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Is Greens on the Uphill? [San Francisco]

bbulkow Apr 25, 2013 02:50 PM

Eater's "38 Essential Restaurants" of SF - which I general consider reliable - has just added Greens.


I haven't been to greens since the late 90's. I greatly enjoyed it in the mid 90's but a series of mushy lackluster tastes and high prices kept me firmly away.

Any news on the Greens front?

  1. r
    Radical347 Apr 30, 2013 11:17 AM

    Last time I was there was in 2010, and while the environment and service were very good, the food was just so lackluster. The quality of ingredients were good but the preparations are "blah". I mean you could go to any farmers market and buy a few random veggies and condiments and toss some in a bowl, maybe heat for a little bit, and you'd have something not out of place from what Greens serves. I agree that it's overpriced. $22 for Thai Curry? (And Veggie Curry, at that?) :-\

    The restaurant has branding...and I wonder if that's why it gets in all these lists. I've met Annie Somerville and she's very nice. The restaurant seems to be doing pretty well, so she knows what she's doing. The menu is safe for the masses, maybe visitors from suburbia who think they're required to go to a vegetarian restaurant just because they're in SF, but the critics (Bauer, Eater 38 now) have no excuse.

    I agree that Greens to Go, being cheaper, is a decent choice when you want that kind of stuff but still non-essential.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Radical347
      dunstable Apr 30, 2013 11:24 AM

      That is pretty much the experience I had. I might have been okay with the food if I had paid $5 for it in a cafeteria or something. As haute cuisine, it was inexcusable. (We didn't have the cheese problem described above, though.) We literally ordered the entire menu, and none of it was worth the money we paid.

    2. j
      janet T Apr 27, 2013 01:06 PM

      I made the mistake of stopping in for Sunday brunch in March. Very poor. Definitely past its prime. Don't go. Even the bathroom looked worn and the air in the restaurant actually had a very faint musty odor.

      I've only been once before -- an awesome dinner in the late 80s.

      1. t
        tjinsf Apr 26, 2013 05:16 PM

        I only started eating there seven years ago so I can't compare it what it was in the past. It's been a solid standby for me for vegetarian & vegan dining companions and I prefer it to Millennium when I need a nice upscale veggie place. I don't think it's "essential" then again I think the eater lists are shit. I've never had a bad meal there and had some really well done vegetarian food. I haven't notice any major change to the menu or quality in the last six months.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tjinsf
          BernalKC Apr 27, 2013 11:54 AM

          I agree. We've been going there infrequently for well over 20 years and I've found them to be very consistently good. Maybe not as surprising or eye-opening as they once were, but not "lackluster" in our experience. My wife recently went their for lunch and her comment was how much she always likes eating there.

        2. c
          chocolatetartguy Apr 26, 2013 04:22 PM

          Haven't been to the restaurant proper in at least five years, but I stop at Greens to Go at least a few times each year for lunch. Their to-go salads are consistently good and their chocolate desserts are excellent. I look forward to any events at Fort Mason because I also get to lunch at Greens.

          1. d
            dunstable Apr 26, 2013 07:34 AM

            This surprised me too. I also consider the list reliable, but my opinion of Greens is so low that I am not sure if I need to reconsider Greens or the Eater 38. (In fact, Bauer's perennial inclusion of Greens is one of the reasons I dismiss his annual Top 100.)

            On the other hand, the last time I went was in 2006 or so, which may as well be forever. Still, it was pretty awful, as well as very expensive. The meal became a running joke the rest of the weekend for my dining companions, who were visiting from out of town (one of them was vegetarian).

            So, anyone been?

            7 Replies
            1. re: dunstable
              bbulkow Apr 26, 2013 09:05 AM

              I am wondering if there was pressure to put a veg restaurant, or whether one person had one good meal there.

              If there was a veg restaurant appeal, wouldn't one try for millenium? How's millienium doing these days?

              Looking through the menu, I see a lot of the favorites from the 90's, like those Brochette (sic?). However, I see a lot less cheese. I remember my last meal being drowned in oil and cheese to a heart-stopping, shuddering extent.

              1. re: bbulkow
                calumin Apr 26, 2013 05:43 PM

                I had the same experience the last time I went there. A lot of cheese, and a not-very-healthy meal. But it was about 10 years ago.

                I'd like to go there again - maybe this time I'll pick some more healthy menu choices.

                1. re: calumin
                  512window Apr 27, 2013 12:14 PM

                  I've been to Millenium in the past few years. Pretty good food, don't remember any cheese and looking at their menu, don't see an abundance of cheese on it. I remember a mushroom dish that was excellent.

                  I've never been to Green's so can't compare them.

                  1. re: 512window
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2013 12:27 PM

                    Millennium is vegan. No dairy products.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      512window Apr 27, 2013 02:18 PM

                      Fascinating how people complained about the food being too cheesy then.

                      1. re: 512window
                        Ruth Lafler Apr 27, 2013 02:21 PM

                        The "too cheesy" complaints are for Green's.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          bdl Apr 30, 2013 02:46 PM

                          I remember people describing Cafe Gratitude as "too cheesy" but I think that was a different type of problem.

            2. Robert Lauriston Apr 25, 2013 04:29 PM

              Eater's blurb says "Annie Somerville's been quietly putting out excellent vegetarian fare down at Fort Mason for more than 30 years," so they aren't necessarily saying anything has changed (and that should be "almost" instead of "more than").

              7 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                wolfe Apr 25, 2013 06:44 PM

                "We opened in 1979 under the auspices of the San Francisco Zen Center."
                Let's see 2013-1979=34 34 not more than 30?

                1. re: wolfe
                  oranj Apr 25, 2013 07:35 PM

                  true, but the original chef was deborah madison. Annie Sommerville took over a few years later. mid 80s i think

                  1. re: wolfe
                    Melanie Wong Apr 25, 2013 07:38 PM

                    Sure, but Deborah Madison was the founding chef. Annie Somerville's time at Greens started seven years later.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      calumin Apr 25, 2013 07:57 PM

                      Her time as executive chef started in 1985, but she joined in 1981, 32 years ago.

                      1. re: calumin
                        Melanie Wong Apr 25, 2013 09:06 PM

                        Thanks, yes, you're right, per this interview and other pieces.


                        I was faked out by a Chron article on the 25th anniversary that said she'd been there for 18 of those years. But on the second page it says she started in 1981.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          wolfe Apr 26, 2013 07:27 AM

                          I didn't read far enough either but 32 is still more than 30 right?

                        2. re: calumin
                          Robert Lauriston Apr 26, 2013 09:06 AM

                          In the context of adding a restaurant to that top 38 list, I take "Annie Somerville's been quietly putting out excellent vegetarian fare" to mean that they think the food has been excellent the whole time she's been chef. That she was on the line or whatever when Deborah Madison was chef seems irrelevant.

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