Posted by eemilla on October 16, 2009
Friday left me unexpectedly flying solo due to a change in the pre wedding events. Being the shirking violet that I am, I decided to stick to familiar territory. I caught MUNI 71 to the Haight in order to capture my super touristy Haight-Ashbury photo and get my mom “something hippy” (this was her verbatim request). Although I arrived three hours later than our first outing, I still could not bring myself to photograph the sign nor could I purchase something hippy for my mom since it all seemed like shit I could I easily and cheaply get in Asheville. However, I did hit the Conservatory of Flowers that we had skipped on Wednesday due to our need for food. It was pretty much the same as visiting the Biltmore Estate’s conservatory, albeit for much less money (five dollar admission). They had orchids galore as well as a number of pitcher plants, but in the final wing, I was so hot that I cut my tour short.
I walked through the Haight to the much under rated (at least in the travel books I read) Buena Vista Park. The climb is steep (very San Francisco) and shady, but the views are well worth it. I did not arrive early enough to catch the bridge before the fog rolled in, but I still snagged some awesome city views with the bridge peeking out. All of the parks make Asheville and the National Parks Service seem so draconian; none of the handful of parks we visited required dogs to be leased in all areas (and I’m not talking about a fenced-in mud pit either). I then proceeded to get lost in my attempt to enjoy an afternoon tea at Samovar Tea Lounge; I knew the Haight-Noriega bus drove right by it on Wednesday after our Golden Gate Park outing, but I could not recall the address (and I repeatedly failed to write it down or take down a phone number). So I ended up riding right past it, then waiting for the next outbound 71 (they were only fifteen minutes apart) and getting off a stop too early then walking a few blocks around and finally arriving for my afternoon tea sweaty with my windblown hair giving me a crazy lady look. The service was slow; I found my own menu on the counter while the staff discussed their weekend plans (at the end of my meal I left my table for the bar to get the check). I did enjoy the nice spring mix salad with the veggie quiche; the fruit plate was disappointing with bland figs, strawberries, and melon. The scone was delightful, even without the clotted cream and jam. I also enjoyed the black tea plain, with sugar, with milk, and with sugar and milk; I’ve been craving a scone and tea every afternoon since we returned!
After taming my hair and showering, my honey and I strolled down to his must eat restaurant, Millennium. We arrived at their door thirty minutes early, so we decided to have a cocktail at the Grand Cafe (same name as the place we held our wedding luncheon in Key West and where I enjoyed my first dark and stormy). Elderberry liqueur appeared on seemingly every cocktail menu in the city so I decided to enjoy a nice aperitif of sparkling wine and the liqueur de rigueur. I repeated this selection a few times, and I enjoyed it equally at each stop. The bar was busy, and as such our service reflected it; the menu looked pricey but interesting, and the interior was grand with its pretty wood and high ceilings. The dining room proper was elevated from the bar area so it probably afforded a much lovelier atmosphere for a date; the bar area had tables squeezed in wherever they could which was fine for our pre dinner drink.
Millennium is a high end vegan restaurant. Much to my initial dismay the entire table had to participate in the tasting menu which my husband was set on; however, it all worked out for a delicious dining experience. Our first course was a trio of ceviche, and unfortunately, I cannot recall anything other than it was delightful and left me eagerly awaiting the upcoming courses. Although I didn’t recognize it, the menu lists hearts of palm, but how can a sustainable restaurant serve hearts of palm? The second course was poori, and again my memory fails other than my disappointment at the serving size. The main course was the best; I had a tamale stuffed with scrumptious chanterelle mushrooms, edamame, and jasmine rice (the menu also mentions nectarines but I don’t see how I would have forgotten my favorite fruit). He enjoyed the fingerling potato roulade, and while pototoes that aren’t deep fried aren’t generally my cup of tea (I do make an exception for the Noodle Shop’s slivered and vinegared potatoes amuse bouche) I almost wanted to switch plates with him. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and seasoned divinely; again, I have been craving them ever since. My adulation of the main course has washed all traces of the dessert from my memory, but my honey said he was shocked at the massive chunk of cake (he also said he really enjoyed it). Millennium was to be our splurge dinner (although all of our meals were pretty pricey), and it was disappointing that their layout has their two tops crammed together with one person sitting on a banquet and the other facing in a chair. About mid-way through our entrees, the other two tables had left so we were finally able to enjoy each other’s conversation without having to drown out the neighboring conversations. Our server was busy with a larger table and a busy section to really bother with our meager little two top, but the buser attended to our drinks and prompt plate removal. While taking our drink order, she seemed annoyed to have to explain the difference between “sustainable” and “biodynamic” wines; maybe she expected me to know, but neither term has a legal definition so the onus is on those using the term to define it. However, snotty server or not, the food was great, and I would certainly return.