Review: Zuni Café.

A San Francisco staple is still as popular as can be.

Zuni Café opened its doors back in 1979…that’s right 38 years ago and it’s actually still difficult to get a reservation. While it’s not a hip trendy restaurant, it seems to still capture the hearts of locals and tourists with its simple Mediterranean inspired food with Italian and French influences using local seasonal produce. I have to say I was easily one of the youngest people dining there and felt a little out of place. Typically I wouldn’t dine at a restaurant like this because the food is pretty straightforward and doesn’t necessarily excite me but I needed to try their infamous signature dish, the whole roasted chicken for two. For years I’ve heard about their roasted chicken and I thought it was time to finally try it! Now the dish does take about 60 minutes to prepare so as soon as I sat at the table, I placed my order. Since it is a whole chicken, we only ordered one appetizer and a side dish to accompany the chicken.

Prosciutto di Parma with Fennel, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate (8/10).

Obviously this dish doesn’t require any cooking, just good ingredients. I absolutely love prosciutto; something about the sweet saltiness of the cured ham with thinly shaved raw fennel, tangy creamy goat cheese, and a drizzle of fruity aromatic olive is just magical. Simple but so delicious.

Chicken for Two Roasted in a Wood Fired Oven with Warm Bread Salad with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Frilly Mustard Greens (9/10).

I have to say I was surprised by Zuni’s signature dish because it was finger lickin’ good. The chicken was definitely brined because it was super moist and juicy with beautifully browned crunchy skin. Underneath was a warm bread salad seasoned with garlic and scallion with pine nuts and sweet currants. The vibrant frilly mustard greens added freshness with a slight pleasant bitterness. Even with two people, this is a big portion (we took the rest home) and you could easily share this among three or four people.

Shoestring Potatoes (7.5-8/10).

We had to get french fries to go along with the chicken. These were tasty but needed to be a little hotter.

Gingerbread Cake with Poached Apple and Caramel (7.5/10).

Sticky gingerbread cake is so appropriate for the season especially with the adorable mini poached apple.

Gâteau Victoire with Whipped Cream (7.5/10).

This flourless chocolate cake was moist and light and simply accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream. Since I’m not a chocolate fanatic, I preferred the gingerbread cake.

Even though the food at Zuni Café isn’t revolutionary or anything I haven’t seen before, the cozy vibe and simple yet well executed food is worth trying. Without a doubt, the winner was the roasted chicken and everyone should try that once in their lifetime. Therefore my rating is an 8/10.

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