Posted by Lauren
It’s been one whole entire week since Kyle and I dined at State Bird Provisions!
It’s been one whole entire week + five years since Kyle and I started dating!
One seems like a loooong time and one seems like it flew by, you guess which is which. ;)
(Above photo: Bruge, Belgium! Let’s go back on vacation, pleasethanks.)
State Bird Provisions
Here’s the LO down on State Bird Provisions:
1. Bon Appetit named SBP the Best Restaurant of the Year in 2012
2. New York Times’ Mark Bittman raved about SBP
3. Eater named SBP the Best Newcomer in their 7×7 awards
4. SBP is one of 5 finalists for the James Beard award for Best New Restaurant
5. And so on……
SBP takes reservations 60 days in advance. But, all the tables are reserved for every time slot on each of those 60 days. Conundrum! I knew I wanted to score a table around our anniversary, so I hopped online at 4:46 AM on January 25th to book a table for two, 2 months in advance!
A little birdie told me that their reservation widget (powered by Urbanspoon) refreshes around 5 AM and shows all available time slots on that 61st day. Shh, our little secret.
What makes State Bird Provisions so noteworthy? First of all, their shtick is American Dim-Sum. Their menu divides into four parts: provisions (passed around the room on a cart so diners can pick and choose what looks best to them), pancakes (choice of three savory options), commendables (larger made-to-order plates), and dessert.
The restaurant itself is small and unpretentious. The largest tables only seat four people. The kitchen is wide open and the back wall looks like a 2D rock climbing wall. The focus is on sourcing the best ingredients, combining unusual elements on a dish, and defining the balance between taste and texture.
We ordered a small plate of the CA State Bird (aka quail, their namesake dish) while looking over the drink menu. Kyle chose a Common Lager and I picked a Spanish red wine – Tempranillo, Legarda, Crianza – loved it!
Within seconds, the dim sum cart passed by us and we made our first selection. If you’ve been to a traditional dim sum restaurant, you know the drill. You take something off the cart, the waiter marks you down, and rings it all up at the end. I think this concept is so fun and clever with an American twist!
We took the advice of many Yelpers: don’t rush into things by ordering everything from the cart right away!
tuna crudo & confit with chickpeas & cumin (8)
5/5 – especially loved the contrast between the creme fraiche and salty potato chips
roasted vegetable ‘romesco’ (5)
5/5 – best part was the crunchy toasted rice with the perfectly cooked/sauced vegetables
CA state bird with provisions (8)
4/5 – didn’t meet my expectations, but the quail was still extremely delicious, crunchy
dashi mushrooms & quinoa with toasted ‘gomasio’ (6)
5/5 – one of our favorites! (fyi: gomasio is made from unhulled sesame seeds)
red trout, mandarin, hazelnut-garum brown butter (11)
4/5 – lots of unusual flavors going on here, but the trout was so rich it tasted like salmon!
‘peking duck’….spiced confit leg, crepes, cloud ears & ‘plum’ sauce (20)
4/5 – another let-down. rabbit leg + crepes + plum sauce = interactive!
smoked sturgeon, horseradish schmear, ‘everything’ pancake (12)
5/5 – thought this was executed beautifully – I’m so happy we ordered a pancake, albeit last-minute; don’t be afraid of the horseradish! it’s mild and wonderfully creamy
Hot date. 5 years. Someone has a twin in the background….
Doesn’t the back wall look like a 2D rock climbing wall? (It would be really easy, too. lots of pegs.)
Anyways, after trying SEVEN amazing plates, none of the desserts stood out (BUT I am 100% positive they are all fantastic – how could they not be?!). We made plans to get ice cream somewhere else in SF, but tried just one more thing before we left:
‘world peace’ peanut muscovado milk ($2/shot)
5/5 LOVE LOVE LOVE. This shot of peanut milk had liquid muscovado (sugar) at the bottom. We sipped the first half slowly and then took the second half as a shooter. This was rich, but also refreshing… if you are a fan of peanut-anything you need to order this!
I totally recommend locals try out State Bird Provisions… it is a unique dining experience with award-winning food! Be prepared to wait a few hours for one of their designated walk-in tables OR be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn to get a reservation.
Speaking of unique dining experiences, this ice cream is straight from the pages of Scientific Monthly!
Every single ice cream scoop at Smitten is “made right before your eyes, going from raw ingredients to finished ice cream in about a minute.” They use a patented mixer (from the future!) that uses liquid nitrogen to transform fresh ingredients into super creamy ice cream. The lower freezing temperature “results in smaller ice crystals…. And smaller ice crystals mean a creamier texture for the finished ice cream. Our mixer was specially designed to make the smallest ice crystals possible, which results in a mouthwateringly smooth and delicious ice cream. [There are] no additives, emulsifiers, preservatives, or stabilizers!” (quotes from website)
Kyle chose one of the two seasonal options – Blood Orange with pistachio shortbread
And I picked classic vanilla with cinnamon cookie crumbles.
The ice cream making process was fascinating!
Question: Where is the most unusual place you’ve eaten? What makes it so unique?
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