Zuni Cafe’s Roast Chicken and Bread Salad. It’s 7×7 Magazine‘s #1 thing to eat before you die (study it, my friends). It’s taken me four years to get to this iconic San Francisco restaurant, but I made it (finally!) last night, and I wasn’t about to order anything but the classics. The restaurant, which dons a yellow awning facing Market Street and taking over a whole corner, features a real wood-burning stove, huge windows and multiple rooms filled with casual tables. Opened in 1979, according to their history page, Zuni and its probably equally-famous cookbook spawned an obsession–and rightfully so–with its chicken. Deb of Smitten Kitchen re-created it on her site. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to doing the same.
Onward. Being the oyster-lovers that we now are, we opted for a selection of half a dozen (including some from Tomales Bay). Served on a bed of ice and with a lovely drizzling sauce, they were an refreshing start to the meal (paired for me with a beautiful Willamette Valley white wine). I’d heard about Zuni’s abundant oyster selection and was not disappointed. The ever-changing dinner menu is accompanied by a separate oyster menu.
We knew we were in for the long-haul as the roast chicken requires one hour to cook (I made sure to order it immediately upon sitting down), so aside from the oysters, we wanted another light appetizer. I admit it, I’m not a Caesar salad fan, typically, but I’d heard so much about this Caesar salad, I just felt like I couldn’t resist. We were going classic, right? Well, the Caesar was no foie gras or caviar blinis, but it was a really good salad. I could definitely taste the anchovies in the sauce and the sprinkling of Parmesan was just right–not too salty or overwhelming for the the fresh lettuce. Our Caesar finished, the oysters gone, we kept going with 2 servings of bread and an extra beer for Matt. The new plates and utensils came out–it was a sign. A sign of great things to come.
The star of the show: the best roast chicken I’ve ever had, period. And the best damn bread salad I’ve ever had. Despite having filled up on several slices of bread pre-chicken, I just couldn’t help putting more and more bread salad on my plate. The softened pieces were soaked in delicious juices and vinegar, accented by dried currants and pine nuts. I mean, it’s bread salad! I couldn’t believe just how good it could be.
And the chicken? What can I say? The most flavorful, perfectly-crisped skin. The juiciest, most tender chunks of meat that peeled off the bone. We finished that bird good and left maybe a few little currants on our plates. It was that good.
Here are just a few of recipes from around the Web of Zuni creations:
Not Quite Nigella‘s Roast Chicken and Bread Salad
The Amateur Gourmet‘s bread salad
The Paupered Chef‘s Roast Chicken
Two Yolks‘ Roast Chicken
Local Pairings: Here Here– The Boy with an Orange
Here Here is a lush, seven piece chamber-pop band hailing from San Francisco. Their first EP, The Boy With an Orange, quickly demonstrates the band’s potential as future indie-rock superstars. The Boy With an Orange’s opening track, “5678,“ is a whimsical intro featuring playing children whose voices melt into an upbeat piano melody and lead singer Christian Lyon’s gentle, but majestic vocals on the second track, “You Sold Your Shadow.” A minute into this track, Lyon is met by a rich, warming violin as the song builds into a dramatic, swirling multi-instrumental composition. “You Sold Your Shadow” is an excellent opener, and manages to quickly and concisely highlight several of Here Here’s many strengths: full-bodied compositions, lush arrangements, and a lack of pretentiousness that is common in this genre of indie-rock. Indeed, on the very first full song on their EP, it becomes immediately evident that Here Here is one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets. Read the full review over at the Musical Pairings home. –Matthew