Refreshing beverages and skillfully cooked dishes generally made with good, healthful ingredients go down easy in this bright new eatery
As restaurant names go, SOW Plated falls short of catchy. The eatery in the Shops on Lane Avenue mall rocking that moniker stands tall on ideology, though.
Reading its website, you’ll discover that SOW Plated is a vegan-friendly, zero-waste-focused, local ingredient-sourcing place that’s unsparing with words to describe itself, and that SOW is an acronym for “sustainable, organic, wellness.” If this website scan leads to eye rolls or ennui — it can — don’t let either deter you from visiting this bright new restaurant, because it serves vibrant, delicious fare that’d be impressive even if it weren’t healthful.
SOW’s casual, Southern California-style aesthetic is visually expressed in a roomy, attractive and predominantly white-tinted space with wooden accents and multiple green plants — curiously, most of the plants are fake. The big and airy, crisp-looking eatery also has giant wicker lampshades, a stylish bar with two TVs, a very handsome patio, plus a knowledgeable staff whose enthusiasm is infectious and well-founded.
A commitment to fresh, seasonal ingredients means the menu changes periodically. But expect skillfully made selections with lively, clear flavors derived from good ingredients frequently invigorated with herbs and citrus. SOW’s strong beverage lineup follows suit.
Among the standout non-alcoholic options, the inspired Beet Drop ($6) counterbalances its namesake earthy vegetable with pineapple, lemon and apple. And the utterly refreshing house kombuchas — three are on tap ($5) — are reason alone to visit SOW.
Lemon kombucha enhances SOW’s Ginger cocktail ($10), a zippy spin on the margarita. Bourbon fans should pick the Citrus cocktail ($11), which is made with Maker’s Mark and lives up to its palate-cleansing title.Like the Beastie Boys, SOW Plated is known to let the Beet, mmm, Drop. (I'll see myself out): Sign up for our daily newsletter
Lemon livens coarse, hearty hummus. Yuzu — a less-common citrus fruit — brightens inhalable and creamy, kale-strewn guacamole. Add to these some dairy-free (but flavorful) pimento-cheese, plus an insufficient amount of so-so grilled pita and toast, and you have the pricey but rewarding and vegan Breads and Spreads appetizer ($14).
Lemon, tart organic berries, pomegranate seeds and pickled onions animate the pretty good, if likewise pricey, Spinach Salad ($13).
The sizable Sustainable White Fish ($24) is worth every cent: A great-tasting piece of expertly seared fish — browned-yet-silky barramundi on my visit — atop a colorful medley of nicely cooked Swiss chard, mushrooms, purple potatoes, squash and thin asparagus. An addictive “garlic umami sauce” contributes additional oomph.
The Organic Chicken entree ($20) is heftier and almost as good. Mint injects high notes into this assembly of a tender, mostly deboned half-bird, roasted purple potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a yogurt-thickened sauce.
Because it stars an intensely beefy and juicy grill-marked patty that’s among the best I’ve tried this year — and I’ve tried many — the Sakura Wagyu Burger ($15) would be a terrific choice regardless of its accompaniments: a barely toasted good bun, zingy “dijon microgreens,” un-melted smoked gouda, plus a side of spiced pita chips that can, and should, be swapped for a soup or salad ($2 upcharge).
SOW’s vegan and gluten-free take on Pad Thai ($16) features a smooth and nutty chile-spiked sauce with hints of ginger and sweetness. This makes a pleasant base for a fiesta of veggies that includes sauteed bok choy, shiitakes, red peppers and onions. Completing the solid ensemble are rice noodles, crushed nuts, cilantro, plus soft tofu that doesn’t bring much to the party.
While enjoying a slice of the Yuzu Pie ($8) — a less-sharp riff on key lime pie — you might be happy that this generous-sized dessert with a cinnamon-scented graham cracker crust, fresh berries and “coconut whip” — a convincing stand-in for whipped cream — is a gluten-free, vegan dish. As with most items I tried here, I just considered its nutritional info to be a bonus for something that’s well-made, attractively plated and delicious.