Sunday Brunch at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco
It's good to know that Zuni Cafe on Market (between Franklin and Gough) is still around. And still serving great food. Last time I ate here, I was probably in my twenties. It was the place I chose when my mother was taking my friends and I out to celebrate (read: not inexpensive). I also used to go to the very crowded bar with friends on a Friday or Saturday night and drink whiskey sours with Johnny Walker Black. Boy, that was a long, long time ago.
As I arrived right on time, I used the $10 valet parking (I drive a lengthy wagon now) and was greeted by the fresh-faced host. I was meeting a friend from high school who was in town for the holidays, having moved to NYC some time ago. The youthful host informed me our reservation was 15 minutes later than I had thought. So I took the opportunity to hang at the (unchanged) bar and ordered a glass of red wine. I told the bartender of my lengthy absence from the place, discovered next year is Zuni's 30th birthday, and asked for her recommendation of the best vegetarian item on the menu. It occurred to me that this would not have happened the last time I was here. I would never have thought to strike up a conversation with the bartender, nor share any personal details, but my eye make-up would have been perfect.
But enough about me, what about the food?
I took the bartender's advice and ordered the "Eggs, fried in rapini, with artichoke, beans, and fried breadcrumbs (pictured above). I asked the server what "fried in rapini" meant and he responded that rapini was a green. I think the menu should have said "fried with rapini", as I was trying to imagine what "fried in rapini" meant (a fried egg wrapped in rapini?). Anyway, the dish was really sublime, fried eggs with rapini, topped with capers, and super-fried breadcrumbs. The special touch was topping the eggs with a delicious sweet vinegar. The artichoke was a great compliment, but I felt they could have done more with the beans. Still, I would order this dish again in a heart-beat.
My friend ordered the very pretty baby arugula salad, with red and golden beets, and pomegranates to start:
He followed this with a pizza of Asiago and gorgonzola cheese with chicory:
The pizza was delicious, very thin crust with a lovely melding of the cheeses. The chicory was really not much of a player on the piece I tried. Ornamental, perhaps, with the subtlest bitter crunch, but not that special.
As a space, Zuni is full of nooks and crannies. We had a pleasant, tiny table for two and the sunlight streamed in on us throughout our meal. I hope to enjoy another meal at Zuni again soon.
Happy New Year!