Atmosphere: 4/5 ♦ Service: 3/5 ♦ Food Quality: 5/5 ♦ Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One ♦ Will I Return?: Pretty please?
Don’t you just love San Francisco? I sure do. It’s not in every bum town you find a vegetarian restaurant that offers the finest of fine dining. The Bay Area has such a variety of people and such a diversity of interests and specialties that the very best of everything is corralled right into the seven- by seven-mile area that is San Francisco. And it’s absolutely fabulous for those of us living on the fringes.
Millennium offers the best of the best for vegetarian food and even has a writer at the San Francisco Magazine quoted describing their menu as being able to, “intrigue even the most devoted carnivores among us”. Indeed, I challenge any carnivore with an open palette to make a reservation at Millennium. It is so amazingly good.
This renowned restaurant is actually tucked away into the lobby of a Best Western of sorts, just near Union Square. It’s a bit of an odd situation, but nothing seems the worse for it. The dining area is dim and sophisticated (think dark wood and marble tiled floors) and the room appears to be continuously filled to the brim with ball gowns, Armani ties, ripped jeans, lip rings and everything in between. The atmosphere is at once chic and grunge; it’s amazing.
Looking down on one side of the dining room and the central bar from the hotel lobby balcony.
When you look at the menu you’ll see why: the fabulously creative, new-age dishes wholly exclude any animal products, perhaps drawing the square-rimmed glasses and full-arm tattoos, while the $25/plate price tag draws the open-minded sophisticates. The juxtaposition makes for a fabulously comfortable and positively humming atmosphere any night of the week.
So, the atmosphere is unique and decidedly rad. The menu? The same. I’ll be honest and say that my one problem with the menu is that it was hard for me — an ordinary food lover and unabashed* chain-restaurant goer — to discern exactly what most of the dished actually were. The ingredients are listed and, though some of those were a mystery as well, the descriptions often failed to let me know how these items were going to actually appear on my plate.
My dinner: Squash Raw-violi - Raw squash slices with all kinds of veggies and other stuff in the middle (similar to the construction of ravioli) and on top. Fabulous.
For example, regarding the description of the Yuba Roulade, I wasn’t getting a great mental picture of what my plate was actually going to look like: “seared shiitake mushroom, wilted winter greens & Char siu style seitan filling, edamame-horseradish mashed potatoes, seared Brussels sprouts with black bean-ginger oil, star anise-shallot-red wine reduction”. What I did find after sampling four dishes (mine and my friends’) is that the descriptions absolutely don’t matter. You could close your eyes and just pick something and it would be incredible.
Appetizers: Beet salad and fried something or other... both great.
Pasta with Tempeh something or other. So. Damn. Good.
To be perfectly honest, I ate there a couple months ago and didn’t write down each dish we ordered. And because they change their menu constantly (fresh, fresh, fresh!), most of these items aren’t on the website. In my personal opinion, however, this is trivial as everything was so ridiculously fabulous. Overusing adjectives is required.
This one is the Maple Roasted Winter Squash: hazelnut-farro risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, baby artichokes & gigante beans, Formanova beet & red wine reduction, braised fennel & treviso salad.
Recommendation: Make a reservation no matter what day you intend to go. They are booked all the time; this place is no secret!
Even vegetarians don't skimp on dessert: Chocolate Almond Midnight - Almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce, white chocolate mousse.
*Fine, maybe I’m mildly ashamed.