Fresh Corn and Morel Tamale, Corn and Potato Chowder, Whiskey-Chocolate Tiramisu
Occupation: Graduate Psychologist
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Millennium
Reviewed Millennium: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Millennium is the vegan answer to such luminary restaurants as Gary Danko and Chez Panisse. It’s situated in the eclectic and bustling Tenderloin, inside the Hotel California, a stone’s throw from the Curran Theater and Union Square. The interior is classic and charming, with just the right amount of liveliness to compliment the evening.
Millennium’s entire menu is vegan, but they’re not about making “fake meats” or simulating non-vegetarian dishes. Millennium is about using the freshest, best ingredients to make delicious, mouth-watering food that will have you savoring every single bite and asking, “How do they do that?!” It just happens to be that it does it all while being vegan.
For dinner I started with the Cornmeal-Chickpea Crusted Oyster Mushrooms. The mushrooms were firm and full of flavor, with a crisp crust and sweet apricot chutney. They are positively a must every time you go. The Black Bean Torte is rich and decadent. Chef Eric Tucker perfectly combines the smokiness of the black beans and the spiciness of the pumpkin-habañero salsa verder with the cool sour cream. I couldn’t resist sampling the Za’atar and Garlic Spiced Hand-Cut Frites. The potatoes are dusted just right with the bold za’atar and the aioli really complimented the dish.
For entrée I had the Maple-Glazed Smoked Tempeh. I’ve been to Millennium many times, and if there’s one dish that Chef Tucker seems to really specialize in, it’s tempeh. His tempeh is always tender and succulent, and never grainy. I don’t know how he makes it so tender! The tempeh will positively melt in your mouth as you savor its complex flavors. Make sure you get some tempeh, some of the spring garlic-horseradish mashed potatoes, and some of the grilled asparagus and spring onions on the plate in each and every forkful you take. My dinner partner had the Cumin-Scented Picadillo-Stuffed Artichoke, and I don’t know that I’ve ever tasted a more delicate artichoke. The spiced seitan sausage added a great hearty component to the dish and the polenta rounded out a really terrific entrée.
You’ll never believe that their desserts are vegan. Pastry Chef Anne Baptiste is brilliant. The Chocolate Almond Midnight will positively have you licking the plate clean. The Whiskey Chocolate Tiramisu was to die for. Their version is more solid than a typical tiramisu, but the richness was really complemented by the light chocolate stout ice cream, which had some coconut shining through. I could easily have sampled the entire dessert menu. Actually, I could have easily sampled the entire dinner menu as well!
Millennium infuses their liquors in house. So you’re getting those great fresh fruits and flavors all over again in their cocktails. There’s an extensive cocktail list that is definitely worth sampling, as well as a long list of outstanding beers, but I love their wine list, which contains only wines that are either made from organically grown grapes, biodynamic production methods, or from grapes grown sustainably.
The service was great. Our server knew the menu well, and not only suggested some great dishes, but spoke knowledgably about ingredients and preparation. The food’s delivery was well timed, with just enough time in between appetizers and entrées for us to enjoy ourselves. The server also recommended a wine based upon my specifications that turned out to be absolutely perfect. Although she didn’t open the wine with proper wine service, she judiciously refilled our glasses when necessary.
Millennium is an outstanding restaurant that is committed to being a healthy, friendly, and contributing member of their community. It’s a great restaurant for an intimate dinner with a guest or for a large group of family and friends. It’s a place that I’ll keep coming to over and over again. Finally, a restaurant that’s demonstrated that vegetables don’t have to be the side or afterthought of a dish; that they can be the bold, flavorful, and magnificent main attraction to a memorable epicurean experience.
Occupation: Police Officer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Medjool
Reviewed Millennium: Friday June 8, 2007
When I was told Millennium was to be one of the restaurants to be reviewed, I thought to myself, “Gee, that name sounds familiar,” but I just couldn’t place it. I knew the location to have been a French restaurant in the past, but was drawing a blank on the restaurant now. Yeah, I coulda researched it, but that takes away all the fun. Besides, because I hadn’t read my Check, Please!paperwork close enough, I didn’t have time to do any research.
So here it was Friday, and I’m looking through my Check, Please! paperwork and I see the due date, Monday. Oh, great! (Okay, that’s not what I really said, but what was said isn’t fit for print.) I called my wife, Angela, in a panic and told her of my situation, and that we were eating out tonight (didn’t have to twist her arm for that). I called Millennium praying for an opening for a reservation. The only openings were at 5:45 and 9:15. Angela wouldn’t be home until 6:30 at the earliest, so 9:15 it is (and I have to be up at 6:00 a.m. for work the next day, oh, fun.)
