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.