Bldg A, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco Visited March 16, 2006
Greens Restaurant was established in 1979 at the San Francisco Zen center but is now located in one of the Ft. Mason buildings. They support local growers and purveyors and feature the produce of the Zen center’s (in Marin) Green Gulch farm.
Before a Fort Mason tasting we nipped into the all vegetarian Greens for a lunch. As on our previous experiences we had a mixed impression. Some good and some bad. The host/hostess with attitude is a turn off and the menu is a little hit or miss. They expect you to make reservations but we’ve gotten a table many times without one – you probably need one if there’s a big Fort Mason event. Overall, it’s an overrated restaurant but seems fine for lunch and pretty much your only sit-down choice at Fort Mason.
If you happen to get a window table the views of the Golden Gate bridge and marina are worth some food mistakes – be sure to request a window table when you make a reservation. We had the best service we’ve ever had on this visit. Other times it was hard to get service – or the check. Don’t plan on it being a quick lunch even if that’s your design. Recommended with some reservations.
2004 Vision Cellars “White” $8.50/glass
A lot of acids for a California White. Undecided about it. (- Jack)
Mesquite Grilled Asparagus with shaved Capricious goat cheese, watercress and meyer lemon vinaigrette. $9.50
The asparagus was undercooked - too crispy – read as barely cooked – I like raw asparagus but this dish would have been vastly improved if the asparagus had been grilled a minute or two more. Okay. Would not order again.
Sweet Potato & Coconut Milk Soup with Thai Basil. $5.50
Thick gooey. Not appealing. Gluey. Didn’t notice the basil. Not recommended.
Mediterranean Sampler: Filo turnover with fromage blanc, leeks and thyme; Israeli couscous salad with Michigan cherries, apricots, pistachios, citrus and ginger; Hummus, golden and Chioggia beets with mâche; olives; grilled pita bread; spicy tomato jam. $13.75
Pretty presentation. Very good - Jack would order again. Fresh ingredients. The couscous had pistachio and re-hydrated cherries and was delicious (would even convert a non-couscous liker). Filo turnover the lowest point of the dish – a bit on the greasy side with unexciting filling.
Yukon Gold Potato and Poblano Chili Griddle Cakes with masa harina, scallions, cilantro, smoked and cheddar cheese. Served with fire roasted salsa, crème fraiche, escarole, mizuna, watermelon radish, pumpkin seeds and citrus vinaigrette. $12.75
The lettuces in the salad were not torn well – pieces far too big requiring a knife to cut them. Small pumpkin seeds were a nice touch to salad. Cakes were well made and tasty with good accompaniments. Good.
Minty Herbal Tea with farm and forest grown mint $3.75
Despite the cast iron pot, the water was not hot enough and made a poor cup of tea.
Mary Elke’s Warm Apple Juice $4
I ordered it warm and it was presented with a cinnamon stick on top – it was served very hot!
Meyer Lemon Coconut Cake with Huckleberry Sauce. $7.50
A Wonderful surprise. Layers of sponge cake and meyer lemon curd and jam with whipped cream coconut icing on a bed of huckleberry sauce. The icing is coated in fresh coconut curls. Light and fresh – not too rich. I could take or leave the huckleberry sauce, but the cake was great! Recommended.
Note: We’ve also had take-out a few times from Greens-To-Go with mixed results. It’s at the front of the restaurant and offers only counter service, with pre-made sandwiches, soup and salads. They are open for dinner but often at the end of the day there are very limited choices left and what’s left is not the best – better to go earlier for better selection.
Jack's Summation: This was our best meal ever at Greens, and that is encouraging. We'll go back only when it's very convenient – we would not go out of our way to go there otherwise.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.