Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
580 Geary Street (in the Savoy Hotel)
San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 345-3900
Pluses: Good food that's good for you
Don't Miss: Hearty soups, delicious pastas
Prices: Moderate; appetizers $3.95-8.50, entrees $11.95-19.95
Overview: Open for dinner 7 nights a week from 5 p.m.-10:00 p.m.(11:00 p.m. on Friday & Saturday); Sunday brunch (3 course with live jazz)
Visa and MasterCard accepted
On-street parking or in Civic Center Garage
If your image of vegetarian food is that it's all bland and boring and made with tofu, you've never eaten at Millennium. Executive Chef Eric Tucker uses a wide variety of vegetables and grains to create dishes that look good, taste good, and are good for you.
No butter, eggs, or daily products are used in any of the dishes, and use of oil and salt is minimized. However judicious use of spices, tofu (sorry, you knew it had to be here somewhere), tempeh (a fermented soy product), and seitan (wheat gluten) make the dishes hearty and satisfying. Many of the dishes contain mushrooms -- from giant portobellos and shiitakes to dainty chanterelles and enokis -- which add both texture and flavor. Spicy salsas and sauces add flavor accents.
Typical dishes on the fall menu: a roulade of mushrooms, butternut squash, barley and seitan wrapped in filo and served with a bounty of perfectly cooked veggies; a polenta torte with pesto, mushroom duxelle, and tomato puttanesca sauce; and buckwheat soba noodles with vegetables in ginger ponzu sauce. These dishes are anything but boring.
The least successful dishes at Millennium for my taste are the ones that try to imitate meat more directly, like the "Millennium steak", with either seitan or soy cutlet in mushroom marsala sauce. A true vegetarian might like it, but if I want a steak, I'll eat a real steak.
The decor at Millennium is simple but attractive, and service was excellent. The restaurant has become a popular lunch choice for people who work in the nearby government buildings, and its location makes it an excellent choice for pre-symphony, opera or ballet dinner.
The restaurant also offers some interesting special features. On Wednesdays you can get a free neck and shoulder massage with your lunch, there's a "roaming nutritionist" who makes occasional appearances at dinner to give you free nutrition advice, and once a month they sponsor "Full Moon Aphrodisiac Night." For $175 a couple you get a special romance-inducing meal and a complimentary room upstairs in the Savoy Hotel. Sounds like a great idea to me!