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Aug 15, 2008 05:14 PM

Nectarine dessert at Zuni is just that

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Zuni.

But, the dessert my friends were served a couple of weeks ago is pretty shocking. The dessert menu said a Blossom Bluff nectarine for $8.

A plate came out, with exactly what they ordered - just a plain nectarine rolling around on the plate.

Now, I love Zuni's ethos of simplicity in flavors and cooking, but I think this is taking it a little far!!! It seems like a joke but is not.

(see picture evidence)

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  1. Um. . . wow. I too love Zuni, but that's kinda much (figuratively and literally. . .$8???). Never seen anything quite like that.

    1. Hilarious! For $8 I hope they rinsed it. Did they give you a proper knife? Was it fabulous?

      1. Blossom Bluff is a grower located in the Parlier-Redley (sp? and I was a geography major) area (Fresno) They sell at a number of local farmer's markets (Berkeley Saturday market) - organically grown fruit. I too am surprised they didn't have some type of presentation besides "al Natural"

        1. I had something similar happen to me years ago, unfortunately I can't remember the restaurant. There was a dessert of fresh cherries and it was just a small bowl of cherries - stems and all. But at least cherries are already bite-sized!

          That is either ridiculously pretentious or lazy, I'm not sure which.

          30 Replies
            1. re: sugarbuzz

              CP would have enough sense to slice it for you and plate it with mint or something.

              1. re: ML8000

                i had a pear at CP. that was it only a pear

                1. re: norcalfoodie

                  There goes my theory. Was the pear any good?

                2. re: ML8000

                  FWIW, when I have had fresh fruit at CP, and I have more than once, the server has warned me that it is just what it says (which I think in both cases was 'a bowl of XXX fruit': nectarines once, and cherries once, IIRC. But it *was* a bowl in each instance, not a single piece, and I recall both that it was delicious and that it was reasonably priced (ie in accordance with the rest of the menu).

                  Of course, this would never would have been an issue for me at Zuni, because I can't imagine going there and not getting the espresso granita for dessert. It's the best thing on the menu IMO.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    This is a bit of a change of subject, but DH says he was listening to a talk radio show the other day on one of his long drives across nowhere...anyway, the subject of discussion was backyard fruit growers, and someone from Berkeley called in telling how how he provides berries for upscale California restaurants -- Chez Panisse was specifically mentioned by name. Anyway, the guy claimed if he had an exceptionally good berry crop in his backyard he was able to take them to CP and exchange them for future dinners out........Sounds like a good deal from both perspectives!

                    1. re: janetofreno

                      I've seen "backyard ________" on the menu there a few times.

                      Phoenix Pastificio barters for backyard Meyer lemons.

                      1. re: janetofreno

                        I think Phoenix Pastifico in Berkeley used to barter pasta for Meyer lemons.

                          1. re: wally

                            Yes, so I see. Am I just not paying attention, or was Robert Lauriston's mention of this added after I read it? Not complaining -- I sometimes edit comments without identifying the edit, if I do it soon enough after the original post that I don't think anybody will have read it.

                            1. re: jlafler

                              Probably just overlap. It often takes posts 15 minutes to show up.

                      2. re: susancinsf

                        Hehe, yes, love the espresso granita! All I could think reading this post was, why didn't they order that instead?

                      3. re: ML8000

                        I once ordered a fruit plate at CP downstairs in lieu of the regular dessert, and they did indeed slice it.

                        1. re: limster

                          Downstairs tries to maintain a little more formality than the cafe, and will slice fruit if it's subbed for the dessert.
                          They do send out a lot of fruit bowls though, both upstairs and down. They are usually gorgeous bowls of what's in season.
                          These restaurants are trying to showcase the best of what the season has to offer, the very, very best, in its purist form.
                          I am surprised it shocks so many of you.

                          1. re: rabaja

                            I don't think plunking a nectarine on a plate (couldn't they at least have put it in a bowl so it didn't roll around?) and charging $8 is "showcasing" anything.

                            What it feels like to me is that they've gotten so wrapped up in their own hype that they somehow believe that they, and they alone, can serve the perfect piece of fruit.

                            It's patronizing.

                            Why do we need Zuni to mediate our fruit experience? Don't the people at Zuni realize that times have changed? Don't they know that their customers are perfectly capable of going to the farmer's market and buying a nectarine direct from the very same farm themselves?

                            As I said above, I love Blossom Bluff, but it's not like this is some fruit that was grown in Judy Rogers's backyard exclusively for her restaurant. For that matter, anyone who knows anything about Blossom Bluff nectarines knows that the best ones are the May Diamond variety that is available for a couple of weeks in June. The August varieties are okay, but the May Diamonds are the ones worth showcasing.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Sure, I could eat fresh fruit at home. I could brew myself a cup of coffee or pour myself a shot of Calavados, too, but after a great dinner at Zuni, I'd rather pay them to give me what I'm in the mood for.

                              It's just fruit, they don't make a big deal about it.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                When they charge the same price for a piece of fruit as they would for a fancy offering from a pastry chef, then they're making a big deal about it. Just out of curiosity, would you pay eight times retail for a glass of wine slopped into a jelly jar?

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  They don't charge the same price. A nectarine is $4.50, about half the price of one of the pastry chef's creations.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    The original poster said it was $8 -- is she lying?

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I found a first-hand report of $4.50 from a few weeks ago.

                                      The original poster clarified that her friends "did not save the menu and so would not swear that the nectarine was the full $8."


                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I understand you feel strongly about this topic, but you seem almost hostile in your posts. They were selling a nectarine as a nectarine, and nobody was forced to order it, gheesh...
                                        Oysters are also served unadulterated, do you take issue with those too?
                                        I don't think either of the two restaurants mentioned that feature fruit (just that, nothing more) as dessert are trying to be precious or showcasey. They simply want to offer the customer the OPTION of a perfect piece of fruit in its season, something a lot of people rarely have the time to source out. It's really nothing more than that.

                                        1. re: rabaja

                                          LOL, at least the oysters at Zuni come opened.

                          2. re: ML8000

                            Back in 1999 I went to Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch and had the peach dessert. It was just a whole peach. Not sliced, not accompanied by anything. If memory serves, it was $9.00.

                            1. re: sbonagof

                              That sounds a little high to me. The current fruit plate is "A bowl of Lagier Ranches Bronx grapes and a Frog Hollow Farm Flavor King pluot, $8.25."

                              They do just serve the fruit plain, with a plate, knife, and fork to eat it if you want to get all Frenchy.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                My recollection is that it was a "nine dollar peach," but we're talking almost ten years ago, so maybe my memory is playing tricks on me and it was only seven dollars at the time? Either way, it's a lot for a peach.

                                It definitely sounded high to me too, but my then-employer was buying and told me I should order it. I think she just wanted to see my face when they brought out a peach on a plate with nothing else. I'm sure I looked pretty confused when it showed up. :)

                          3. re: sugarbuzz

                            My daughter-in-law once ordered dessert which consisted of a Frog Hollow peach (cut into quarters) and some other fruit. She thought it was one of the best desserts she'd ever had. This was some time ago, before Frog Hollow and great fruit were available at several places in the East Bay. I think there were some whole raspberries, too.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              I think "cut" and with "other fruit" would be quite pleasant. Rolling around the plate is a neatness challenge for a well-dressed diner. And I've done surgery.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  Only works if the drycleaning is paid for by the restaurant... Or they supply "nectarine bibs" in the style of the old lobster bibs.

                        2. You sure there was no hidden camera around?! maybe you got Punk'd??? Very odd....