A ‘plate’ full of delicious at Plates Restaurant

Sara Drawwater
31 January 2011
Our restaurant and menu is modern with a rustic touch. We are elegant, sophisticated and romantic.

With the exciting launch of the up-market Plates Restaurant and Wine Bar in December 2010 we decided to interview the team behind this magnificent approach to food in Zambia. Here is Plates owner, Rachel O’Donnell’s take on things.

How would you describe Plates Restaurant and Wine Bar?Our restaurant and menu is modern with a rustic touch. We are elegant, sophisticated and romantic.

What is the inspiration behind Plates restaurant?As well as spotting a gap in the Lusaka restaurant market for a chef-driven concept with wine offerings, we were inspired to pair some of our favorite wines with ingredients that are fresh and locally available in Lusaka. We buy the highest quality meat, fish, and produce daily and serve it fresh without the need for freezing. With our small but varied menu, we can ensure that every ingredient is seasonally available and at its most flavourful every day.

Where does the inspiration for your recipes come from?Three simple but powerful things began as inspiration and have become our ethos — the freshest seasonal ingredients, elegant cuisine and international wines.

Tell us about your chefs at PlatesOur Head Chef, PJ, trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has fine-dining experience from a 5 Star-5 Diamond restaurant in America. He is also an accredited sommelier. His dedication to wholesome, farm-to-table cuisine suits the produce and ingredients readily available in Lusaka. Under PJ’s leadership and training our chefs make everything in-house — from our cheese to our pastas, stocks to desserts.

How often do you change your menus and why?We change menus each and every month! Each month PJ crafts a lunch and dinner menu that reflects what our suppliers are harvesting and what suits the season. This ensures 100% fresh food, something we are very passionate about. We are lucky to have so many organic ingredients available on our menu, and to support several small farmers who grow fantastic vegetables for us.

How important is the selection of wine with your food and why?Dining out is not just about food, but an entire experience including ambience and beverages. We aim to offer a complete dining experience for guests that is delicious and enjoyable. Our international wine selection is a distinguishing feature of Plates and it’s so important that we offer 16 wines by the glass, ranging from K20,000 to K80,000. Our comprehensive wine list features wines from South America, Europe, USA and South Africa. This allows guests to pair each course with the wine of their choice or to simply try something new with their meal. If you are unsure what to choose then we’ll advise what suits your meal and share what wines you may enjoy based on your wine likes and dislikes. Each month we rotate the wines available by the glass to better suit our food menus. We hold a larger selection of wines in our cellar for patrons interested in purchasing a bottle with their meal.

What kind of people would enjoy dining at your restaurant?Our sophisticated atmosphere, rich ambience and menu caters well to business professionals, romantic couples and social groups. We offer ‘plates to share’ which are social appetisers intended to be tasted tapas-style. ‘Small plates’ are great appetisers and ‘large plates’ are full-size entrees. Finally, our ‘sweet plates’ are our fantastic home-made desserts.

What does the February menu have in store for diners?Coming up on our February menu is a new steak option — Brazilian style rump steak with caramelized onions, a summer pasta — linguini with rocket, lemon, and anchovies, as well our veggie tempura shared plate and summer herb salad. Our favorite spring lamb Bolognese is staying on the menu for another month, as is our scrumptious chocolate tart.

So there you have it — a little bit of background into the Plate’s concept! Why not take yourselves down to Plates Restaurant and Wine Bar in Arcades, Acacia Park to experience this dining experience for yourself. You can find out more and book here, phone+260 (0) 211 841 015 or email rhodonnell@plateszambia.com