Giveaway: Veggie Grill — Mountain View

Veggie Grill is heating up the West Coast as it expands out of So-Cal and into 24 locations in Cali, Oregon, and Washington. The newest location is right here in Mountain View, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to trying it. If you are too, add a comment below with your email address, or send me an email at brocandchoc@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a gift certificate for one free entree*! Update: The gift cards are all gone. :)

Bombay Bowl $8.45 Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Bombay Bowl $8.45
Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

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Review: The Chicago Diner — Chicago

Next up in my series of Chicago eats is the Chicago Diner. Jon found this place for me; it’s a vegetarian restaurant all decked out like a 50’s diner serving all the good old-fashioned favorites, sans the meat. They’ve got it all: burgers, fries, sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, meatloaf, and milkshakes, all with no meat products (and often completely vegan).

the radical reuben

the radical reuben

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Greens

Atmosphere: 4/5  ♦  Service: 4/5  ♦  Food Quality: 4/5  ♦  Value: 3/5
Times Visited: One  ♦ Will I Return?: Sure

Greens is a staple of bay area vegetarian cuisine located in Fort Mason in SF. It’s been there since the 70s and (per their website) has been an influence in the national prevalence of vegetarian cuisine for the last 30 years. Sweet.

The place is a converted warehouse in the Fort: high ceilings, giant steel trusses (yes, I look at the framing), and huge windows that face the marina and the GG Bridge. From the front it doesn’t look like much (in fact, we almost missed it), but inside it’s a great space.

Greens

Inside Greens

The menu changes seasonally and is always vegetarian. It’s not vegan, however; they put cheese on nearly everything, which made me happy. I think they’re vegan-flexible, however, and can change things up to suit dietary needs. They use fresh, local produce from a farm in Marin, and though their recipes are simple enough, they are made with culinary expertise that can’t help but show through. Put simply, food is good.

But you get what you pay for (some argue that at Greens you pay for more than you get) and the place ain’t cheap. We ordered an appetizer and meal each (for two of us) and a coffee after and ended up paying $93, including tax and tip. Meals are around $20, so just be prepared for an “upscale” bill when you’re through.

Star Route Wilted Spinach Salad

Artisan Cheese Plate

I thought the food was really good. The appetizers weren’t phenomenal, but were yummy, and my “risotto” (it had no cheese, mind you) was really good. And, aside from the large amount of olive oil used, seemed very healthy. Boyfriend’s veggie gratin was good (I liked it better than he did). His complaint was that it was “just a pile of vegetables” — indeed he was correct. But it was covered in cheese and came with yummy potatoes and fresh beans and, while not artery cloggin’-good, was still tasty and healthful.

Farro Risotto

Veggie Gratin

Plus, you can’t beat the view:

The Marina and GG Bridge from Greens Restaurant

Greens on Urbanspoon

Millennium

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?:  Pretty please?
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Don’t you just love San Francisco? I sure do. It’s not in every bum town you find a vegetarian restaurant that offers the finest of fine dining. The Bay Area has such a variety of people and such a diversity of interests and specialties that the very best of everything is corralled right into the seven- by seven-mile area that is San Francisco. And it’s absolutely fabulous for those of us living on the fringes.

Millennium offers the best of the best for vegetarian food and even has a writer at the San Francisco Magazine quoted describing their menu as being able to, “intrigue even the most devoted carnivores among us”. Indeed, I challenge any carnivore with an open palette to make a reservation at Millennium. It is so amazingly good.

This renowned restaurant is actually tucked away into the lobby of a Best Western of sorts, just near Union Square. It’s a bit of an odd situation, but nothing seems the worse for it. The dining area is dim and sophisticated (think dark wood and marble tiled floors) and the room appears to be continuously filled to the brim with ball gowns, Armani ties, ripped jeans, lip rings and everything in between. The atmosphere is at once chic and grunge; it’s amazing.

Millennium Restaurant interior

Looking down on one side of the dining room and the central bar from the hotel lobby balcony.

When you look at the menu you’ll see why: the fabulously creative, new-age dishes wholly exclude any animal products, perhaps drawing the square-rimmed glasses and full-arm tattoos, while the $25/plate price tag draws the open-minded sophisticates. The juxtaposition makes for a fabulously comfortable and positively humming atmosphere any night of the week.

So, the atmosphere is unique and decidedly rad. The menu? The same. I’ll be honest and say that my one problem with the menu is that it was hard for me — an ordinary food lover and unabashed* chain-restaurant goer — to discern exactly what most of the dished actually were. The ingredients are listed and, though some of those were a mystery as well, the descriptions often failed to let me know how these items were going to actually appear on my plate.

Squash raw-violi

My dinner: Squash Raw-violi - Raw squash slices with all kinds of veggies and other stuff in the middle (similar to the construction of ravioli) and on top. Fabulous.

For example, regarding the description of the Yuba Roulade, I wasn’t getting a great mental picture of what my plate was actually going to look like: “seared shiitake mushroom, wilted winter greens & Char siu style seitan filling, edamame-horseradish mashed potatoes, seared Brussels sprouts with black bean-ginger oil, star anise-shallot-red wine reduction”. What I did find after sampling four dishes (mine and my friends’) is that the descriptions absolutely don’t matter. You could close your eyes and just pick something and it would be incredible.

Appetizers

Appetizers: Beet salad and fried something or other... both great.

Dinner

Pasta with Tempeh something or other. So. Damn. Good.

To be perfectly honest, I ate there a couple months ago and didn’t write down each dish we ordered. And because they change their menu constantly (fresh, fresh, fresh!), most of these items aren’t on the website. In my personal opinion, however, this is trivial as everything was so ridiculously fabulous. Overusing adjectives is required.

Dinner

This one is the Maple Roasted Winter Squash: hazelnut-farro risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, baby artichokes & gigante beans, Formanova beet & red wine reduction, braised fennel & treviso salad.

Recommendation: Make a reservation no matter what day you intend to go. They are booked all the time; this place is no secret!

Chocolate Cake

Even vegetarians don't skimp on dessert: Chocolate Almond Midnight - Almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce, white chocolate mousse.

*Fine, maybe I’m mildly ashamed.