[Chocolate cream cake with cocoa nibs, from Miette]
Yesterday was my dear M’s birthday; a milestone, as he’s reached 30 years on this earth. It also marked the eighth year we’ve known each other — something to celebrate in and of itself.
So, this being me, and me being a bit, how shall we say?, food obsessed, I scoured the Chronicle’s “100 Best Restaurants,” Yelp, and my own memory for the perfect birthday dinner spot. I thought about Green’s — but he’d been there already (note to Bay Areans/visitors: brunch there is fabulous). Perhaps Nopa? But I’d been there just a few weeks ago. Then from the murky depths I remembered a vegetarian restaurant I’d heard of and and off for years but never tried: Millenium, nearish to Union Square.
We started off with a glass of red in a dark little wine bar — appropriately named the “Hidden Vine” — tucked away off an alley around the corner from Millenium. It is just my kind of place, with candles, a hushed yet convivial atmoshpere, and extremely comfortable chairs in which to lounge.
Then it was on to the restaurant, which boasts locally grown, organic, and fresh ingredients whipped into thoughtful vegan dishes. Just off the lobby of the California Hotel on Geary Street, its tall windows, black-and-white checkered floor and cozy but sophisticated ambiance is very inviting.
We each had a cocktail to start — for me, a prosecco and elderflower syrup concoction adorned with edible flowers; for him, a rum limeade made with organic juice — and the appetizer special of crostini with fava beans, pea shoots, and roasted garlic. These were incredibly light and fresh, and the flavors complimented each other perfectly. Entrees included almond-encrusted portabello steaks atop Israeli couscous accompanied by sliced carrots, and a mushroom roulade served with ‘cream’ and asian broccoli. Though still delicious, the main courses were a bit heavier and more filling, and I forwent my carrots because I’d eaten a lot at lunch earlier in the day.
Too stuffed for dessert, we shared a glass of pungent Laphroaig 15-year scotch and as I tasted again its smoky sweetness, I mooned on about Scotland as is my wont. A bus ride home and a brisk walk luckily cleared our bellies enough to be able to fill them again with a gingerbread cupcake and a Scharffenberger cake from Miette — and this morning I’ve been nibbling lightly in order to let my stomach rest a bit.
As always, it is a treat to go to a vegetarian restaurant, especially one that takes such care with its food. What struck me about Millenium was that each dish was obviously well thought out and diligently prepared — proving yet again that meatless fare can still be exciting and interesting.
In sports news, the Warriors lost a nail biter of a game to Dallas last night (we’ll come back tomorrow, dammit), but today I have another article in the Chronicle as a consolation prize.