Planta Cocina (Toronto)

You better enjoy tortilla chips if you’re eating at Planta Cocina as half of their appetizers are served with the crunchy side. Practice makes perfection as the chips are great: thin, crispy, and not overly oily.

Plenty are found in the fully loaded nachos ($17.95) arriving in a tin and poured out table side. For something that’s described as “fully loaded”, the chips were rather bare - I couldn’t find much of the queso crema, avocado crème, black beans, or pico de gallo – let alone the pulled barbeque jackfruit that seemed more like sauce than a protein.

The five-layer dip ($11.95) was equally underwhelming, served in an angular bowl so the layers were non-existent. The kitchen tried to top it with additional ingredients such as chopped olives, which were a start but not nearly a substantial layer. Even a bit more refried pinto beans would have been nice, the spoon-sized amount at the bottom of the bowl was hardly enough.

Get the queso fundido ($16.25) instead as the piping hot cashew cheese dip is gooey, packed with spinach, and absolutely delicious. The Chile de Arbol salsa and cilantro gives the queso a slightly spicy and fresh element, to balance out the otherwise hearty starter. And if the dip isn’t flavourful enough, the side of spicy adobo sauce adds another level of rich spiciness.

For a vegan restaurant, I’m surprised with the lack of salad on the menu… the lettuce shortage must be real. There was the Cocina Caesar ($15.25) a bowl of well-dressed romaine adorned with smoky mushroom bacon and black beans. One small change would be to stick with a traditional vegan parmesan instead of the almond cotija, which I found too sticky on the already wet salad.

The special for the evening was a coctel verde ceviche ($14) made with cucumber and other greens. Strangely, it was just so sweet, making the dish taste more like a fruit salad than ceviche. Adding a splash of adobo sauce gave the dish some spice, but that tangy citrus element was still missing.

I liked where Planta was going with the vegetarian Baja mushroom taco ($6.25), but the slice of king mushroom must be thicker to replace a meaty protein like fish. Currently, it tastes like you’re eating a fried batter taco rather than mushroom. With so little fungi, the taco could have benefited from a slaw to fill out the shell; something to give the pico de gallo, cilantro, and sauces a bit more interest.

The quesabirria ($15.25 for two) combines cashew mozzarella with cremini and oyster mushrooms to create a soft gooey mixture that’s tasty but challenging to dip into the mushroom consommé. In this case, there was enough fungi, but I would have preferred if they were left in larger strips to make it easier to dip and add a meatier texture. The consommé could also benefit from more seasoning.

At least the service at Planta Cocina was impeccable. Carley, our server, was a bright ray of sunshine and had me wanting to try more of their cocktails (all $15.50). The easiest drinking was probably the Casa (pa)loma, which looks prettier than it tastes as we all found it too watery.

While the Mezcal Me Maybe sounds like a tropical drink made with passionfruit and lime, the combination of bitters and ginger liqueur gives it a smoky cigar like finish. If you like an Old Fashion, this is worth a try.

Of the three, I enjoyed the Classic Margarita the most, simply made with tequila, Cointreau and their house made sour blend. I must admit, their freshly made mixer does create a tastier and more refreshing margarita.

Of all the Planta restaurants, for me, Cocina’s offering is the weakest of the franchise. I would have expected more fresh ingredients, excitement, and flavour for a Mexican restaurant. As it stands, just a queso and margarita maybe. 

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 10 Temperance Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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