Matthew Kenney Opens Asian-Inspired Pop-Up, Arata in Belfast, Maine
I’m no vegan (or even a vegetarian, for that matter), but given my extensive carnivorous cutbacks, there are now few things I appreciate more than well executed, filling, and tasty plant-based meal. Miami has been a bit behind in the raw food realm but was finally nationally pillared with the arrival of Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food & Wine and Culinary Academy in Wynwood (adjacent to conscious wellness hub, The Sacred Space Miami, no less). As a Kenney newbie, I visited the restaurant on a dinner date and was floored by the team’s ability to manipulate flavors and textures: We gobbled up kelp-based Cacio e Pepe, watermelon poke, and hearts of palm. A delightfully tart and creamy strawberry hibiscus “cheesecake” with lime curd, vanilla shortbread, pistachio, and sorrel sealed our satisfactions. The interior design was equally impressive: A contemporary dining room with mirrored wall panels and wood beamed ceilings opened up to fountained courtyard.
Kenney’s concepts show no sign of slowing down: Before landing in Miami, Kenney opened a pizza parlor in New York City. During Memorial Day Weekend 2016, he’ll head home to open Arata in Belfast, Maine. The Asian-inspired pop-up sprouts on May 27, 2016, through late October 2016. Housed inside “The Gothic,” an experimental culinary incubator, the menu will don mushroom ramen bowls, oyster buns, and kimchi pancakes: The meals and cocktails all muse on seasonal summer ingredients. “Each of our restaurants has a unique style but there are similarities in signature dishes, emphasis on innovation, and the artistry of our plant-based cuisine thanks to the creative oversight of Director of Culinary Operations, Chef Scott Winegard,” explained Kenney. “Yet each restaurant has its own personality—Scott immerses himself in the local markets to source the best local produce of each different climate and culture.”
“I’m thrilled that the next project aimed at crafting the future of food is taking place in my home state of Maine,” said Kenney. “With Arata, we will be giving our talented team the space to test new ideas, experiment and continuously innovate within the category. I’m excited to share a delicious, healthy menu with the Maine community, and continue to prove that plant-based cuisine truly knows no bounds.”