ZUNI: first time report
made an impromptu reservation for ZUNI last Saturday night. i checked opentable the day before and was happy to find an open reservation for 6pm. it seemed a bit early for dinner, but we decided to go anyway since we hadn't yet been to this local favorite.
we got there for our early rez and hit the bar for a glass of vino first. ZUNI is a cool, industrial, warm and modern space. immediately upon walking in it hit me how much NOPA had been influenced by ZUNI (or least it seemed so).
when they were finally ready to seat us, the hostess asked if she could take our wine glasses to the table for us. very nice service, i thought. she ushered us to what seemed like the best table in the house. all the way in the corner right next to the giant windows overlooking market street. we were one of the first parties to be seated and so at first we felt like we had the place all to ourselves. in fact they didn't seat anyone down next to us for at least half of our meal, so we had some nice privacy which was relaxing.
i had planned on ordering one of the housemade burgers as our appetizier, but i was dissapointed to learn that they do not serve them at dinner. which was odd as i was pretty sure i had noticed it on the menu at the bar earlier, but the menus vary a bit i suppose. just means i'll have to get back soon for the burger.
instead we started off with some tastey fried calamari, chickpeas and parlsey salad. the calamari had a nice crispy battered exterior and paired wonderfully with the chickpeas and parsley.
we also split their caesar salad which was an excellent version with beautiful whole, little leaves of romaine accompanied by a very bright (meyer lemon perhaps) and sardiney dressing. they split the salad for us without asking which was very thoughtful.
our last appy was an order of their shoestring fries. these are the real deal. these fries are actually the size of shoestrings. not the usual McDonalds style shoestring fries a lot of places serve. amazing that they could be so skinny and still be tender inside. i asked for a side of aioli to eat them with and the most wonderful, garlicky aioli was presented. the ketchup seemed like standard Heinz fare, but i didn't realy care since the aioli was delish.
as it's well known, ZUNI is famous for their roast chicken. a whole roast chicken with bread salad for $39. i must admit i balked at paying so much for roast chicken when i first heard about it, but i'm glad i gave in. it was probably the best roast chicken i've ever had. the legendary chicken takes an hour to prepare, which they warn you. ordered this right away when we arrived. it finally arrived and it was a gorgeous platter of bronze-skinned chicken. started with the thigh which was unctuous and superb. even the breats were super juicy. and the bread salad, which i had never had before, was quite tastey. chunks of bread which had sopped up the chicken juices with cripsy crusty edges almost like grilled cheese (minus the cheese).
btw, we asked and it seems the chickens are supplied by Hoffman.
for dessert we split some meyer lemon ice cream. simple and delicious and an appropriate way to cap off such a delicious meal.
Thanks for the report; sounds like you couldn't have had a better first visit to Zuni. It's fun to watch the chickens emerging from the oven and the chef deftly carving them. I still haven't tried the fries or burger yet, so I'm hoping to try Zuni for lunch sometime. I think there are many great seats in the house such that your table/perspective feels like the best one in the house.
I'm always interested in what they're doing for seasonal desserts. Any nice desserts including fruit?
Well, the great Zuni debate continues as we've had two polar opposite reports in the same week... :-)
....the legendary chicken takes an hour to prepare....
Gotta respect the people who do it right - fresh and freshly cooked is the very best chicken.
You've convinced me to visit Zuni. My last excursion, to Luka's Taproom, was like losing one's footing on a muddy slope - didn't finish my burger. Zuni might be the cure.
The burger's available before dinner (i.e. until 6pm, 5pm Sunday) and after 10pm.
My favorite tables are the two upstairs directly above the wood oven. Great view of the action.
Ah yes, the infamous chicken. Probably the best I've ever had.
We ended up next to another foodie couple who've done enough travel to swap LA/SF favorites. So much fun! If you're ever in LA, there's a place that actually states on their menu that their chicken dish was "inspired by Zuni in SF". It's called Ammo. Nice wood oven roasted. on torn croutons, mustard greens, currants, pine nuts, and red onion.
I had a nice lunch at Zuni on Saturday...four of us, we all ordered the burger (we were on a mission) and shared one order of fries.
The burger was really tasty- the meat well seasoned and very moist. The fries were hot and crispy, as they should be! Two of us split 6 kumomotos and they were just ok in my book-one of mine had pieces of shell in it and was almost inedible. I also had a tasty bloody mary which only suffered from the flimsy straws that came with it-we literally went through 4-5 straws each trying to finish our drinks!
The burger was definitely worth the $15 price tag (including cheese but not fries) in my mind.