Vegetarian tasting menus at high-end restaurants
I'm looking to see if any of you have experience with the several high-end tasting vegetarian tasting menus in town. Specifically, I'm interested in any opinions of the vegetarian food at La Folie, Fleur de lys, Masa's, Aqua, and Michael Mina. Eggs and dairy are fine. Seafood is out.
I believe Chapeau has one.
Also, Millenium on Geary and Jones (i think) is upscale vegan and has a tasting menu. I went about a year ago and thought it was good but not amazing.
Greens in Ft. Mason has prix-fixe meals on Saturdays (not sure about other days) and I've never had a bad meal there, although it gets mixed reviews here.
I have heard good things (mostly here on the board) about the vegetarian tasting menu at both La Folie and Fleur de lys.
I am planning to go for the veg tasting at one of these myself, for a special occasion, and am leaning towards Fleur de lys: http://www.fleurdelyssf.com/
With the questionable recent reports about Aqua, I am going to skip that one.
I went to Michael Mina with a small group and one diner had the veggie tasting menu. It seems to have been every bit as good and on par as the regular tasting menu and in some ways better. There was one miss out of 7 regularly scheduled items with the regular menu but everything was very good to excellent. The veggie tasting menu didn't have the miss...so it was better. Overall 4.75 stars out of 5.
I have a Chef friend/mentor who is basically a vegetarian now that he is older and needs to watch his diet. He 's classically trained in French cuisine. He is a expert on healthy dinning but really loves his food and likes to eat well (+ good wine, he's French!). I trust his judgement, he says the Veg tasting menu at Fleur de Lys is the best in SF if not anywhere in the U.S. He says you won't miss the meat if you are a omnivore and the vegetarians will be blown away.
Seems to me that any of our high end, innovative restaurants with prix fixe menus will offer a veg menu if you call them to discuss it and give them ample notice. Late summer is the perfect time for them to show off their vegetable-forward creations. It's just part of the creative process.
Okay. So if I have to narrow down the following list to three or four, which make the cut?
Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton.
Fleur de Lys.
The French Laundry.
All of these have or can do a vegetarian tasting menu. I've heard good things about Fleur de Lys and Michael Mina for their vegetarian menus, but inconsistent reports about normal meals. That makes me a little nervous about going to either. Haven't read anything about the vegetarian menu at Masa's. If I'm just going with the places that have the best reputations on Chowhound (without specific consideration of their vegetarian options), it seems like my choices would be French Laundry, Manresa, Cyrus, and Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton.
Any guidance would be appreciated.