State Bird Provisions is a new restaurant in San Francisco with a really unique concept where creative small plates are served dim sum style from a cart or on trays carried around by the waitstaff. When the server comes around with the seafood cart, it it extremely tempting to pick four or five different plates, because everything looks so good, and the taste does not disappoint. Most of the plates are enough for two people to have a few generous bites and are priced from $5-9. The passed plates change every night and even change during the course of the evening, with approximately 10-12 being served on a given night. There are French, Korean, and Eastern European influences, which might seem quite disparate but none of the dishes seem out of place and instead provide a nice variety of choices. Highlights included duck liver mousse with sweet almond cakes smoked duck breast with potatoes and pickled onions, clams with pork belly and kimchi stew, a broccoli and rye-stuffed pierogi with pickled bull’s blood micro greens and sour cream, whipped avocado with scallops and mussels, and yellowtail tartare with quinoa.
In addition there is a menu with “commandables” that can be ordered, including the fried quail with “provisions” – lemony onions and parmesan, a very fresh red trout with crispy rice battered skin, topped with mandarin oranges, macadamia nuts, and brown butter, and interesting savory pancakes, such as one served with guanciale, ramps, and candy cap powder.
The desserts were excellent. A shot of peanut-infused milk with muscovado syrup was delicious. A chocolate ice cream sandwich with hints of cardamom and cherries. Strawberry granita served on top of tapioca with macerated strawberries and almonds.
State Bird Provisions was opened by a husband and wife team earlier this year on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, CA. The quirky name references the state bird of California, the quail. The storefront is dominated by an open kitchen. There is a counter at the kitchen where one can stand and dine, picking plates as they are prepared in the kitchen, while tables are in the back. Service was efficient but sometimes a bit terse. I think they are pretty busy. Overall, however, I really liked this place. The concept is truly original making for a fun experience with really inventive and delicious food. Highly recommended.
Link to restaurant website here.
Update August 2012: Bon Appetit magazine just named State Bird best new restaurant in America in 2012! And they published several recipes, including the delicious Rice Seared Trout with Hazelnut Brown Butter and Peanut Muscavado Milk. Link to article and recipes here.