It's great when a popular restaurant exceeds your expectations.
For our first trip to Zuni the Mrs. and I stuck to the standards: Ceasar salad, shoe string potatoes, roast chicken for two.
The Ceaser ($9) was crisp and refreshing. Fresh Romaine and house made croutons were excellent. The dressing stood out, with a strong flavor of the house cured anchovies. I love a good anchovy, and enjoyed the dressing. It's the 2nd best Ceaser I've had, just under Pizzaiolo's. I would like to try an order of house cured anchovies on another visit.
The shoe string potatoes ($6) are addictive. Thin, light and crispy, they were close to the perfect french fry. House made ketchup was a nice touch; not too sweet or vinegary. We were amazed by house quickly we ate through the whole plate.
Roast chicken for two ($38) lived up to its reputation. Tender, moist, delicate flesh, and crispy, fatty skin. The breast meat, so often the bane of the chicken, was juicy and flavorful throughout. Many restaurants overcook chicken to a ghastly white, but this was cooked perfectly, with a healthy, rosy hue. The warm bread salad had the wonderful flavors of the chicken juices and a nice hint of balsamic. Definitely the best roast chicken I have ever had.
Warm apple tart ($7) was better than the vanilla ice cream that accompanied it. The tart was light and not too sweet. The apple lent a nice crunch and sour flavor. Ice cream was a bit too heavy and creamy for my taste, but that didn't stop me from eating it all.
Service was excellent. Our server stopped by our table 7 or 8 times over the course of the evening. Courses were timed well; we barely felt the wait for the chicken. We placed our order for the chicken immediately and they paced the salads and potatoes so that by the time we finished our apps, there was barely a wait for the chicken.
Good selection of bottled beer on the menu for an SF restaurant. I enjoyed a Sam Smiths Nut Brown and a Chimay Red.
Portions were really large, particularly for a Cal inspired place. Our order was easily enough food for three people, and we brought most of the breast meat home to make killer sandwiches on Saturday. Bill total, including three drinks, a bottle of Panna, tax and a 25% tip, was $125, which we both thought was very reasonable. We will certainly be back.