Angela manages a trip to the gym before dinner, so when we arrive at 9:00, she’s really hungry and craving protein. We check in with the hostess and sit down with a menu while we wait for our table. After a few minutes, Angela looks at me with a none too pleased look, and says, “There’s no meat or fish on the menu.” Now I remember, Millennium is that vegan restaurant that used to be on McAllister. I had always wanted to try it, but not under these circumstances. I order Angela a glass of Champagne to ease the pain.
When we got seated, I noticed the staff to be very professional and polite. The dining room was warm and well decorated and surrounded an inviting bar area. We started our meal with a split of a Bordeaux (the name of which I can’t recall; it was the only one on the wine list) that was very good. The bread on the table was tasty, but the green lentil puree that was served with it was killer. Then we ordered our food. We both ordered the corn and potato chowder. Angela also ordered the za’atar and garlic-spiced frites, and I ordered the pickled vegetables and the roasted beets. For entrees, she ordered the fresh corn and morel tamale, and I ordered the almond-crusted portobello mushroom.
When the soup arrived, Angela seemed much more relaxed (not sure if it was the wine or the arrival of food). The soup was fantastic. The combination of the sweet corn, the chunks of potato, and the seasoned olive oil really worked. We both had to add a little salt, but we much prefer that over it being too salty. I told Angela that a big bowl of the chowder with the bread and puree would have done just fine for dinner for me. But I knew more was on its way. The pickled vegetables and the roasted beets arrived followed shortly by the frites. I think because of my Pennsylvania upbringing (where they pickle all kinds of stuff) I have a weakness for pickled anything. The vegetables were, well, lightly pickled. The pickling had not overpowered the natural flavors of the vegetables, and while softer, they still had some crunch. The roasted beets (beets, another PA weakness) were really tasty. They were served with crushed hazelnuts that added texture and a nice flavor.
But those frites, those lovely garlicky, just-so seasoned frites. They were amazing. Nice thick-cut potatoes that were cooked all the way through in that delicate balance of soft but not dry, and a nice crispy exterior. I’m supposed to stay away from the fried stuff, but I’m only human. Please don’t tell my cardiologist.
By the time the entrees arrived, I was almost full and Angela’s beautiful smile was back in full force. My portobellos were like succulent pieces of filet mignon, lightly pan-fried with a nice little crispness on the outside. They sat on a pile of earthy tasting barley couscous and were accompanied by some roasted carrots that were sweet and had a subtle hint of cinnamon. Angela’s tamale was moist and flavorful (there was that sweet corn again), and somehow managed to avoid being doughy like so many other tamales. It was served with a black bean ragu, salsa verde, and an heirloom tomato relish that really worked. Everything complemented each other, and I found Angela stacking her fork for that perfect bite.
Unfortunately, when we finished our entrees, we were done. No room for dessert. Angela did have a glass of port to finish off the meal, but that was it. All in all, it was a great experience. A warm and friendly, but still professional, staff served up appropriate portions of great tasting, mostly healthy food in a more upscale environment. Would we return? In a minute, just keep those frites on the menu.
Occupation: Motor Clothing Buyer
Favorite Restaurant: Tropix
Reviewed Millennium: Thursday, June 7, 2007
This was one of the most over priced vegetarian restaurants I’ve been to in my entire life and not worth the flavor. My husband, baby, and I visited on a weekday and the service was terrible! The food had absolutely no taste whatsoever. I made reservations early and we were there waiting for our meal forever. We spent a lot of money for tiny little flavorless portions that were not worthy of a trip to San Francisco. We ordered the three-course special, with my husband ordering the second main entrée so both of us could try it. It was disgusting. No flavor, and small portions. Usually with small portions there is so much flavor that you don’t want to over do it, but this case it was small portions because it was so boring that you couldn’t eat a bigger portion. It will be a “Millennium” before we go back!
Quality of food…TERRIBLE
Décor and atmosphere…DUST AND COBWEBS ON THE DRAPERY!!!!!!!
Bang for buck…TERRIBLE!!!!
Wine service …TERRIBLE…I PAID $22.00 FOR BASICALLY A GLASS OF WINE!!!!!
Noise level…GOOD….THEY DON’T LIKE KID’S SO THEY PUT US IN THE BACK BY THE RESTROOMS……BUT OUR KID IS AWESOME AND NEVER CRIES!!!!!!!
Wait for table….TERRIBLE…THE MENU WAS NOT EVEN READY FOR THE DAY!!!!!!!!
Food arrival speed…..TERRIBLE…I WAS CRAWLING UP MY SEAT TO GET OUT!!!!!! PEOPLE WERE EATING BEFORE WE WERE…..AND, WE WERE THE FIRST PEOPLE THERE!!!!!!!