I may call myself a foodie but I am never on trend. So when I found myself celebrating our anniversary at State Bird Provisions the very same week that Bon Appétit named it the best new restaurant in the entire country I was extremely proud...especially since I completely agree with their rave review! So what's all the hype around State Bird Provisions? Well, in my opinion it's the perfect trifecta of fantastic food, warm and somewhat funky atmosphere and a unique style of service. It wakes you up out of your "going out for another fancy dinner" stupor and makes you think, eating out should always be this fun! And while it certainly would classify as sophisticated, high-end cuisine, it's done in an extremely approachable and affordable (in my "Bay Area skewed definition of affordable"opinion) manner.
The atmosphere has a bit of hipster funk to it, but in a mom's kitchen kind of way. Quirky yet warm. The service is extremely friendly which is important since the waitstaff interacts much more closely with the patrons due to the table-side explanations. It may seem a bit slow to some, but I honestly think that's just because they kind of try to leave you alone when they're not explaining the food table-side so that they're not at your table the entire night! It's a small enough place though, very easy to call someone over whenever you do need some extra attention. You can also try to grab one of the bar seats overlooking the kitchen, which I honestly think would be the best seat in the house, but I always love watching the kitchen at work!
My recommendation? Get to State Bird Provisions stat...before all of those globe-trotting foodies start pounding down the door to this small Western Addition gem. It's the perfect spot before a show at the Fillmore or the Boom Boom Room or even Kabuki Theaters. But when you go, go with an open mind. Be comfortable with deciding what to eat as you go and not knowing how many dishes you'll actually end up ordering. The dishes that come by dim-sum style ranged from $5-$9 each but they're enough to share 2-4 ways depending on how many you order. Yes, you can order items from the 5-7 items on the "commandables" list...but since that only represents about 1/3 of the actual dishes you'll be presented with throughout the night don't order too many.
For the two of us we ordered 2 commandable main dishes, 1 commandable starter, 6 table-side dishes and 2 desserts. It sounds like a lot, but we were happily full by the end, not bursting at the seams...and remember, we were celebrating so we indulged a bit! For all of that variety plus two drinks each and tip we spent about $130, which for San Francisco high-end cuisine and honestly one of the most fun nights at a restaurant I can remember felt like a bargain. So you ready for the culinary photo tour? Let's get started...
Guinea Hen Dumplings in a delightful Pho-like broth. We were slurping up every last drop of broth knowing that if this was the first taste we had a good night ahead of us!
Ahi Crudo with Quinoa and Chrysanthemum Greens...the delightful surprise in this dish was a combination of perfectly cooked quinoa with toasted crunchy quinoa sprinkled on top. Fantastic juxtaposition of textures.
Heirloom Tomato & Corn Salad with Salmon.This dish had another great crispy crunch sprinkled on top and the salmon was cooked perfectly rare. Lovely sophisticated touches added to one of my favorite summer salads.
Oh, this reminded me of something you might get at Mission Chinese Food (another one of my quirky faves!). Not nearly as spicy as it looks or what you would get at MCF but the Calabrian Chili Tofu complemented with a unique take on pesto and crunchy pickles was just so unique and delicious. The texture of the tofu was divine as well...I'm not sure if it was homemade, but the firmness was just perfect. Absolutely loved this dish.
Time for a Christian quote..."This is an adult's fantasy take on garlic cheesy bread." I couldn't have said it any better myself, so I won't. Garlic Fry Bread with Burrata...the crisp on the fry bread reminded me of that amazing crispy/chewy sensation you get from perfectly pan-fried pot stickers. This was pure fantasy, as Christian said.
I thought we needed a quick food-break to see where all the magic happens. This tiny, open kitchen is where husband and wife team chef Stuart Brioza & pastry chef Nicole Krasinski (wouldn't you just love to be the kids in that household?!) crank out all of their delicious creations and load up the cart for service.
Beef Tartar with Pickled Onions and Fried Shishito Peppers. You really can't go wrong with shishito peppers in my opinion, but the play on texture and color between the tartar and the pickled onions was a great compliment.
This was our first dish from the Commandables menu...local boquerones with yeasted-sesame pancake and creme fraiche. Holy yum! We were tempted to order the other pancake off the commandables menu after trying this one. The flavor and texture combination was just perfect...we were practically licking the plate.
CA State Bird with Provisions...ah the namesake dish, also off the commandables menu. Deep fried and served with a nice big slice of Parmigiano Reggiano and placed on top of an onion jam. I loved the way it was fried, not greasy at all but for the namesake dish this one didn't wow me as much of the others. Good, just not great.
Oxtail Curry, Bok Choy and French Crepes. What a unique dish and man, did Brioza pull it off. My only complaint? Not enough crepes to sop up all of that great sauce. I would eat this all the time if I could get it for takeout...dressed up comfort food at it's best. Yum. Now, onto dessert!
Griddled Pumpkin-Seed Cake, Stewed Strawberries and Peach Leaf Cream. At first bite, I fell in love with this. By the fourth bite I felt like I was in butter overload. So the cake itself is super buttery, but pair it with the perfectly stewed strawberries (it's like eating freshly made jam!) and it is just amazing. So I would like a few more strawberries to make sure I can have some with every bite
Last, but certainly not least, Double Chocolate Pudding, Birdseed Crunch and Plums served alongside a shot of Peanut Muscovado Milk. In my opinion, it is impreative that you crumble up the birdseed crunch into the pudding...totally makes it. Christian loved the pudding on it's own as well, but he's more of a chocolate person than I am. The peanut muscovado milk is amazing...it's just a simple shot of milk infused with peanuts and muscovado sugar, but man is it good. That Nicole Krasinski knows her way around dessert!
Now that I have you hungry and drooling, what are you waiting for? Pick a date and make a reservation...and when you go make sure to come back here and let us all know what you thought!