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.