Plant Power. Don't let the name deceive you.
The food is healthy, but it's good even to meat eaters like myself.
And unlike some plant-based, organic juice bars — where you pay $10 or more for a sandwich — Plant Power offers a whole plate that includes a filling sandwich, salad and a side for $7.95.
Good food. Good price. I'm sold.
Plant Power derived from Aurellia Alexandre's need to heal herself.
› Where: Plant Power Cafe & Juice Bar, 6215 Lee Highway, Suite 137
› Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, closed Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays
› Price range: $2.95 -$7.95
› Phone: 423-702-2233
She says 10 years ago, anxiety wracked her mind and body so badly that she spent many days a depressed and nervous wreck. She had dystonia so severely that she could barely turn her neck. Her body was so weak that she needed a wheelchair for mobility. Her doctors couldn't help her.
Then she started researching and learning about the healing effects of food. Her health returned gradually. She says she's still recovering, but she has regained control of stiff muscles and no longer needs a wheelchair. She attributes her recovery, in part, to changing her diet.
Her journey prompted her to combine that experience with her brother's knowledge of food to offer healthier food choices to the Chattanooga community. Her brother, Ron Lagramada, has been in the food industry for 20 years, he said.
Alexandre and Lagramada operate the Plant Power Cafe & Juice Bar, a vegan-, raw- and vegetarian-friendly eatery at 6215 Lee Highway, Suite F.
"We want to give out a healthy message," said Alexandre. "High blood pressure, diabetes, all of that can be reversed by eating a plant-based diet."
Super foods like avocado, kale, black beans and garlic fill the Plant Power vegetarian menu. The restaurant offers appetizers such as hummus and pita slices or burger sliders with lettuce, tomato and onions with banana ketchup. There's a garlic-knot roll served with spicy tomato relish and nachos with spicy cheese sauce and chili. All appetizers range in price from $2.95 (cup of chili with jalapeno cornbread) to $6.95 (nachos with spicy cheese sauce and chili).
All Plant Power salads sell for $6.95. They are all made with mixed greens.
The Powerhouse salad also includes carrots, red onions and cranberries. The Greek salad has tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, kalamata olives and pepperoncini. The avocado salad includes cranberries and almonds. The Tofu salad combines marinated tofu with mushrooms, carrots and tomatoes.
All sandwiches, burgers and wraps are $5.95; or add a salad and choice of side for the $7.95 plate. Sandwiches include the veggie hummus with mixed greens, hummus, avocado, carrots and cucumber. A veggie turkey wrap or sandwich comes with mixed greens, red onions, dried cranberries and creamy vinaigrette dressing. Then there's the spicy kale wrap that has marinated kale with onion, tomatoes and avocado.
Two of the most popular dishes at Power Plant are the portobello mushroom burger and the spicy black bean burger.
Raw zucchini bowls with parsley, walnut pesto or spicy lemon garlic sauce are available for $7.95. All cold-pressed juices and smoothies are $5.95 for 12 0unces or $7.95 for 16 ounces.
My choice was the portobello mushroom burger plate with potato-vegetable soup and an oatmeal raisin cookie for dessert.
It's always nice when you hit the jackpot on the first try. The food was so good. The presentation was nice, too: An open-face sandwich with Asian sauce spread on ciabatta bread, topped with tangy hot mushrooms. The other side of the sandwich was layered with crisp lettuce and red onions.
On the side of my glossy blue plate, I had a mix of deep green and purple lettuce with cherry tomatoes and red onions. There was so much lettuce I was worried I wasn't going to get full. I sometimes think of lettuce as rabbit food. But to my delight, my stomach moved toward satisfaction before I finished the sandwich.
A homemade vinaigrette tasted delicious over my salad. The potato soup was good, too. Chunks of potato floated in a broth that included green beans and carrots. It's not the bacon-topped, thick, creamy potato soup that I'm used to getting, but it wasn't bad.
And my thick, sweet, lightly salted oatmeal raisin cookie was a treat, too. It was moist and filling.
From the outside, Plant Power Cafe & Juice Bar looks like a slit in the wall of a large shopping complex, but inside it's the perfect size.
Seven large booths line pale yellow-painted walls. The walls showcase colorful canvases of bright tree paintings, wall hangings with words of inspiration such as "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and framed words of wisdom like "Friends who laugh together stay together."
A stage sits against one wall. The Plant Power's Facebook page shows that the cafe sometimes has live entertainment. One of at least five tables is used to promote Christian literature. And a Christian radio station plays upbeat music.
Service isn't bad, but it may take time. Alexandre is the cashier, host and waitress. Lagramada is the cook. They are a two-person operation, which works fine, but during the lunch hour one customer may have to wait while another customer's food is being prepared. It's not too bad. The payoff is good food that's good for you.
A customer places his order and pays for it at the counter, then sits until he hears a call that the food is ready. There may not be much interaction after that because Alexandre is getting orders from other customers. But after the crowd dies, she checks on remaining customers to make sure they are enjoying their lunch. I enjoyed mine.
Plant Power is on Lee Highway, not a lunch drive I'd normally take from my workplace in downtown Chattanooga. But it's worth it. The food is good. I got full with a lunch that came to about $10.50 — and that includes tax and dessert. Plant Power will be my place whenever I have time to get there. It was satisfying, good and well-priced.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.