It seems only appropriate to make the last post of 2012 about San Francisco’s restaurant of the year, State Bird Provisions. The concept about passing around modern American dishes Cantonese style in dim sum carts or trays was covered in a previous post (click to view).
We recommended back then that pacing is key when eating at State Bird Provisions, and it still holds true today at Owner-Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski’s much acclaimed restaurant. We had a difficult time saying no to many of the items passed around, but we wanted to make sure that we tried as many of the new dishes as we could.
The appealing holiday colors of this tray featured chicharrón made from tendons. Boiled to submission, dehydrated and fried, we were surprised that airy chips could be made with something other than skin:
Each of us had to get our own chicharrón bite served with an heirloom torpedo radish. We also took an order of the steak tartare served over an escarole salad with anchovy dressing. Both of these items were a great way to start off the meal with a couple of glasses of Cava:
From the “commandables” section of the menu, we ordered the pig ear shoestring “fries.” These were more plentiful portions of pigs ears than we have seen around here and were crispy delicious:
We sat at the chef’s counter and Chef Sam handed over a couple of guinea hen dumpling bites in “aromatic broth.” Lightly pan seared on one side, this was a westernized version of a potsticker:
The seafood crudo was served with fried Nori seaweed “crackers.” We made seafood tostadas using the Nori as the base:
We could not resist getting the sweetbread meatball topped with a pickled vegetable hat. Quince added some sweetness to the unctuous meatball:
A fusion of Japanese Hamachi sashimi and persimmon were rolled up into a rice wrapper. Not quite a sushi roll, but not a Vietnamese roll, it took the best of both worlds — we are stealing this idea to make at home one day:
We saw orders of this come out of the kitchen so we had to get our own grilled beef ‘salad’ served with maitake mushrooms, brussels sprouts and dressed with a light umeboshi (preserved plum) vinaigrette:
We have brought other dining partners to State Bird Provisions and in two separate instances, the pork ribs were resoundingly declared the “best pork ribs ever,” and warranted double full orders. The last two times we came, it hadn’t been as good as we had remembered, but we are happy to say that it’s back and as good as the original version. Glazed with its own braising juices, it was fall-off-the-bone excellent once again:
We tried to make it through the entire menu and were foiled once again since there were only 2 of us. Apart from the pork ribs, at least we ordered items that were new on the menu, foregoing favorites like the fried bread with burrata cheese and fried quail. As one last order, we decided to end with the 1/2 dozen quail eggs cooked in a cast iron pan. It came with sunchoke chips and was dressed with a classic French sauce ravigote (herbs, mustard, vinegar, capers):
We paired our meal with a 2008 Burgundy which had enough acidity to pair with most of the items we ate that evening:
We looked at the dessert tray and were tempted by the ice cream sandwiches, but we were too full at this point. Chef Sam decided that we hadn’t had enough yet and poured some ‘world peace’ peanut milk over muscovado syrup:
Because of all the critical acclaim and its small size, reservations are hard to come by where you have to make them 60 days ahead. We were told that because of the advanced planning required, there are often cancellations, so you may be able to walk in and luckily get a table. It’s worth the wait, and we have already made our next reservation for February.
Update Oct. 2013: State Bird Provisions has been awarded a prestigious Michelin Star in 2013.