Wednesday, October 10, 2012

State Bird Provisions - Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurant

I am going to finish off my San Francisco posts with the amazing meal we had at State Bird Provisions, which was just named Bon Appetit's best new restaurant of 2012.  I must be honest: I had nothing to do with getting this reservation.  While we were in San Francisco we first stayed with some of Nick's friends, but on our last night following our trip to Napa we stayed with one of my oldest friends (going back to Kindergaten!) who is an avid In and Around Town reader.  When she knew Nick and I were coming out, she asked where we wanted to go for dinner, but having fully planned and scheduled Napa I was happy to let her make the decision.  When she mentioned State Bird Provisions, I had no idea the press it had been getting - in addition to Bon Appetit, it has also been featured in the New York Times and Esquire!   Once I got caught up, I could not believe she got a reservation, as they are now one of the toughest in town!

Open Kitchen by Front Door
State Bird Provisions is something totally unique as it is an American Style Dim Sum concept, complete with servers walking around with trays and carts filled with food.  When we arrived, we had to wait a bit for our table, which now does not surprise me.  It is hard to commit to ending your meal since new plates always seem to be rounding the bend just as you start getting full and, of course, since everything is delicious you keep making room!  While we waited, A and I got a glass of prosecco and the boys went with drafts of the Almanac Honey Saison, a California table beer.

Full disclaimer: since only a few plates are actually ordered off the menu, I was a bad blogger and did not take notes on the dim sum style plates so I apologize in advance!

Almost immediately after we sat, a tray of this amazing fried green garlic bread with melting burrata was being shown off, a perfect start to our meal!  The cheese was fresh and amazing and the bread was soft and full of flavor.  This plate just got us excited for the rest of the meal to come.

Garlic Bread and Burrata
Next up was eggplant "fries" with sungolds and pimento, which was a bit spicy but still light.

Eggplant "Fries"
In addition to the passed dishes, we wanted to sample some of the staple menu items, one of which is the State Bird with Provisions.  This is the dish that started it all: fried quail (the California state bird) topped with a bit of cheese.  The quail was amazing, like how fried chicken should taste.  The crispy, golden breading was full of flavor and the meat was tender and moist.  This is definitely a must order!

State Bird Provisions
The menu also features two variates of savory pancakes.  We went with the sweet corn and chive "shortstack" with Mt. Tam (one of Cowgirl Creamery's signature cheeses).  This was one of our surprising favorites of the evening!  The pancakes were light with a lovely golden exterior and were not overly sweet, working perfectly with the stack's savory accompaniments.

Of course, we each had to have one of the oysters on the half shell!

On the same tray was a seafood salsa, which included a fantastic medley of mussels, scallops, and squid.  The fish was fresh and delicious and the creamy sauce at the bottom of the bowl helped bring out the flavors of the fish.

Seafood Salsa
At some point during the meal we ordered a bottled of Olivares that A selected.  This bottle was surprisingly delicious and worked will with all the dishes, all at a good price point.  I will definitely keep my eye out for it in the store.

Next up was a combination of salmon, corn cut off the cob, a bit of bacon, tomato, creme fresh and an aioli.  This dish was good, but not of the highlights of the evening.

Salmon Dish
On the same tray was a bowl of tuna crudo and quinoa with bonito-rosemary aioli.  I am always excited to see quinoa used in a creative way since I have so much trouble with it!  The tuna was perfect and not overpowered by the quinoa.  The rosemary was light and highlighted the rest of the dish well.

Tuna Crudo
As readers of In and Around Town know, any dish served in a cast iron dish is a must in my book.  This pot of Kimchi Pork Belly with tofu topped with some sesame seeds was an interesting dish with loads of good ingredients.  The pork belly cooked perfectly tender.

Pork Belly!
Another favorite dish was the guinea hen dumpings with an aromatic broth.  The dumping was flavorful, light and delicious.  When they said an aromatic both, they were not kidding - the smell was strong and delightful.  It was truly as though you were tasting it before you even had a bit.

Last, but certainly not least was medley of chanterelle mushrooms, a quail egg, chives, and pancetta.  Definitely a delicious dish and worth not being full for!  So much going one, but it all came together well.

On the standard menu are a few desserts and unable to really make any sort of decision we decided to share three.  First was a creamy passion fruit pudding accompanied by some chocolate crunch.

Pudding and Chocolate Crunch
Next we had the cheesecake japonaise, which was an amazing deconstructed cheesecake.

Finally, we ordered the "ice cream" sandwiches.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
All three of these desserts were unbelievable.  When each arrived at our table, we were surprised by the look of the food on the plate.  They all were a bit different and upon first glance I was a bit nervous, however, I shouldn't of been given the rest of the meal.  Each was interesting and delicious.  My favorite had to be the double chocolate crunch, but its hard to pick just one.

It is not surprising the accolades State Bird Provisions has been receiving.  All the menu items are surprising and different.  For the most part we ordered one plate and were able to split it among the four of us.  However, with the oysters and dumplings we ordered the appropriate number as they were too difficult to share.  It was hard for us to finally make the switch to dessert because we didn't want to miss anything!

If you find yourself in San Francisco definitely try to make a stop at State Bird Provisions.  Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are a good way to go because of all the buzz.  There are some standing and seated bar areas, which are some of the best in the house because they are privy to the plates first!

Between Bondir and now State Bird Provisions, Bon Appetit's lists are worth traveling for.

State Bird Provisions on Urbanspoon


  1. Um, wow! This looks like an incredible dining experience. I am bookmarking for our next trip to SF.

  2. Oh wow, what a great way to cap off your San Francisco trip! I love dimsum but never had "American style". Everything looks so good!

  3. how exciting your friend got reservations here! everything looks so creative and dynamic, especially the desserts!

  4. Oh my goodness. I know where we're going for dinner one night next summer! Those ice cream sandwiches alone look heavenly.

  5. Wow, I love this concept. I hope it catches on in Boston!

  6. What a nice surprise! I definitely wanted to try this place after reading about it in BA. Everything looks so well thought out and executed.


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