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Mar 4, 2008 07:45 AM

Favorite menu item at Zuni Cafe?

I'm an out of towner and have a reservation at Zuni Cafe this weekend... I've heard the roast chicken for two is out of this world, but was wondering what are some other favorites?

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  1. Most of the dishes I've really loved there are daily specials that I've never seen twice, for example grilled pork kidneys skewered with rosemary branches.

    Of the regular menu items, I order the fritto misto almost every time I go there, and roast chicken maybe one visit out of four. Oysters and Caesar salad are excellent but I don't feel like that's much of a challenge for the kitchen. The gnocchi are great but there are usually other things I find more appealing. The bowl of polenta is boring. If there's a consommé or brodo, that's likely boring, too.

    1. The oysters have been consistently excellent and their Caesar salad is an exemplar of the dish. The housemade ice creams are also very good. I'm one of the legions of fans of the chicken, it's a great dish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ccbweb

        That reminds me, the granitas (espresso, blood orange, etc.) are the best around.

      2. Love the burger, polenta, and most pasta offerings, particularly the puttanesca. Oh and don't miss the bloody mary for brunch - it's spicy and fantastic.

        6 Replies
        1. re: vnchile

          I love the polenta. Creamy, with a big amount of mascarpone in the middle.
          Topped with freshly cracked black pepper. I thought it was divine.

          Love the roast chicken. And the burger with blue cheese and frites also.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            maybe some days the polenta is hit or miss. i've had it and thought it was ridiculously bland. but then again, i'm not a grits, oatmeal, or cream of wheat type of person.

            1. re: thejulia

              I mean this with a total lack of snark: if you don't like that type of dish (soft polenta), why would you think that your not liking it in a particular restaurant would mean the restaurant's dish "missed." I haven't had the polenta yet, myself, though I plan to as I am a grits, warm cereal sort so I can't offer a comment myself on that dish yet.

              1. re: thejulia

                The polenta is lovely for what it is, but I can make it just as good or better at home (Anson Mills Coarse Polenta Integrale). And really I'd rather top it with meat sauce or squab.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  That does sound tasty -- polenta with meat sauce or squab.

                  I know you don't care for Zuni's polenta, Robert, but when I had it, it was a revelation, and I'd never had a better version. And I've made pretty great polenta for 20 years, often serving it with braised lamb shanks, or roasted chicken, or marinara or all by itself. After experiencing Zuni's polenta, I went on a quest to duplicate it exactly, and have. But I love having it there.
                  I know your mileage varies.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Polenta doesn't get much better than Zuni's. It's just a boring dish compared with other things on the menu, so I wouldn't recommend it to a tourist who has only one meal.

                    Unlike some of their other dishes, such as chicken (not the same without a wood oven), it's very easy to duplicate at home by following the directions in Judy Rodgers's cookbook.

          2. Roast chicken w. bread salad, raw oysters, the burger and the caesar. Often times the simplest things are the hardest to do right but Zuni does get it right, at least everytime I've been there (about 8 times in the last 2 years).

            1. I've enjoyed the roast chicken and the caesar salad. But I loved the ricotta gnocchi served between, delicious, rich sauce but light as air, served pipingly hot. And while it was just me and my mom sharing dishes, they split the salad and gnocchi courses in the kitchen.