What: One last hurrah in my favorite city
Where: Millennium Restaurant, San Francisco, Calif.
When: December 21, 2008
Why: To celebrate an incredible internship at VegNews
The Scoop: Since September, I’ve had the pleasure of spending my days at the VNHQ, learning the ins-and-outs of magazine publishing, vegetarianism, and the art of cooking for a large group of hungry co-workers. It’s been an amazing four months, and I’m still in denial about the fact that I’ll be hopping on a plane tomorrow morning, headed for the Midwest.
Abby and Bill at Millennium in San Francisco, Calif.
To start, we each ordered a small appetizer, our indecisiveness making it impossible to pick just one to share. Bill immediately singled out the Herb-Dusted Gold Potato Frittes with smoked ketchup, and I pretended to be healthy and chose the Seared Brussels Sprouts.
I initially scoffed at the idea of ordering fries at such an upscale restaurant. You can get fries anywhere, right? Then I took a bite, and happily ate my words (and quite a few fries). Thick-cut potatoes, sprinkled with sea salt and a tasty blend of seasonings, were made even better with a quick dip in sweet and tangy ketchup. I quickly apologized for doubting Bill’s gastronomical judgment.
The Brussels sprouts were nothing to scoff at either, and were devoured—mostly by me—in minutes. Seared, seasoned, then served with smoky tofu and olives, these little guys were delicious. I don’t think either one of us thought such a notorious vegetable could taste so good.
Brussels sprouts and fries—this versatility is one reason I’m so impressed with Millennium. On one hand, they take something “accidentally vegan” and lowbrow like fries and transform them into a gourmet appetizer. They also tackle stereotypical vegan fare, like Brussels sprouts, that most of the nation considers bland and boring. That is, until Eric Tucker turns those little cabbage look-a-likes into culinary gold.
The appetizers were finished with gusto, and I started to worry that we had ordered too much. My stomach was filling up and we hadn’t even made it to the main course! Alas, when you’re at Millennium, you always find room.
The meal was in full swing as the entrées came out. Bill had the Winter Spice Tamale, a tasty Mexican tribute stuffed with pumpkin and pinto beans, and served with chocolate-almond molé sauce, fresh avocado, and sautéed greens. I ordered the Cornmeal-Crusted Portobello Mushroom, served with a fresh side salad of marinated greens, carrot, thinly sliced onion, and mandarin wedges. Slices of flavorful Portobello had the perfect level of crisp on the outside while still being tender on the inside. I had no problem sending back a clean plate.
At this point in the evening, we’re finished—tapping out, throwing in the towel, surrendering to the gods of good food. We were ready to ask for the check when our waiter returned, asking “Would you like to see a dessert menu?”
“Yes, please,” we responded without hesitation. Oh, come on! You can’t leave without dessert.
To jolt us from our imminent food-induced sleep while we waited, we sipped organic, fair-trade coffee with soy creamer and a sprinkle of sugar. Our sweet treat arrived to seal the deal—the German Chocolate Torte, complete with classic coconut icing and a sweet scoop of chocolate ice cream. Paired with the full-bodied coffee, it was an ideal ending to a phenomenal meal.
One seriously delectable dessert, courtesy of Millennium
The dessert quickly disappeared along with our coffee, leaving not one centimeter of empty space in our stomachs. Ashamed of the gluttony but in awe of the experience, we left giddy and grinning.
It was a bittersweet walk to the Muni stop, as I realized this would be the last time—for now—that I would be in downtown San Francisco. As if to cheer me up, my favorite street performer happened to be at the corner of Geary and Powell, beating an infectious rhythm on his makeshift drum kit of plastic buckets and five-gallon jugs. We danced a little at the stoplight before catching our train home, and I said a silent goodbye to the city.