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The Dish: Plate serves up a light variety

Pictured is the kale salad at Plate in Malibu, which features kale, dried cranberries, apples, walnuts and tomatoes, topped with an orange vinaigrette and crostini. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the stir fry at Plate in Malibu, which features brown rice and an assortment of fresh vegetables and mushrooms topped with a teriyaki sauce. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the weiner schnitzel at Plate in Malibu, which features chicken fried in rice bran oil and served with a lingonberry sauce and your choice of sides. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
2:11 pm PDT March 17, 2014

From the fare to the lighting to the wooden and pastel décor, Plate exudes an essence of lightness. 

“It’s not exactly fine dining, but it’s comfortable, with a warm touch,” Plate’s guest relations manager Kat Hakim said. “It’s true to Malibu’s essence.”

That was precisely what ex-owner Charlie Temmel and head chef Victor Rosales had in mind when they and several others from the Santa Monica restaurant Schatzi On Main, migrated over to Malibu to open an organic eatery that focused on good ingredients and good cooking in 2008. 

“Five years out — we’re still here and we’re still doing great,” Hakim said. “It’s largely due to our clientele.”

Located on a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in eastern Malibu that has proven to be tough terrain for upstart restaurants, Plate’s five-year anniversary speaks to their connection to the preferences of the locals. The lightness of the establishment mirrors the lightness of its location. 

“At the time [2008], Plate was very ahead of its time because we were focused on organic ingredients,” Hakim said. “And even now, all of these organic restaurants have small menus. Our menu is, and always has been, large with a little bit of everything to choose from.”

Plate’s kale salad, a Malibu staple, encapsulates much of what the restaurant stands for and what the locals love about it. 

The dish starts with a hearty serving of raw kale paired with sprinklings of dried cranberries, walnuts, apples and tomatoes. A touch of orange zest vinaigrette and a garnish of Plate’s lightly toasted, handmade crostini finishes off the salad. Customers seeking something slightly heavier can request chicken or shrimp as an addition to the dish. 

Intermittent bursts of sweetness from the vinaigrette, balanced with the tart bite from the apples and cranberries bring Plate’s essence of lightness to the dark roughage of the kale. 

But, Plate’s uniqueness lies in chef Rosales’ ability to make light of anything on the menu, even the traditional Austrian deep-fried wiener schnitzel plate that the restaurant serves as an homage to Temmel’s home country.

Rosales uses rice bran oil, which has a particularly high melting point so the molecular structure doesn’t change as it goes through the body, making it much easier to digest and less fatty. 

“The salads are always popular,” Hakim said. “But Plate isn’t Plate without the other stuff.”

The Plate staff extends their light touch to their customers as well, making the food, as well as the service, features that keep their locals hungry for more.

“We know at least 400 of our locals by first name,” Hakim said. “If you come back a second time, we won’t forget your name.”    

Other dishes not to miss...

• Stir fry — This dish features brown rice and an assortment of fresh vegetables and mushrooms topped with a teriyaki sauce.

• Weiner Schnitzel — This traditional Austrian dish features chicken fried in rice bran oil and served with a lingonberry sauce and your choice of sides.