The kid chose the lamb ragout with white wine, fingerling potatoes, olives, tomato, garlic, and fresh bay ($16) -- ignoring my observation that it seemed like a winter dish. While the lamb was tender, the sauce light, and the small yellow potatoes fresh, it was uninspired. I would have preferred a heartier, more assertively flavored stew at a lower price.
For dessert, we had the plum and chocolate diplomate ($5.50), a layered white sponge cake with fresh plum jam, almond buttercream filling, and tempered bittersweet chocolate. Apricot-cherry tartlet with vanilla ice cream was a dream, a feather-light pastry surrounding the cooked fruit, the vanilla ice cream first rate. Zuni also offers an interesting selection of after-dinner cheeses, including Parmesan and dates ($4), pavŽ d'affinois with cherries ($4), and reblochon with fennel ($4).
People-watching is one of the great pleasures of dining at Zuni. At the table next to us, two young men toasted with cosmopolitans before digging in to their quail. A table of sophisticated Middle Eastern women to our right carefully consulted Michael about wine before ordering up a storm. On our way out, we saw Jeremiah Tower (at a prime table in the oven room, of course).
Zuni's wine list, by the way, is extensive, offering 150 wines, over half of which are Californian, with a good representation of French wines and some Italian and Spanish vintages. The restaurant serves until midnight most nights, another bonus in this city of early closers.
So the sad lesson I learned from all of this is that nobody missed me while I was away. My proud little boycott went unnoticed as Zuni continued to attract people in the know. Now that I'm firmly back in the fold, however, me and the kid are going to do our best to keep them on their toes.