Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE place for roasted chicken (in SF)

One of my friends says she judges a restaurant by its chicken. The idea being the joint isn't worth much if it can't master or doesn't care enough to pay attention to this 'basic' dish. I agree with this....though, who wants to order chicken each time he or she eats out?

Well, if I ever go back to Zuni Cafe, I am going to fast for a week so I can order TWO full roast chickens. Yep. It's that good. Roasted in a huge brick oven whose insides (and the roasting foodstuffs therin) is visible from many seats in one dining room, the chicken is just perfectly moist and fatty, with crisp skin enhanced by vinegar. It's served, cut up into sections (thigh and leg, breast and wing) on a platter on top of a savory tuscan bread salad that soaks up the birds juices and is, itself, delectable. It's a dish that you have to order an hour in advance, a dish that necessitates getting your hands dirty. It is fun and deceptively simple meal, elevated to its platonic ideal. The rest of our dishes (a ricotta gnocci, caesar salad, fennel and orange salad) were solid, but ordinary. The roast chicken is special. Don't waste your hunger on anything else. It's not to be missed.

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