We went to the Zuni Cafe before the opera this evening, because we procrastinated and couldn't get reservations at any of our usual haunts.
We had a 7:30 curtain and arrived at 5:30. We were told that they were still serving from the lunch menu, and the dinner menu wouldn't be available until 6:00.
The hostess and our waiter were both very helpful and I have no complaints with them. I asked the waiter if we could order appetizers off the lunch menu and entrees off the the dinner menu. He thought that would be an excellent idea, but we couldn't begin to look at the dinner menu until 6:00. He couldn't help us with suggestions from the dinner menu, since he wasn't allowed to see it until 6:00 also. I think this is a very strange attitude of the kitchen. Most good restaurants want their waitstaff to be thoroughly familiar with the specials of the day to enable them to advise customers. I'm sure the menu must be set long before 5:30 or they must really scurry to do last minute shopping.
We did order off the lunch menu, and despite the fact that the place was not very crowded until after 6, we did not get out of there until 6:50, leading me to conclude that waiting until the 6:00 menu would have resulted in skipping dessert or missing the curtain.
I had eaten at Zuni a couple of times before and found the place pleasant enough to return. Tonight the food was definitely a mixed bag. We had an excellent antipasto of salami and greenbeans with a good quality freshly grated parnesan and a light viagraitethat all blended very well. The salami was flavorful and garlicky, the green beans were crisp and crunchy. The bread that was served was also very good, Acme Levan.
The entrees were another matter. We waited about 30 minutes for them to show up. They weren't worth the wait. We ordered the hamburger and the Pork Chop. The Hamburger is $9.50 add cheese another $1.50, add a slice of grilled onion, another 75 cents. I thought 75 cents for the onion was outrageous. The burger is served on two slices of foccacia and garnished with some very nice mustard pickles and some pickled onions, that's all. We ordered it "as rare as you can make it". It came medium rare to medium. The foccacia looked very nice, but disintegrated when you picked up the burger. It just didn't work.
The pork chop was served on grilled zuchinni and yellow squash with some grilled cherry tomatoes. The chop had been marinated in a vinagraite dressing. On my first bite I thought it was an interesting combination of flavors. By the time I got to the end I thought it was way too salty and ultimately wasn't satisfactory.
The dessert was an excellent flourless chocolate cake called Gateau Victoire. My cappucino, foam only, couldn't have been prepared better.
In summary there were some high spots, but overall it was not a satisfying experience.