On a recent visit to San Francisco, I enjoyed the best meal and dining experience I’ve had at a restaurant in a long time—it happened at Millennium. From the mouth-watering food to the impeccable service, the innovation and attention to detail at Millennium is unparalleled.
I’ve eaten at Millennium many times over the years, and it’s always great. But unlike most visionary restaurants I’ve enjoyed, Millennium just keeps getting better and better.
Millennium used to be a tiny restaurant located in some vaguely unfashionable hotel in the not-so-fashionable part of the San Francisco Civic Center. It’s been a few years since it moved to a nicer and trendier neighborhood in the outskirts of Union Square.
One of the many things I love about Millennium is that everything feels real, authentic and down to earth. And yet, seeing, smelling and eating the stunningly beautiful, organic and delicious plant-based food is out of this world.
Millennium strives to provide the most enticing and culturally diverse gourmet food, by taking you all the way around the world in one meal through the use of exotic spices, herbs and farm fresh produce. Millennium’s menu is based upon the seasonality of locally grown produce, but you can find a few signature dishes that are standard on the menu with just minor seasonal adjustments. Each dish is a masterpiece, not just in presentation but also in flavor, influenced by the many ethnic cuisines from around the world. The intricate composition of each dish is clearly a labor of love that took dozens of ingredients carefully selected and assembled to produce the perfect symphony of flavors, irresistible aroma and stunning presentation to engage all your senses.
Like its food, the décor at Millennium is testament to its commitment to sustainability, creating perfect balance between eco-friendliness and elegant upscale design featuring fishnet chandeliers (made from paper sacks) and curtains (woven from recycled plastic bags). Even the votive candles on the tables don’t produce smoke. They’re tiny, high-tech LED lamps that emit a nice soothing light mimicking real candles—and they’re rechargeable.
Strict vegans can visit Millennium entirely guilt-free. Not only the food is completely free of animal products, but at Millennium everything is cruelty-free by design. Even the upholstery has been done with fake leatherette instead of real animal skin. The space is splendidly pleasing and genuinely comfortable featuring earthy color tones of reddish brown hues. With high ceilings and beautiful wooden panels around the bar and kitchen area Millennium has a traditional and old-fashioned charm to it but with an exquisite and inviting modern accent providing a balanced, enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere.
We sat at the table closest to the open kitchen and just a few steps away from where Millennium’s brilliant executive chef, Eric Tucker, spun his magic. A true devotee of organic, plant-based, sustainable and seasonal cuisine, Chef Tucker deserves the highest recognition. He is dedicated to supporting organic food production, sustainable agriculture, local farmers as well as recycling and composting. His commitment to sustainability is uncompromising; the restaurant doesn’t even serve manufactured bottled water in an effort to reduce recycling waste. For one just one dollar, you can opt to drink unlimited fresh carbon & UV filtered water. It’s deliciously refreshing and clean tasting and you can choose still or sparkling water or even both—served nicely chilled.
Chef Tucker’s dedication to creating the world’s healthiest, most sustainable and delicious meals completely free of animal ingredients and without compromising flavor is admirable. His food and restaurant practices are not only the healthy for customers but also for the planet. Millennium deserves an award for being the best and most eco-friendly restaurant in the United States, possibly the world. Chef Tucker is a true organic and sustainable food hero.
My descriptions could never do justice to the incredible dishes I tried—the food is so elaborate and multidimensional that it’s impossible to capture all the details and put them into words. Nonetheless, I’ll mention a couple of the dishes.
The “Pomegranate & Fall Greens Salad” was simply delectable and exquisite. It had shaved fennel, red onion, colorful radishes and pistachios served lightly tossed with tahini dressing. Everything in it was truly seasonal and it tasted divinely.
As usual, I ordered one of my favorite dishes, the “Black Bean Torte.” It’s beautifully presented and made with whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantain, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero papazul, cashew sour cream and pomegranate salsa. It still makes my mouth water.
One of the main entrees I enjoyed was the “Seared Macadamia Nut & Forbidden Black Rice Cake.” It was to-die-for. It featured the mild but enticing taste of lemongrass served with cauliflower and coconut cream, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, Asian vegetables and red miso glazed tofu over a kaffir lime and Asian pear salad and red cayenne chile sambal. It was mind-blowing.
The desserts were phenomenal—they took my breath away. But again, I simply won’t even attempt to describe them. Take my word for it. Whether you’re the strictest vegan or the most avid carnivore, next time you’re in San Francisco, treat yourself to the Millennium experience. It will dispel any preconceived notions and myths that vegetarian food is bland or inferior to any other food. It will certainly be the most memorable, meaningful and eco-friendly dining experience you’ll ever have!