Thursday, November 24, 2011

Millennium Restaurant, San Francisco - Thanksgiving

Two years ago, Zach and I decided that we wanted to eat at Millennium for Thanksgiving, the premier upscale vegan restaurant in San Francisco, but no dice -- we couldn't get a reservation within a few weeks of Thanksgiving. So, this year, we thought ahead and booked reservations many weeks out. Today was our first Thanksgiving at Millennium and it certainly won't be our last.

We made reservations for 2:30 p.m., which was 30 minutes after the restaurant opened. We actually arrived around 2:10 p.m. though thinking they'd be able to seat us early. When we walked into the hotel lobby where the hostess desk is, the place was packed full of people waiting to be seated. We were informed that we would have to wait to be seated until our actual reservation time at 2:30 p.m.  So to pass the time, we went to say "hi" to Ann Wheat, one of Millennium's owners, and her husband, Larry. She graciously invited us to sit down with them and told us about the Got the Facts on Milk? documentary. She said it was a great documentary that even featured her in a 1-minute interview. I can't wait to watch it!

At 2:30 p.m., we were promptly seated. The menu had not been posted beforehand so we had no idea what would be on the it and were eager to see it. It was a 5-course meal, but not completely prix fixe. We had two choices to make -- which entree we'd like and which dessert we'd like. Besides that, the other three dishes were part of the fixed menu.  We had brought our own wine -- a 2004 Williamson Wines' Cuvee, which paired well with the dishes.

The first course was a cornucopia medley with house-made walnut and corn breads along with Artisan Bakers' Sonoma Sour Country bread and carmelized onion-pumpkin butter. Oh my goodness - this pumpkin butter was to die for. The carmelized onion added this amazing flavor to the pumpkin butter that complemented all of the breads nicely. The breads were perfect both in their denseness and moistness. We were also served a plate of roasted chestnuts; French lentil-kale salad; pickled carrot, Daikon radish, and red peppers; and truffled popcorn. I couldn't say enough about how amazing each of these little tastes were! Each one was its own perfect little work of art in terms of the balance of flavor and texture.

The second course was a salad of spinach, frisee, and radicchio topped with apple, fennel, and shaved radish along with an apple cider-miso vinaigrette. I absolutely loved the vinaigrette, but thought there should have been more of it on this salad. There were a few parts of the salad that were dry and just needed a little more dressing.

The third course was the Three Sisters Soup, which was actually a pozole, a Mexican stew. The stew had maize, a type of corn; butternut squash; and heirloom beans all in a an oregano and cumin-scented broth with pumpkin seed relish. And it was magnificent.

The best course though was by far the fourth course. This was one that we had a choice of and Zach and I chose the same one -- the Wild Mushroom Torte. Unlike a traditional torte, this one had a base of yuba skins, which is made by boiling soymilk and skimming the the film that develops on the top of it, then drying it into yellowish sheets known as tofu skin. This yuba skin tasted like it had been braised to make it a tough foundation, then topped with marinated seitan; Portabello, crimini, and chanterelle mushrooms; and an olive oil-Yukon gold potato custard. The gravy was made of red wine, carmelized onions, and porcini mushrooms. The combination was spectacular!  On the side, we were served maple-pecan sweet potato pie, roasted Brussels sprouts and brassicas with carmelized shallots, and cardamom scented cranberry-Satsuma mandarin relish. It was a flavor explosion.

Lastly, were the desserts. We got one of each. First, I tried the pecan-chocolate pie. This rich tasty pecan-chocolate mixture was on top of an orange shortbread and served with ginger-rum ice cream. Oh so good!

The other dessert, however, was even better. I rarely get excited about pumpkin pie, but this one was like the ultimate perfectly perfected pumpkin pie. It was perfectly spiced and served with a mulled wine reduction and Chantilly cream, which is whipped cream sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla.  Wow! Eric Tucker, the executive chef, has done it again!

This was definitely one of the best Thanksgiving meals I've ever had! leftovers and no cooking!  The food was incredible, the service was great, and the ambiance was perfect. I would highly recommend a dinner at Millennium as an alternative to a traditional Thanksgiving. Just be sure to make your reservations at least a month in advance! Bon appetit!

Millennium Restaurant
580 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 345-3900

Millennium on Urbanspoon

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