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Zuni Café – Steve Edmunds has been bugging me to go to this San Francisco institution for what seems like forever. I’ve finally succumbed, though I show up a good ten minutes late after a long, semi-desolate half-jog from an overlong stop at K&L Wine Merchants. Steve’s already here, but we wait another quarter-hour for Rob & Ilene Adler, who unfortunately draw their workdays to a close just in time for rush hour, and wait an infinite amount of time for the infinitely flaky Frank McCormick, who never actually shows.

Steve and I discuss matters viticultural over a plate of oysters, while we wait for the rest of our party. Upon arrival of the full slate (minus Frank, of course), we proceed to order our way though a really pure, vivid series of unquestionably Californian takes on market cuisine, served with confident simplicity by a somewhat wizened waitress. OK, now I feel silly for avoiding this location until now. Steve’s been chatting with the wine director before my arrival, and his adorably attractive daughter (genetic drift, no doubt) is in fact another of the waitstaff, yet in a first for us in SF we’re charged the maximum possible corkage; surprising, yet still a bargain over this level of consumption at normal restaurant markups. (4/05)

[Zuni Café]

Zuni rather than later
Zuni Café – The intention is to inhale a few dozen oysters at the Ferry Plaza’s Hog Island Oyster Co., but it’s closed. A brief consultation on where we might find an alternative source for excellent oysters (and a bonus wine list of some repute) leads to an obvious conclusion: Zuni, with its no-reservations bar area. We’re prepared to stand at the bar, but there are open seats in the corner, and so we watch the often bizarre pedestrian activity on its slightly dodgy stretch of Market Street while inhaling a rather shocking number of bivalves and a large dogpile of salty goodness in the form of fried shoestring potatoes with aïoli. Somehow, this coupled with the location and the fine, friendly but casual service feels so classically Californian. (4/06)


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