The Plot is a “plant-based haven” as they call it that will satisfy omnivores and vegans alike. They are located in South Oceanside at 1733 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside. Hours are breakfast from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, visit theplotrestaurant.com. Listen to the Lick the Plate interview on 101.5 KGB m-f at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. or podcast it at www.lick-the-plate.com .

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