State bird provisions-5/12/12
We tried State bird provisions last weekend for the first time. It was a celebration dinner for a friend’s birthday. I have been curious to try this place because it seemed like a unique and smart concept for a restaurant: nnovative internationally influenced small plates brought around Dim-sum style.
The past few years we have burnt out on fancy California cuisine restaurants. The food is often good but sometimes overly heavy, overly refined, unmemorable and expensive. Most of the time we dine out we eat ethnic food. So I was curious to see how we would like this place. We didn’t like it. We LOVED it. The food was excellent. This place is a welcome shift in paradigm. The flavors jumped off the plate and almost everything was excellent.
Here is what we ate:
oysters on the halfshell- perhaps the weakest dish of the night but still good. The oysters were kind of bland compared to recent oysters we have eaten and the accompaniments did not add much.
duck liver mousse with almond biscuit -good
beet, tofu & miso ‘ranch’ –very unique flavors
tuna tartare & quinoa with bonito-rosemary –one of my favorites of the evening. The texture of the quinoa combined with the tartare was a revelation. And the seasoning was perfect.
smoked duck fingerling potato salad -excellent
‘green garlic bread’ with burrata –this was one the favorite dishes of my dining partners
hass avocado with seafood ‘salsa’-another favorite
pork fried farro, ramps & soft egg -excellent
kimchi-pork belly with tofu and clams- very good
guanciale & ramp shortstack with candy cap powder- overall my favorite dish of the evening. Just perfect
mendocino sea urchin, ginger & scallion with soy-lime excellent
CA state bird with provisions- I can't remember the last time I ate quail I enjoyed as much. The lemony onion relish underneath was the perfect counterpoint to the tasty fried quail.
double chocolate pudding, sesame crunch, long pepper-excellent
chocolate-walnut ‘ice cream” sandwich, dulce de leche-excellent
The bill was extremely reasonable given the amount of food we ate and the service was warm and unpretentious. Seems like this could be an influential place on the food scene. I hope so.
I was there last night at about 9:30. By that point, most of the roving plates had stopped but we were able to order off the menu without a hitch.
I agree that the guanciale & ramp shortstack with candy cap powder was a fantastic dish. The candy cap powder was muted by the other flavors, but I loved the initial whiff you get from the plate.
The guinea hen dumplings with aromatic broth were excellent. The broth did not go to waste, and had a nice hint of something citrusy (lime? lemongrass?).
The glazed pork ribs were the most substantial dish we ate. They were fine, but I more enjoyed the chrysanthemum and togarashi beneath them.
Asian preparations and Rochester garbage plates aside, I'm not a big fan of eggs at dinner, so I didn't care for the pork fried farro, ramps & soft egg that much. My companions seemed to like it though.
CA state bird w/ provisions and‘the green garlic bread’ with burrata were both major hits. Burrata is a difficult thing to improve upon, but the chewy bread was a great complement and probably my favorite dish.
I enjoyed all the parts of the double chocolate pudding, but I didn't like the proportions. Yeah, it looked pretty and everything, but I would have preferred thinner sesame crunches and a larger amount of that almost butterscotchlike chocolate pudding.
Even without the roving plates (which we really didn't get to take part in given the late hour), we loved this place and would love to return to finish the menu. We didn't go crazy, but I was surprised how low the bill was relative to most other small plates places in SF. Note that we booked nearly a month and half in advance, and I've heard that walk-ins have over an hour wait.
BTW, if you get there early, Fat Angel Food and Libation is closeby and has a nice selection of wine and nine very interesting beers on tap. The Sleep Over Coffee transitioned from hop to coffee flavored as I made it through my glass and went nicely with a Firebrand soft pretzel. http://www.fatangelsf.com/