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zuni: the good, the bad and the...(long)

dutch | Jul 31, 200204:06 PM

...transcendent santa rosa plum sorbet ! The pure essence of this lovely summer fruit, from skin to juice, exalted in a smooth icy celebration of flavor.
A true joy.
The other desert we ordered, jasmine tea ice cream, was a nice twist --- a background of that piquant green tea-ness, with a floral overlay of jasmine and the sweetness of the cream bringing it all together.

Before this love-fest, we had dinner...starting with the soup, summer squash and escarole with fresh cannelini and basil pesto. What should have been a fresh and lively summer soup was murky and had been either overcooked to begin with or left on the fire too long. The escarole was dark and disintegrating, the beans barely evident, the squash sort of aimless. I enjoyed the pesto element, but one dining companion felt that it took over. A disappointment, as I've had lovely, ethereal soup at Zuni.

The frisee salad with fresh cranberry beans and shaved Vella dry jack was tasty, but I felt it needed one more element to really sing--(maybe grilled abalone mushrooms or roasted beets)and another green for the frisee to play with and to keep the beans from falling directly through to the plate.

For the main course, a chicken in a bouillabaise with onions , yellow finns and fennel had a wonderful saffron broth surrounding a wan-skinned bird that lacked the richness and flavor in every other Hoffman chicken I've had. The plate would have benifitted from a touch of green---some haricot verte, a sprinkling of herbs. (would that we were patient enough to have waited for the chicken and bread salad, surely a better bet)
The other entree of choice seemed to come from another world, a good world---King salmon seared , surrounded by leaves of little gem romaine, halved sungold tomatoes and fresh off-the-cob sweet corn. It was as vibrant as the chicken was pale, as fresh as the soup was past its prime. Delicious, delightful---a perfect summer plate.

Regarding service, we(4) had a rather chilly greeting at our Saturday eve 6:15ish walk-in arrival, waited outside patiently, enjoying our own company as we did throughout the evening, taking a table in the front when it opened and ordering drinks from a very nice server. A ways after 7 we trailed after the host, still inhospitable, upstairs and through the squirelly warren of rooms to the far outpost at the back stairs and cuddled in. Our waiter seemed quite new, and was friendly and fine overall, but a little overwhelmed. Throughout the meal, we suffered from "Are you done with that" syndrome, one time getting said query from both the waiter and busman within a two minute span. At the arrival of the entrees, the salad was whisked away unfinished without comment or question , irking both the food and service related response centers of the table.

In closing, our reflections on the chicken resulted in a comping of the dessert portion or this meal, which as intrepid readers of this post may recall, was intensely good.

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