Monday, February 4, 2008

food: vegetables arranged to have IQ of 142

Back to Millennium Restaurant. Interesting to compare and contrast with an earlier visit. No single standout ingredient like the mushrooms to end all mushrooms.

Start simple
Roasted Beets
Then move to
Cauliflower & Cipollini Onion Pakora
spicy coconut & cilantro chutney, cardamom scented pear-curry leaf relish
yummy, creamy, delicious fusion food but you could imagine other restaurants like Tangerine getting lucky and delivering this.

Now main course, read very very carefully
Smoked Cherry Chard & French Lentil Roulade
crisp olive oil crust, black chanterelle & merlot reduction, Meyer lemon & rosemary roasted artichoke & potato gratin, fried capers, grilled endive & blood orange
Any good restaurant would be overjoyed just to come up with the artichoke and potato gratin. Greens Restaurant, fine though they are, would have put the chard and roulade (a slice of a roll) together with the fried capers and been well satisfied. But Eric Tucker's kitchen is taking your mouth places you didn't know existed. The endive is so tart and bitter it's close to a wincing bite of grapefruit. It makes you return to the other elements to experience them anew. The blood orange is another taste juxtaposed with the rest.

My date had a similar tongue overdrive.
Seared Emerald Rice Cake
sauté of jerked seitan, crisp plantains, brassicas, baby erbette chard, ginger scented coconut & winter squash puree, Seville orange & habanero coulis
The moist chewy rice sits in repose at the center of a solar system of tastes and ingredients, and all the planets align. Anyone else would have focused on the habanero, but here it's just a slight harmonic. I re-read the menu over and over to make sense of all the ingredients.

It was so stimulating that I circled back for another starter
Grilled Maitake Mushroom Flatbread
seared baby onions, fava greens, pine nuts, cashew garlic cream, bitter green salad
Unlike the main courses this dish wasn't smarter than its eater, it was almost a pizza. But the bitter, peppery green salad brought each mouthful to life, and the touch of cashew garlic cream was soft, warm, unbelievable.
You're a vegetable, you're a vegetable
Still they hate you, you're a vegetable
You're just a buffet, you're a vegetable
They eat off of you, you're a vegetable
-- Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' Michael Jackson off Thriller (25 years old)

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

food: tastiest mushrooms ever

I hadn't eaten a memorable meal in ages, since some toasted gnocchi a year ago. Another pasta, another fish, some fresh vegetables on the side, a novel sushi combination, yadda yadda. Have I become hopelessly jaded?

Or maybe most restaurants don't work hard enough. We returned to Millenium Restaurant for a sensational meal.

Orange Glazed Exotic Mushrooms
toasted crostini, herbed lemon pesto, cherry tomatoes

sounds like any other bruschetta-type appetizer, but those were by far the best mushrooms I have ever tasted.

Blackberry BBQ Tempeh
warm roasted corn, sweet pepper & brown rice salad, orange vinaigrette, ginger cucumber pickle, toasted pecans

was exquisitely tasty. I sat there for an hour grinning like an idiot making subvocal grunting noises (a habit I picked up from one of our dogs, it's his version of purring). My significant partner other domestic had a crazy dessert of avocado and red Hawaiian salt and lemon zests that tasted like nothing else. Millenium's chef Eric Tucker is operating on a higher plane than a merely fine restaurant. And it's a vegan restaurant.

I shouldn't be surprised, years ago at Millenium's old location I had a warm chocolate cake that brought tears to my eyes.

Like skiing without the effort.

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