We finally got out to try Zuni Cafe this past weekend. We took my sister and brother in law for their recent birthdays. Zuni had been on our list for quite some time and everyone was really excited to try it.
We started at the bar which was lovely. I love the shiny copper bar and the cocktails were fun. We were seated upstairs in a cozy booth. It was much bigger and spread out than I anticipated. Overall the service was pretty good. I can't fault our server, he was very personable and prompt but the overall level of service from the restaurant wasn't as high as I expected.
It was the food that garnered the three star review though. We ordered a sampling of salads and soups for the first course. My sister had the cesar salad which was awesome! Strong but not too strong anchovy flavor in the dressing and croutons that were to die for. My husband had the minestrone soup which was also delicious, very fresh. My baby jewel lettuce salad was okay, fresh but not very well dressed and the avocado wasn't really ripe. The polenta was fine, nothing spectacular. We ordered the house cured sardines, again fine but not memorable.
For mains my sister and I split a roast chicken which was the specialty of the house as I understand. It was tasty and moist but served very plainly with some greens and a bread salad. I just thought for a $48 chicken it would have plenty of veggies, not a few leafy greens and bread. It was plenty of chicken and that was a good thing since the boys portions were pretty small. They seemed happy with the salmon and lamb (I didn't have any) but they were finished very quick and tucked into the chicken. I am not looking for huge portions but since Zuni is not fine dining I would not expect fine dining portions.
I don't know if my expectations are too high and I don't mean to bash a perfectly fine restaurant I just expected more. It's a beautiful restaurant with a great atmosphere, maybe we ordered wrong or hit an off night. We ended up spending $95/pp incl tip with 1 bottle of wine, 1 round of cocktails and no dessert. I felt either the food or the service should have been better and I probably would have left happy. I would much rather spend $25 more/pp and head to Commis.
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611