Vegans weary of being hypervigilant when they eat out have a new — albeit fleeting — dining option in Suffolk County.
Multicourse, $40 pop-up dinners organized by Plated Plants, a 2-month-old business owned by Alison Roe and Christina Garcia, have so far taken over three South Shore restaurants, with at least three more meals planned this fall: a Sept. 16 brunch at East Patchogue’s South Country Tavern, a dinner at The Bellport Restaurant and a wine-and-cheese event at Patchogue’s Bella Vino pairing plant-based cheeses and vegan wines. (Dates for the last two events are still to be determined).
“On the South Shore, there’s really not that much [for vegans],” said Roe, an elementary school teacher who has been a plant-based eater for 2 1⁄2 years, and a vegan since January. “[Plated Plants] gives the restaurant new clientele, and vegans a safe option to go out and eat and not have to ask, ‘What is this made of?’ ”
The business grew out of a dinner Roe had in the spring at Toro Tapas and Tequila in Patchogue, where she found then-chef Radu Grigore “very accommodating” to her dietary requests. Soon after, she approached Grigore with an idea: Would he be interested in putting together a menu for a vegan pop-up dinner?
Grigore was game. Garcia, a vegan baker who owns the business CompassionEats, would provide the desserts, and Roe and Garcia sold $40 tickets via Eventbrite.
The crowd of 28 that June night was a mix of vegans and omnivores, and everyone dined on vegetable paella, asparagus with passion fruit sauce, arugula salad with pear and pine nuts, gazpacho and various sides — as well as Garcia’s vegan flan.
Two more dinners followed, one at Bellport’s Cafe Costello in July and another at South Country Tavern, where chef Lois Piro made her own vegan cheeses — including a butternut squash and cashew cheese for a grilled “cheese” sandwich — as well as fried cauliflower and waffles with a maple-balsamic glaze. (Garcia baked apple pie and chocolate chip cookies to augment the comfort-food theme).
“It’s been both surprising and exciting,” said Garcia about Plated Plants’ early success. “It shows that even people who aren’t vegans are willing to try new things.”