Designed with ‘flexitarians’ in mind, Plants and Grills puts plant-based options on an equal footing with meat on their menu, with a focus on fresh and healthy ingredients that are locally sourced where possible. Having recently opened in Oxford’s Westgate Social Street Food, you won’t find mock meats on the menu here, but vegan alternatives that allow well-cooked and seasoned veggies to shine. I was pleased to see that this also enables the restaurant to price all the plant-based options on the menu more affordably than their meatier counterparts (which sadly and perhaps somewhat surprisingly is often not the case). Almost everything is freshly made in house, and the menu is designed in such a way to encourage curious meat-eaters to give tasty vegan options a go. I was happy to be invited down to Plants and Grills to try some of their recommended dishes.
When the harissa aubergine wrap was placed in front of me, I thought it looked a little lacklustre, but on biting into it I was pleasantly surprised. Cooked aubergine in general can be a bit hit and miss but they got the texture spot on, with it melting in the mouth with each bite. The flavour combinations in the wrap really worked, with smokey harissa and sweet mango chutney complimenting each other well. The cucumber salad was packed with herbs but they didn’t overpower the wrap. Perhaps a couple of extra pieces of aubergine wouldn’t go amiss for those of us with a healthy appetite, but overall the ratio of soft, fresh flatbread to filling worked well. Perhaps a word of warning, there wasn’t really a polite way to eat this! You’re just going to have to fold it in half and embrace the sauces going everywhere.
Onto the next dish, and anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I’ll avoid ordering a salad at all costs, so I’m even surprising myself here in saying that here is a salad that I’d happily order again and pay for. As a speedy meal on my lunch break away from the office, this is exactly what I needed. Admittedly, if I was eating this alone, I’d probably order a portion of sweet potato wedges to go with it, because I’m greedy like that, but this bowl of veggies was satisfying like no other salad I’ve had when dining out. The dish was full of different textures, from fresh crisp lettuce leaves (no soggy greens here), a hefty portion of creamy avocado, and deliciously crunchy chickpeas. The chickpeas were smokey and had a decent heat to them, almost like spicy bacon pieces. They were generous with the tarragon mayo too, so when mixed together, the salad was packed with flavour.
The team behind Plants and Grills are using the Westgate Social site to test out and perfect their concept, before developing their plans to expand outside the shopping centre in Oxford and further afield. I think something like this was much needed in the Westgate Street Food Social space, as a vegan-friendly quick and fresh lunch option, quite in contrast to the other vendors that remain there. I do have to question their sustainability credentials when they’re offering a steak sandwich on the menu, but they still cater well for vegans and I’m sure will encourage others to take a second look at plant-based foods too. I’m looking forward to going back and tasting the other couple of vegan options on the menu, which look as delicious as the dishes I’ve already tried!
If you’d like to try Plants and Grills yourself, they’re offering a 15% discount throughout November 2021 for readers of this blog. Just give the code ‘plantsandgrills15’ when placing your order, and don’t forget to let them know it was me who sent you!
This was a PR invite to Plants and Grills and a complimentary meal; this review is my honest opinion of the experience.