Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This Week's Restaurant Review: Greens in SF
When my lovely fiancée told me about this vegetarian place called Greens, I shuddered and here’s why. I am the anti-vegetarian. I am the anti-bean sprouts kind of guy. I believe that man was designed to be a carnivore. That’s why we have big, sharp teeth. If human beings were meant to eat lettuce and graze out in pastures all day, we’d have smaller incisors and four stomachs. I like meat, beef especially, and things like ribs and steaks and brisket. So, when I hear about a veggie joint called Greens I run to the nearest Wendy’s for a big, greasy double with cheese. That’s my way of coping with a tofu sandwich made on organic wheat bread and served by a gal with braided armpits. But, this restaurant is not like that at all. Greens in San Francisco is a great place. The fact that there’s no meat, fish or fowl on the menu isn’t even an issue. I had a girlfriend long ago who was obnoxiously vocal and militant about the fact that she was a vegetarian. I would go out of my way to make her special veggie meals. But, every single time she saw me cooking meat, she would always say stuff like, “Oh that must be the smell of burning corpse.” I shut her up once by telling her that Hitler was a vegetarian. Anyway, Greens at Fort Mason is a wonderful place. It’s right on a pier, so you can see the bay, and the décor is a mixture of art gallery and dance studio. The wait staff consists of young, hip, good-looking non-yuppie types who are attentive and pleasant. We went to brunch there last Sunday and it was a healthy as well as nourishing experience. I thought we’d have to go for a post-meal pizza because I figured I’d still be hungry afterwards, but that wasn’t the case. We started off with some unique beverages. I am so tired of places that have one or two non-alcoholic drink offerings. Sometimes I am not in the mood to have wine, a beer or a cocktail. But, usually the only alternatives are soft drinks, your basic coffee or tea. Not so at Greens. I had a chocolate chai drink that was excellent and Angelina had a really tasty cup of warm organic apple juice with a cinnamon stick in it. To kick the brunch off, we had a bowl of fresh fruit with yogurt. The grapes, plums, raspberries and boysenberries were outstanding – perfectly ripe and juicy. Then, we went for the brunch specials. We sampled several things, including the Rancho Portobello Sandwich, which is on an Acme roll with grilled onions, poblano chiles, chipotle mayo and arugula. It’s served with a potato salad made of yellow finn and French fingerling taters, with roasted peppers, cilantro, frisee and chili vinaigrette. It might as well have been a steak sandwich, because the Portobello mushrooms were succulent and meaty. Outstanding. Next we tried the Yukon Gold and Scallion Cakes, with St. George cheddar and Italian parsley. Served with eggs over easy, pesto, roasted tomato, garlic sauce and arugula, this dish was hearty and filling without being heavy and rich. Finally, we sampled the Fritata Mexicana, with crisp tortillas, poblano chiles, peppers, marjoram, sage and smoked cheese. It also comes with Green Gulch lettuces, escarole hearts, avocado, ruby grapefruit and citrus chili vinaigrette. The bill for this great meal was around fifty buck, which when you consider the crazy prices for food in SF, is quite reasonable. My only criticism of Greens is that too many of the entrees at Greens come with some type of cheese. If you leave out the meat and substitute it with cheese, how much healthier is it, really? I don’t care because I like cheese, but if you’re cheese-intolerant like many folks are, just ask them to leave it out. Greens is located at Building A, in historic Fort Mason Center in SF and their phone number is: (415) 771-6222. I’m not about to give up my carnivorous ways, but a place like this one is a healthy alternative once in awhile. I guess it doesn’t hurt to spare a cow’s life now and then. I totally recommend Greens.