State Bird Provisions, San Francisco. A Tasty Small Plates Concept by a Husband & Wife.
I was very thrilled that two of my favorite restaurants this year were listed in Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America. The first being, Josef Centeno’s Baco Mercat and second being Stuart Brioza’s and Nicole Krasinki’s State Bird Provisions. I was going to hold out on writing my second edition of the San Francisco Super Weekend, but once Bon Appetite made the announcement, I had to share with everyone the delicious food we ate at State Bird Provisions. Formerly chefs of the now closed Rubicon of San Francisco, the husband and wife team emerged in the Fillmore district with a small plates concept sure to please even those with the biggest appetites. Brioza began his culinary career at 15 and was named Food & Wine’s 2003 Best New Chef. Krasinski was named San Francisco’s Rising Star Chef in 2007 during her time at Rubicon. When we showed up around 10:30 pm on a Friday night straight from SFO airport, we didn’t know what to expect. Some reliable chef resources said it was “American dim sum”, some said it was “San Francisco tapas”. Regardless of the concept, the restaurant was packed for obvious reasons – amazing food.
There are two ways to order food at State Bird Provisions. You can order off the menu, which will naturally, take some time before the food comes out. Or you can order from the rolling cart, a la “dim sum” style. All that’s missing is the old Chinese ladies with the jade bracelets. Most diners will order through both methods. It’s a lot of fun to ask the server what he has to offer. Where you would usually see steaming baskets of siu mai or cheung fun “rice noodles”, you see something with sugar snap peas and burrata. Super joy.
Duck Liver Mousse with Almond Biscuit
We were in Paris in April and have not forgotten about the amazing chicken/goose/duck liver mousse we ate. This was a sweet and savory reminder of how offal meat, fat and butter can create harmony. The mousse was beautifully whipped and went so well with the light, fluffy almond biscuits.
Sourdough Pancakes with Sauerkraut, Pecorino & Ricotta
Easily our favorite of the night. We were recommended this dish not only by staff but by nearby diners. Light and slightly elastic, these were absolutely delicious.
Sourdough Pancakes with Wild King Salmon Caviar, Jalapeño and Yuba
After we had a taste of the first set of pancakes, I had to try this, since salmon roe (ikura) is one of my favorite things to order at sushi. Along with uni. Reminded me of an American take on the Japanese pancake, okonomiyaki.
Glazed Pork Ribs with Chrysanthemum & Togorashi
This was another must-have dish and with good reason. The pork was fall-off-the-bone tender but not to the point where the meat tasted gelatinous. The shichimi togorashi (Japanese seven-spice) is essential to my cooking artillery as it tastes great on anything. Even over-sauced 1989 dishes.
Guinea Hen Dumplings with Aromatic Broth
This was the dish that baited and hooked me into SBP. I love all dumplings. They normally offer a duck neck dumpling but tonight, they changed it up with guinea hen. I love when chefs take a signature dish and swap in something just as good. Animal in Los Angeles loves doing that. The “dumplings” were pan fried and drowned in a nice rich broth. Loved it.
Cumin Lamb with Scallions, Dates & Snap Peas
I’m assuming this is a take on the popular Chinese Islamic “cumin lamb” dish. But being that it is San Francisco, you’re going to get a surprise ingredient like dates and snap peas. And it will make sense. This, along with the pancakes and duck liver mousse were my favorite.
It would be unfair to say that State Bird’s recent success is solely due to the food. The staff is just as important as the food, especially in a family-run business. And that’s how they treat their employees, like family. After all, happy staff lends itself to happy food and happy service. Nicole told me that all the employees can only be inducted by unanimous approval. In order to work at SBP, you have to interview the whole staff.
We enjoyed our time at State Bird so much that we stuck around and chatted with the staff and snapped photos. Congratulations to both Stuart (promise to photograph you during next month’s visit), Nicole and SBP staff on the accolade and for further increasing my love for the San Francisco restaurant scene. Thanks for reading and happy eating.
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore Street (b/t Ofarrell St & Geary Blvd)
San Francisco, CA 94115