Written by Amelia Jeffers
Photos Courtesy Gina Fontana | Healthy Little Vittles
For those who consider dining a sport, there’s a new game in town, and it features an all-star lineup of ingredients, ambiance and mission meant to nourish the community in body, mind and spirit. Appropriately located on Lane Avenue, just two short miles from the home of one of the best college football teams in the country, SŌW Plated has stormed the illustrious central Ohio restaurant field and has undisputedly taken the lead in the category of fresh, clean food paired with vibrant atmosphere.
The name SŌW is an acronym for the three pillars of the brand identity: sustainable, organic and wellness. Launched by self-professed neophyte restaurateurs Sunny and John Fahlgren of the legendary advertising firm Fahlgren Martine, SŌW Plated has been a labor of love. Inspired by several health-centric restaurants while on a trip to the west coast, the Fahlgrens have endeavored to create not only a menu that appeals to vegans and carnivores alike but to raise the bar on educating their audience in how food is labeled, sourced and produced while setting a tone that is supremely community-minded. In one recent month at SŌW Plated, guests had a choice between grabbing healthy and tasty bites and cocktails at happy hour, attending a yoga session on Saturday morning and spending a morning engaged in expert discourse on the latest in sustainable agriculture. With such an ambitious lineup of offerings and innovation, one could expect a few growing pains or hiccups in the early days, but, in this now regular’s experience, I have only come to expect delicious food at a more than fair price in a relaxed, bright and happy setting.
My diet is often driven by what is on the menu, and I love a skillfully prepared vegan meal as much as (maybe more than) a well-aged steak. At SŌW Plated, I can feed the food mood of the day – and that is just how the Fahlgrens planned it. Easily one of my favorite items on the menu is the Breads and Spreads appetizer with lightly charred toast and pita served up with kale guacamole, hummus, and the star of the plate: a cashew pimento cheese. SŌW Crudites is the most vibrant assortment of chilled farm-fresh veggies with cool cucumber herb dip, while Blistered Shishitos bring a bit of heat for the more adventurous. Rounding out the starter menu are delectable Roasted Brussels and Miso Glazed Bok Choy.
The salad and sandwich lineup is noteworthy. Beautiful, artisanal greens are adorned with various combinations like butternut squash and mulberries with champagne vinaigrette in the Chopped; fig, walnut, squash and goat cheese in the Harvest; and quinoa and truffled almond ricotta in the Roasted Beets. The decidedly vegetable-focus is contrasted by several key offerings for meat-eaters, particularly the Wagyu Burger, a melt-in-your-mouth local wagyu beef with smoked gouda, dijon microgreens and garlic umami aioli served with your choice of tricolor chips or tasty, lightly dressed greens. A chief complaint with largely vegetarian menus is the overuse of soy protein, but with the exception of a few dishes, SŌW has largely avoided it. Artfully-prepared in a chorizo spice, the soy Tacos are hearty and satisfying with avocado, sweet potato, pickled red onions, marinated cabbage and cotija cheese served with a southewestern edamame salad.
Having tried every single dish on the dinner menu, I can’t think of one I would not recommend. The vegan Pesto Pasta is definitely a must-have with its rich blend of almond truffle ricotta, seasonal vegetables and pumpkin seed pesto. The Organic Chicken with roasted root crop, fig and cranberry compote, asparagus and herb stuffing is comfort food at its finest. For those in the mood for a succulent serving, wagyu makes another appearance in the Wagyu Short Rib with celery root and parsnip puree, garlic roasted chard and red wine jus. The Scottish Salmon soothes the savory craving with braised swiss chard, chablis, grilled broccolini and olive puttanesca.
The bowls menu offers an assortment of options, from a spicy curried Pad Thai with choice of chicken or marinated tofu in rice noodles with bok choy, carrot and cashews to the Southwestern styled ancient grains with butternut squash, garbanzo beans, corn and poblano cream. From the so-good-I’ve-ordered-it-twice list is the Mediterranean bowl, with chewy and filling ancient grains and kalamata olives, roasted vegetables, fresh mint and pesto.
The not-to-be-missed dessert menu loops in fan-favorites for the chocolate connoisseur: Buckeyes, a crave-worthy blend of peanut and almond butters with dark chocolate, and Cacao Cake a la Mode, a decadent flourless dark chocolate confection with salted caramel and cacao nibs. The Yuzu Pie is an adventurous and heavenly citrus pie (think key lime with a twist) and is topped with an airy coconut milk whip and fresh organic berries, and the Spiced Cobbler features baked apples, pears, goji berries and an almond crumble with vegan ice cream that offers a virtually guilt-free option.
For all of the focus on food, SŌW Plated does not skimp on drink offerings. The juice selection is as sophisticated as most menus, with growlers available for many. The Beet Drop, with pineapple, lemon and apple rounding out the earthy flavor, is my top choice, but another popular selection is Th e Green House, a blend of celery, kale, apple, cucumbers and ginger. The Cold Pressed Cocktails menu, taking the fresh juices and putting on a refi ned spirituous spin, should be a focal point of any visit. The Cucumber includes Hendricks gin, hibiscus water, fresh lime and a darling cucumber ribbon. The Honeydew is made with Tito’s, Lillet Blanc, fresh basil and rhubarb bitters.
It’s rare for me to visit any single restaurant more than a few times each year, but I’m not ashamed to admit that SŌW Plated has already seated me with friends about once a week. As one of my favorite foodies said to me in a text after her visit (all caps included): “RUN, don’t walk to SOW plated. Seriously.”
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