Zuni Cafe's fabled whole chicken roasted in their wood-fired brick oven requires an hour long wait and comes with a hefty price tag. If you're looking to be seated and eat your meal within the hour, Zuni's other menu offerings are excellent in their own right. Grab an oyster menu and get a variety to start. The Washington Kumamoto oysters from Oakland Bay are tinier than other varieties, but buttery and rich in flavor. The Redwood Kumamotos have crisp minerality and the classic Pacific Hog Island oysters are full and deep cupped. Basically, you could pick blindly from Zuni's oyster menu and walk away satisfied.
As evident by their famous chicken, Zuni does ordinary things extraordinarily well. The arugula salad with beets and pistachios was simple and perfect. We also tried a classic mix of steak and potatoes with broccolini, which was quite good. The salmon was the only lackluster dish, not that it was bad by any means, it just wasn't a stand out.
The highlight of dinner was dessert. I love that Zuni offers cheese as a dessert option complemented with orange blossom honey, pistachios, sesame seed brittle, or burnt orange oil. Because I'm a sucker for Medjool dates, we ordered some with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Do yourself a favor and try the Gâteau Victoire with whipped cream. Inspired by a Julia Child recipe, this flourless chocolate cake has been offered at Zuni Cafe since 1982.