Restaurant Review: SŌW Plated
There’s a healthy bit of philosophy that comes along with a visit to SŌW Plated. And that’s healthy in more than one sense of the word. First, SŌW has a stated commitment to generally health-oriented, “nutrient-rich” offerings. There’s more to it than that, though. There are actually three parts (or “pillars”) to its approach: sustainable, organic and wellness. That’s a lot of philosophical commitment – a healthy bit of it.
The heart of it may be in SŌW’s devotion to what it calls being “plant-forward.” Most people have probably heard of the term “plant-based.” According to pedants, “plant-based” is an adjective for ingredients or food that puts plantlife at the center. “Plant-forward,” on the other hand, is an adjective for a style of cooking that’s centered around plant-based foods, but is not limited to such foods.
Indeed, there’s meat on the menu at SŌW. It’s just not necessarily always the star of the show.
There’s also a freshness and lightness to its vibe, and a polish to its serving team. SŌW definitely has its act together. And you can sort of see the philosophy thing coming, just by looking at its name. Places with extra symbols in their names are typically steeped in ideology. In SŌW’s case, the line over the O is a pronunciation symbol, so you don’t pronounce it sow-rhymes-with-cow. SOW-rhymes-with-cow wouldn’t be plant-forward at all.
Ratatouille is on the menu. Given the option, I’m always going to order ratatouille, even if it is $18, which is at the higher end for a dish of stewed vegetables. To be fair, the menu touts a ragout made from San Marzano tomatoes, so that adds some fancy to the equation. San Marzano are Italian tomatoes, ancestors of Roma tomatoes, and super flavorful. Because the success of any ratatouille depends largely on the quality of its tomato base, relying on a gourmet tomato is a good choice. Of course there are plenty of other vegetables in SŌW’s mix, soft summer squash, eggplant and sweet red peppers add dimensional texture and interest and make it a solid summer stew. Perhaps pricey, but also in line with all the rest of the house menu.
Of course ratatouille is a dish that has always been plant-forward. Er, plant-based. The SŌW menu also offers plant-exclusive dishes that more traditionally might incorporate non-planty ingredients, such as a variant on mac & cheese. The typical recipe for that one would involve ample cow juice in the form of butter, milk, and…cheese. Instead, SŌW offers up a Cashew Mac ($16) that hits a similar spot. Built on supple penne pasta spotted with a few bright pops of spring peas, it’s all tied together with a cashew product that adds a robust, savory contribution. It’s not surprising, cashews have a naturally creamy accent, so it makes sense that they work so nicely with pasta.
On the sandwich side, you can score various types of veggie combos, but that’s also the section that answers the question, “Where’s the beef?” It’s right there, in the Wagyu Burger ($15). The meat comes from a domestic beef producer, Sakura, that raises cattle from the original Wagyu bloodline to yield incredibly marbled meat. It makes good burgers too, especially teamed with smoked gouda and dijon micro-greens. At SŌW, it all comes together in a deliciously tidy package, neatly stacked.
Beyond the edibles, there’s also a robust drinkable scene that includes cold-brewed coffee, kombucha, and juice options such as Beet Drop, which offers an appreciated zip from pineapple, apple and lemon additions. To level-up, the bar menu features wine selections along with cold-pressed cocktails.
SŌW plated serves lunch and dinner (and some philosophy) every day starting at 11 a.m. It’s located at 1625 W. Lane Ave.
For more information, visit sowplated.com.
*Editor’s note: SŌW presents a seasonal menu so not all dishes are available at all times. Additional dishes were provided for photos.
All photos by Susan Post